January 1969 was our last month of separation before Steve finally returned home in early February. It was a month of studying for finals in order to finish college at the conclusion of the fall semester.
Unfortunately, I got very sick and our friends (Mickey and Larry) drove me to their home in Porterville so I wouldn’t be alone while I was recuperating from the Hong Kong flu. I spent many hours sleeping on their couch. In fact, I missed most of Super Bowl III on January 12; however, I had already seen lots of the hype leading up to the game. Quarterback Joe Namath of the New York Jets had previously “guaranteed” that his underdog team would beat the Baltimore Colts, and surprisingly he was right! Then we also watched President Johnson give his last “State of the Union Address” on January 14.
After recovering, I returned to Fresno later that week. I appreciated having such good friends who took care of me during this illness as well as at other times. Late one night in 1968 they had also taken me to the Emergency Room at the local hospital for a tetanus shot. This was as a result of the rusty curb feeler on our VW getting stuck in my ankle when I walked past it in their very narrow garage.
At the end of the month I completed final exams in all my upper division classes, and I had earned a BA degree in Social Science. The timing was perfect, and I was pleased that our original plan had worked out so well.
Then I moved temporarily to my family’s house in Laguna Beach to wait for Steve to come home. As he was scheduled to land at nearby MCAS El Toro, we would finally be together again soon.
Looking back on the previous 13 months apart, I marvel at how we both managed to get through it all. And even though we corresponded almost daily, we still needed to get to know each other once again. Now it really was like starting over.