Chapter Thirty: Sam Becomes a Father

When Papa Sam graduated from Officers Training, Tammy and her family were there for the celebration along with Grandpa Gordon and Mama Clara. They cheered him on as he received his badges of rank. Afterward, they went out for the obligatory celebratory meal. All of this just went by in a blur because the only thing on Papa Sam’s mind was bedding his wife. They had a lot of making up to do. After all the celebrating was over and both families were on their way back home, Papa Sam basically dragged Tammy to a local motel. He told her that there was no way in hell he was going to wait till they got back home before they had a little fun.

Of course, Tammy had to play act a little and appear to be shocked by her husband’s behavior. However, once they were behind closed doors in their room, clothes just flew off as they made passionate love. Thank goodness there was no one in the room next to them because they wouldn’t have gotten any sleep that night. Finally, after their fifth round, they had enough and collapsed into exhausted sleep.

Much to Tammy’s credit, she had not been resting on her laurels while he had been training to become a fighter pilot. She had completed her associates degree in hotel/restaurant management. So not only did they have his graduation to celebrate, but they also had her celebration as well. Thankfully, his schedule had not interfered with her graduation ceremony, so Papa Sam was able to attend it while he was on his furlough.

There was also more good news for their family, Tammy had been promoted into management at either Binion’s Steakhouse or Casino, where she had been working since she graduated from high school. She was now a customer service manager. It was her hope to soon become an assistant manager now that she had her business degree.

Papa Sam was thinking that his Tammy had certainly come a long way since her cheerleader days. She had really worked to make their home special. He just hoped he could live up to her expectations. One thing was for certain it was nice sleeping with his wife at night. He would have liked to take her on a nice trip while he was on his leave, but money was tight right now. They owed her parents several hundred dollars, which they needed to borrow over the last couple of years while he was at flight school. So, paying them back was a priority.

Now that he would be getting officer and flight pay, finances would be a little easier to manage, and paying them off would be possible now.

Then it happened on the last day of his leave while he was making toast in the kitchen, Papa Sam heard a loud exclamation from the bathroom. He rushed to see what the matter was, and there Tammy was jumping up and down with joy. When she saw him enter the room, she handed him the pregnancy test. The pen had two dark lines on the view window.

Papa Sam asked how this was possible? Tammy exclaimed happily, “It  must have happened the last time I visited you at the base during the end of your training. This means that I am at least two months pregnant, no wonder I have no appetite, and besides that, I missed my last period.

“We need to tell our parents”, they both said in unison. “Since you can’t eat, let’s go to a regular show to celebrate our new baby”, volunteered Papa Sam. “I know the perfect entertainment for such a wonderful event, The David Copperfield Show.”

The show was excellent as expected. They had gone to the early show because Papa Sam had to be at Nellis AFB for an early flight to MacDill AFB. Papa Sam had wanted Tammy to come with him, but she declined because she was up for a big promotion at her job. Little did he know at the time that this simple decision in their lives would have such dire consequences later on down the road. Papa Sam was a little perturbed by her decision, but he sort of understood.  He, however, would not let anything negatively affect his happiness about their new baby. Besides, he didn’t know for sure how long he would be stationed in Tampa, anyway.

When Papa Sam stepped out of the transport plane onto the tarmac, he was hit by heat like he had not experienced before even Texas paled in comparison. The air was so heavy with humidity. Back in Las Vegas,  you had  higher temperatures but the humidity was only in the teens. In Tampa, you had humidity in the 90s with temperatures also in the 90s. By the time he walked to the administration building, he was dripping with sweat.  Maybe his Tammy made a wise decision, after all, especially with her being pregnant. Well, at least they had nice beaches in Tampa.

He was attached to the 56th Tactical Fighter Wing which flew F-4s and F-16s. They mainly flew sorties over the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to the close proximity of such a large body of water, they were able to practice flying and maneuvers at supersonic speeds, a luxury that most landlocked AFBs did not have. Since MacDill was known for refueling, they also practiced mid-air refueling.

With time, Papa Sam became quite proficient flying both of these fighters.

Due to budget cuts, daily flights were a thing of the past. This allowed for more thorough planning on training missions and debriefing. On the day of the flight, the team shows up for a weather brief, and then the pilots prepare their gear and do a final flight brief.

On non-flying days, there is academics such as studying current world threats and foreign systems. There is also a lot of administrative type work, including non-flight type meetings. There is also time spent working with the flight equipment. Flight days can last 10 to 12 hours. Non-flight days typically run from 8 to 10 hours.

With Papa Sam’s schedule being so busy before he knew it, the due date was upon him. When Papa Sam first arrived at the base, he informed his CO that his wife’s due date was in the first week of November. The CO said no problem.  True to his word his CO signed his leave forms. The CO allowed him a full 14 days of leave to be with his wife.

Tammy’s official due date was on November 7th. Well, that day went by, and so did the following several days as well. When Papa Sam began to worry that his leave would be over before the baby was born, finally the OBGYN came to talk to the expecting mother and her impatient spouse and said that they were going to induce the birth the following morning at 0800. True to form, baby Peter remained stubborn throughout the night. 0700 rolled around and the pre-op nurse and tech came to Tammy’s room to take her to the labor and delivery room to prepare her for delivery.

While there are several ways to induce labor, Dr. Jean Mansfield Tammy’s OBGYN preferred using prostaglandins to ripen the cervix. He inserted the prostaglandins directly into the cervix by instrumentation. All during the procedure, the mother’s contractions and the baby’s heart rate are monitored.

Now that the procedure was done, there was nothing left to do but wait. Lucky for Tammy, the wait was fairly short, less than an hour. The contractions became stronger, and when the nurse measured the cervix, it was fully dilated at 10cm.

The actual delivery went fairly quickly, considering that it was her first delivery. She was now the proud parent of a 7.5-pound baby boy. Papa Sam and Tammy had opted not to know the sex of the baby in advance, so they chose names for a girl and a boy. Peter was the name chosen for the male baby, and Justine, Tammy’s grandmother’s name, was chosen for the female baby. The baby’s full name was Peter Gordon Anderson. Peter was blonde with blue eyes. Papa Sam was present for the whole delivery. He had to admit it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. He knew he would always cherish those memories as long as he lived.

Tammy was discharged the following day with baby Peter. Papa Sam still had three more days of leave, so he set her up as best as he could. He made sure their apartment was all clean. He went shopping to get all of the baby supplies that she would need. Tammy’s parents and Papa Sam’s parents made sure that they had a crib, stroller, and all the other bigger ticket item things that were needed. So by the time he had to go back to Tampa, Tammy was in pretty good shape.

Before he left, he asked her one more time if she wanted to move to Tampa. Her answer was, “What do I do when you get deployed somewhere else? I have a good job here, my parents live here and your parents live here. I have no one in Tampa.”

When Papa Sam considered it from her point of view, he had to admit that she was right. Mama Clara loved babysitting his sister Christine’s children, so it goes without saying she will feel the same about his baby boy Peter. Even though he knew that Tammy was right, it still didn’t make being away from them any easier. He was still going to miss her and the baby.

He knew that he would be counting the months until his leave was due again. He was concerned that he may have to go to the Middle East. The scuttlebutt was that shit was going to hit the fan in Iraq because Sadam Hussain, its leader, was both power hungry and bat shit crazy.

During his days off, Papa Sam would go over to Clearwater Beach with some of his buddies to enjoy the sun and the water. He is not sure why he did it because seeing all of those beautiful young women sun bathing in their thongs made him miss his wife even more. He couldn’t wait till his next leave. As it was, his commanding officer told him that after his leave was up, he was being reassigned to the 52nd Fighter Wing in Luke AFB in Arizona. Well, at least this base was within driving distance of Las Vegas. So now, hopefully, he would get to see his wife and son more often.

Tammy, while happy to see him, seemed just a little distant. Maybe it was just his imagination, or maybe she was just tired. So while he was home on leave, he let her sleep in, and he got up each night to feed Little Petey and change his diaper.

He also noted that while the lovemaking was nice, it had lost some of its zip. Again, he attributed this to Tammy’s fatigue. He hoped that was it, anyway. Tammy was definitely busy with her job. She was finally promoted to the front desk manager at the Binion Resort. Her duties included handling reservations, handling guest complaints, and ensuring that the proper department handled guest requests. So she was definitely busy at her job, and she had Peter to take care of when she was home. At least his and her parents were helping out when she was at work.

Papa Sam did feel bad, but he did not know what else to do. If he had been successful as a professional athlete, he would have still been away from home a lot. However, he would have made enough money that Tammy could have been a stay-at-home mom. Though she had made it perfectly clear that she also wanted a career of her own. So under the circumstances they were doing the best they could. He, however, was starting to wonder if their relationship was going to last. He hoped it would because he really loved her.

Even though the time he spent with Tammy wasn’t exactly spectacular, the time he got to spend with his little Petey was. Each time he had to leave his family the harder he found it. He really did miss his family time when he was away. His problem was that he needed something to keep him busy when he wasn’t working. Going to the beach on his weekends or bars at night was certainly not conducive to maintaining a happy relationship. If he was going to remain faithful, he needed to stay away from both of those places. His father took up photography, but that cost some money to get a good camera, besides he really wasn’t that interested in it. All he really knew were sports and now flying. Hopefully, he would think of something to occupy his free time.

The first bar Papa Sam had gone to with his buddies had pool tables along with jukeboxes and dart boards and other games of skill. He had only gone to the bars for companionship since he did not drink. So when he got tired of hanging around the bar, nursing a bottle of Coke he tried playing a little pool, if you could call what he was doing playing pool. He ended up just banging balls around since he had no idea what he was doing. On his second time out, he went by himself to the Golden 8-Ball Billiards and just started hitting balls. He had to admit that it was a dive, but it had a lot of really nice pool tables. Eventually an older gentleman came up to him and put a hand on his shoulder and said, “Enough, let me show you how to play the game. I just can’t watch you slaughter those poor balls anymore.”

Papa Sam said, “Thank you, what do I call you?”

The old Billiard Player said, “You can just call me Fats.”

The things he could do with a ball was magical. In just a short hour, he had shown Papa Sam how to plan his shots. He explained what English meant and gave him pointers on how to lead the ball. By the time he was done giving tips to him, his game had improved immeasurably.

So began Papa Sam’s obsession with billiards. He played every evening after eating at the mess hall on base. The base had a few serviceable pool tables at their recreational center, but they could not compare to the ones at the Golden Eight Ball. Now that his game had improved, those old tables at the base just did not have the right kind of action, the bumpers were dead and the pockets were sloppy at best. Besides, at the pool hall he could find better players to play against once in a while.

Finally he had something to occupy his free time. While it is true you could gamble and participate in unethical activities with billiards, he just enjoyed playing the game because of the skill involved in it. Being a fighter pilot he had great hand eye coordination, and this greatly facilitated the speed with which he gained in skill at playing the game. While 9-ball and 8-ball were fun on occasion, he preferred just straight pool. He found after a while that he was beating most of the players at the pool hall, however, he never did see that old fat man again.

Papa Sam continued calling Tammy once a week to catch up on what was going on with her and Peter, though each time they talked the shorter the conversations became. Even their visits were somewhat reserved. While it is true that they still made love when they were together, the passion and spark seemed to be gone. He had a feeling that this long distance relationship was not working, and whoever came up with the saying that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” was full of shit. (“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” as “Always toward absent lovers love’s tide stronger flows” from Sextus Aurelius Propertius – a Roman poet from 15BC.) They were still newly weds and they had a new baby, they should not be growing further apart. He started wondering if there was someone vying fo her attention at work.

In 1990, despite after putting in several requests, Papa Sam is still not stationed at Nellis AFB, he is instead now reassigned back to Elgin AFB in Florida, where he is attached to the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing. Tammy is quite upset by this news from Papa Sam. He had been getting her all excited about his imminent transfer to Nellis AFB, when it did not happen it was the beginning of the end for them. His subsequent transfer and fighting overseas in the Gulf War in 1990 was the final straw. She knew that he was doing the best he could, but it simply was not enough. Despite all of her efforts to the contrary she was not cutout to being a military wife. Tammy wanted her husband sleeping by her side each night. She wanted him to share in the raising of their family, not just showing up once a year to clean the pipes and then go away again.

Tammy didn’t have the courage to tell her Papa Sam that after she had finished breastfeeding Little Petey that she had started taking the pill again. Frankly, she was terrified of getting pregnant all over. It would have been different if Papa Sam had a career that allowed him to live at home with his family. Under those circumstances, she would have gladly given him a handful of kids. However, she was not strong enough to raise those kids on her own. She still loved him, and she thought his being a fighter pilot was damn sexy, especially when they role played as part of their foreplay. However, once a year visitations weren’t enough anymore. It is quite possible that she never really thought what the ramifications were in being married to an air force fighter pilot. Now that she was, the reality wasn’t all that glamorous. She was frankly tired of hugging a pillow at night instead of her husband. Besides she enjoyed being a woman and all that it entailed.