Part 1, Part 2
I filled "my" first patrol with working at a neighborhood video store, and earning my associate's degree through the extention center on base. When I wasn't busy doing that, I had dinner with friends, or watched movies. One of the other wives was a night owl just like me, so we'd sit up until the early morning hours watching old movies and chatting.
At the half-way point, the Wives' Club threw a big party. We did this every patrol, and the guys had their own ways of celebrating half-way on the sub. (If you stop by here and ask nicely, I'm sure he will tell you about it.)
As I mentioned before, these subs are unique in that they run silent for most of their patrol, meaning they do not send any transmissions off. The wives or families are allowed to send a limited number of "family grams" to our sailors while they are gone (I believe it was generally 8.) Family grams are there to boost the moral of the guys, and let them hear a little from home. Fourty words (per family gram) - that's it. You learn to maximize those 40 words. (And of course the Navy screens them, because you can't send any news that could possibly upset them. You must go through the proper channels if you have news of illness or death.) They are transmitted electronically.
"Mail drops" are not the norm, and are not planned, but if the sub has the need to send someone off, or bring someone on, or happens to take a port call, they do what they can to arrange one. We were lucky - I believe we had one every patrol we were on board.
We always knew about when the boat was suppose to be back. That was one of the advantages of these subs - they kept a pretty regular schedule - not like the fast attacks, or the surface ships. We were informed of the exact day and time of the homecoming about 5 days in advance, by the command through a phone tree. The boat's schedule was always secret. (Although there was a joke that if you wanted to know when one of the subs was coming home, just go down to Wal-Mart and ask one of the checkers. We were instructed, however, to always keep this information to ourselves.)
I knew the call was coming. One sunny day standing in my little living room I got it. The boat was officially coming home! I had a new outfit to wear for the occasion, and I couldn't wait! You can't even imagine how giddy I felt thinking about him actually being home with me again! Those five days past so slowly...
To be continued