I can’t believe it’s already been a couple of weeks since they were here, but we were so excited to get to spend a few hours with the Hardison ohana. We missed a few sweet people (four to be exact) that didn’t make the trip. Miss Dixie you really need to get over that fear of flying! There happened to be a band concert on the night they arrived so a few Stiffs showed up with leis and hugs for a big “E komo mai!” (That’s welcome to you mainlanders.)

Who are Mr. Herky and Miss Gayle? Well, I’ll be happy to tell you. When we moved to Virginia and away from home for the first time, they took a young couple under their wings. They are originally from Tennessee, pretty close to home and have extended family in Paducah. Herky is a graduate of the naval academy where he played football. Gayle was a teacher at the time. I think Ray and I immediately decided that when we grew up, we want to be Herky and Gayle. I don’t think we’ll ever achieve their status but we are still giving it our best shot.

Arleigh and Hanan grew up with Miss Gayle as a willing babysitter if I needed to take someone to the doctor. She mothered us and loved us when we couldn’t be close to home. Mr. Herky doted on our kids just like he was their grandfather. Gayle loves to tell stories about Hanan standing on a pew singing her little heart out at church and Hanan’s little skirt slipped right down off that tiny little waist and hit her shoes. Hanan never stopped singing. She grinned and pulled that skirt up. When Hanan hit about three she decided that she needed a baby brother and she was most definitely going to name him “Mr. Herky!” They were at Arleigh’s first piano recital and not a holiday passes that the kids don’t get a card. Oh how I miss my Hardison ohana! 

Can I just tell you that I wish every young officer’s wife had a Miss Gayle in her life? She told me if I could go to church when Ray was home, I could get there when he was deployed. She took care of us if we were sick but no way ever was she going to encourage me to not do it for myself if I could. I’ll never forget what she said to me when she heard Ray had orders for his first deployment. She pulled me aside and this was 1998 I think but her words are forever written on my heart, she said, “Brandi, let me tell you something. You are not the first wife to ever have to go through a deployment. You won’t be the last. You pull your bootstraps up and do this. Good will happen. Bad will happen. It would happen if he was here or if he was gone. If you need something, I’m here but I know you are strong and you won’t need much.” I was determined to get through that deployment with dignity and strength. Boy howdy, did she ever know what I needed to hear. Dad died the night before that deployment. I could have wrapped myself up in a little ball of mush. I remembered what Miss Gayle said, “Bad will happen and good will happen.” It would’ve happened with or without the deployment. I put my big girl panties on and managed to get through the deployment mostly with my dignity in tact. She helped me know I could. I knew she had my back if I couldn’t. I’m forever grateful to the strong women who have been role models in my life like my mother and Gayle.

I can’t forget Rob. We know all about him even if he knows not that much about us. Rob was here to celebrate his 50th birthday. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate it than touring Oahu and Maui! Hau`oli Lā Hānau Rob! I know you had a memorable birthday.


We got to bring the Hardison’s to church with us on Sunday. After a quick lunch at Hickam we dropped the kiddos off to finish up their weekend homework and chores and drove around our little island to show the Hardisons a few of our favorite spots and to catch up. We also sampled things like Dole Whip and a taro pie from McDonald’s. MMmm taro pie. One more thing I’m going to desperately miss. Anyway, they enjoyed the tour and we said our alohas. Soon we’ll be on the same coast and will hopefully being seeing them more often. Maybe even to cheer on the navy at a football game!

Miss Gayle is going to be mad her eyes are closed in that picture so I’ll end with another one. Hawaii sure looks good on her! We all love the rainbow eucalyptus from the North Shore. Aloha Hardisons. The Stiffs are like bad pennies, you aren’t rid of us yet!