Today I’m remembering Winston Coye, my first husband, and the father of my kids, Patrick and Andrea. Winston passed 25 years ago today. Before I go into my memories, let me get the hard facts out first. Winston had a heart attack as we were getting ready for work and the kids were getting ready for grade school. They were 10 and 8. He was only 45. As you might imagine, we were devasted!
(This was posted on July 7, 2023.)
Remembering the good stuff
I met Winston at a Navy school in Memphis, Tennessee. I thought he was a smarta** and wasn’t impressed at all. But then we were stationed together in Yokosuka, Japan. That’s when I grew to enjoy his humor. That special Navy humor that is sometimes bawdy, sometimes wacky, and makes you snicker.
Winston was “hapa haole” (part White), as they say in Hawai’i. His White American father met his Japanese mother when he traveled to Japan to start a business right after World War II. I imagine it wasn’t easy growing up half American in Japan at that time. His mom got him to a Jesuit School where he learned to speak American English.
Later, he lived in Southern California for high school so that he could keep his American citizenship. He shared a few memories of “crazy Americans” with me while he lived in Newport Beach – a woman walking down the street with nothing but a sheet on (this was the early 1970’s, okay?). Was there a goat involved? Yes, the woman was walking a goat. Lucky for me, Winston enlisted in the U.S. Navy after he got out of high school.
Remembering when he met my family
Bringing him home for our wedding in Buffalo, NY, was a lesson in stereotypes. Our neighbors talked to him very slowly. And LOUDLY of course. Because that helps people who don’t speak English understand what you’re saying. He didn’t get mad.
Winston played along, speaking with a stereotypical Japanese accent with a little bit of an overbite (check out the WWII cartoons of Japanese men). Rather than get mad, he made fun of their assumptions. I think they were a bit embarrassed as they realized he was fluent in English.
Another fond memory – Winston and my brother-in-law, Ray (Navy guy from Maui) used to play jokes on my mother all the time. But she still trusted them.
One time, Winston told her that the big cranes at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Alameda wharves in California were part of the Star Wars movie set. She believed him – – until we told her the truth. We all had a good laugh.
Winston and Ray got her to try eating spicy food by saying it wasn’t tooo hot. She fell for it again!! She survived, but finally learned to check with her daughters before she believed those guys.
Dedicated family man
And because of Winston, we became a happy dog family. He found two street dogs, Missy and Timmie wandering around Aiea, Hawai’i and brought them home. Missy would lie in his lap like she was his girlfriend. I called her his “little hussy” because she was definitely in love with him.
He was a great dad to our kids and loved them ferociously. He named our daughter “Andrea” just in case she wanted to be a Navy pilot – he was sure “Andy” would fit perfectly in that world. And I found out from Pat later that Winston bribed him to play soccer. Whatever, dude.
After Winston passed, I told him he wasn’t done parenting. He better watch over our kids and keep them safe and out of trouble. And he did. Even after he passed, he continued to be a good parent.
Thanks for listening!
(This was our wedding picture from 1981.)