Stumbling Toward Enlightenment: A Wife's Thirty-year Journey with Her Green Beret ISBN 978-1-931575-88-1 $15.00 + $3.00 S&H. 210 pages with 30+ photos. To order send check/money order (PREFERRED) to: Tom Davis, 85 John Allman Ln, Sylva, NC 28779. Also available at City Lights Book Store in Sylva, NC

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Purchase this and Tom's Memoir for $30.00 and FREE shipping!

Click Podcast to hear the reading conducted at City Lights Bookstore. From both Polly and Tom's memoirs!

This is a companion memoir, if you will, a She Said to Tom's He Said: The Most Fun I Ever Had With My Clothes On: A March from Private to Colonel

The prologue of this memoir was first published in the Great Smokies Review, an online publication of The Great Smokies Writing Program & The University of North Carolina Asheville

About the Book
About the Author



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City Lights Bookstore, Sylva, NC


About the book

Married to a Special Forces soldier during the height of the Vietnam War, Polly Davis was a soldier’s wife with a difference: she often led, always followed, and sometimes fought alongside her Green Beret. Whether leaping out of airplanes, SCUBA diving off the coast of Massachusetts, hauling her family and their dogs over two continents, or battling a life-threatening disease, Davis’ life story is superbly rich with courage, compassion, and a sly humor that overcomes all obstacles. Failure is not an option with this warm and enticing tale.

Polly Brown Davis’s warm and wonderful Stumbling Toward Enlightenment reads like a charm. It is first a love story, full of energy and accomplishment, a rare combination of experiences: parachuting, mothering, going to graduate school while her husband goes off to Vietnam, confronting realities of health. Polly Brown Davis is a survivor, a beautiful one, as this memoir attests.                Shelby Stephenson, North Carolina Poet Laureate

An independent southern girl who copes, challenges, survives, and thrives as a career soldier’s wife (and much more), Polly Davis writes with grace, wry humor, poignant honesty —I was with her all the way.                        Celia Miles, Author/Editor

The most common comment from readers after reading my memoir, The Most Fun I Ever Had With My Clothes On: A March from Private to Colonel, was "You really went through some tough times, but the real question is how the hell did Polly manage and kept going through all that time!?" Well, now you can read how Polly managed and the problems she conquered while I ran around having the most fun I ever had with my clothes on!

                                                 COL Tom Davis, Polly's husband:-)

Readers Comments:

I bought the book and am well into it. This book is a very good read from the wife's perspective. Its a series of life's stories where a person feels they are looking over her shoulder watching events and her life unfold. Very well done!      Darrell H.

I finished Polly's book last night and found it absolutely delightful. It had never occurred to me just how much the wives have to deal with while their husbands are serving our country. She did a masterful job of describing the challenges and victories from her perspective. There is no doubt she deserved that Green Beret. Neil J

I just finished reading this fascinating story. This is the story of a strong woman who took what life gave her and created a fulfilling life. In a day when people are ready to jump ship when the going gets rough, Polly Davis used the challenges of life to her advantage.     Dwight R

I finished "Stumbling" a few days ago, and I am still thinking about it. That's how much I enjoyed it and for a multitude of reasons! I am sincerely glad that I read your book after reading Tom's memoirs. I had a great frame of reference after reading his book, but where his was relatively clinical in nature, I particularly enjoyed the more introspective portions of your book. I guess that is the Venus versus Mars aspect of things, but taken together, the books recount the lives of two incredibly exceptional individuals. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met you both and come to know you as closely as I do. Both of you are inspirational, and I hope that as my years progress, I will continue to attain a greater measure of "Enlightenment" as suggested in your text.           David S


I REACHED OUT the door. Mind numb, fist in my chest, I clutched the strut, but the thundering gusts outside the plane quickly blew me into a split second of chaos, a terrible spinning and sputtering, and then I heard it: a smooth popping sound, a snap, a rough jerk, and my chute floated open above me. I was alive, and all was calm. No sound, no sense of movement, aquamarine heavens, and billowing groves of green below me, I floated, savoring the absolute ecstasy of the moment.

VIETNAM LOOMED LIKE a forest fire edging past the break. Tom went to war, and I went to graduate school. No longer the crazy coed, I saw Athens as the stay for young men who piled degrees upon degrees to stay in college. I’d catch myself avoiding windows, the look-out for those olive drab cars that pulled up in front of homes, shadowy figures forcing their feet to move to doorways bearing the awful message a loved one had been killed.. Tom and I were lucky.

R&R HAWAII: I could feel his eyes taking in those of us left huddled there as if trying to decide how to approach. Shuffling forward, he asked for a young woman by her husband’s name. The one standing next to me leaned into him and slumped. Like the one with the message was The Devil himself, the rest of us backed off. Arms around her shoulders, he led her off to a building nearby. Sure enough, her husband had been one of the unlucky ones. She’d be left to deal with it. I swallowed back tears. And wondered if she had children.

THE LOBSTER TRIPS left me with bittersweet memories. We’d travel to the coast, dine out on seafood, check in at the historic and charmingly rustic Hawthorne Inn in Gloucester for the night. Before daylight, Tom would begin preparations: wake me up, hurry me up, and we’d head out to the car. There our wetsuits waited, along with the other paraphernalia we’d need for the dive. Generally at sunrise on the Massachusetts coast, the temperature was biting cold, and the wind never let up. Pulling on my wetsuit and my booties and gloves took me just about as long as the entire dive did. That didn’t count walking out over what seemed an endless mile of rocks.

BY THEN MY eyesight had begun fading, and I could no longer read, so my doctor sent me to an ophthalmologist who diagnosed one problem as optic neuritis, whatever that was. Then a visit to a neurologist forced me to face what I had shoved into the far corners of my psyche for the past eight years. As Mama and I sat shoulder to shoulder in the waiting room, we felt the silence, only broken by one patient’s walker sliding from the wall, where it had been propped, to the floor. Looking over the patients slumped in their chairs was ominous. Surely I had nothing close to what these people were dealing with.

ABOUT 3:00 A.M. on a Tuesday in the fall of 1988, Tom got a call from one of his men: a helicopter was down in Arizona, all aboard presumed dead. The helicopter was on a training exercise when it apparently burst into flames. Those aboard included eleven of Tom’s soldiers.
     Tom and I spent four of the most difficult days of our lives driving to the families’ homes, some as far as sixty miles away. My MS was still fresh, and I’d acquired shingles to boot. The wives were bewildered and frightened; consoling them was impossible. We could at least be there. After a few days and no final word, the families became frustrated, then furious, developing a likeness to an angry mob, taking it out on those who could not answer their questions. They had nowhere to turn and limited resources. They were exhausted; we were exhausted. And we all held the Army responsible for not getting its act together. Calls were still coming in that families needed toilet paper, then diapers, then more paper plates. And there seemed no end in sight.

WHILE I WAS feeding the baby, Tee, age two, entertained himself by decorating the refrigerator with a stick of butter or cracking eggs to watch as they jelled over the floor. Then he’d spread them with his bare feet. We ended up being the only family in the neighborhood with a snap link and rope on the refrigerator door, anything to prevent catastrophes. Between the diapers and other messes, our home would neither have passed a white-glove inspection nor a perk test for smell.

“LOOKS LIKE THE decision’s been made; there’s nothing I can do about it.” Tom opened the refrigerator and pulled out Paulaner.
     “Well, somebody needs to tell Col. Martina (the post commander) what’s going on.”
     “Then go tell him.” Tom took a swallow of beer.
     I grabbed the car keys and left, not quite sure if I was doing the right thing. Surely it couldn’t hurt, but we all knew the Army didn’t like pushy wives.


About the Author

POLLY DAVIS did something she thought she never would do. Marry a soldier. A Green Beret even! Polly started out as a military wife with a BS Degree from the University of Georgia and over the next thirty years raised two children, numerous dogs and cats, and attained a Masters and a Doctorate. All while tramping the world with her soldier husband. Often alone in strange and uncertain circumstances, she not only rose to the occasion, she excelled in everything she ever did. She has taught at every level from pre-school to college, served as the head of the English Department and Director of Research and Planning for Fayetteville Technical Community College. She was the first woman to join and the first woman to be president of the Kiwanis Club of the Cape Fear, President of the Cumberland County Library and Information Center, President of the Friends of the Cumberland County Library and Information Center, and Program/Speaker chair of the Cumberland County Library and Information Center for which we drew authors from all over the area and beyond. She was also the President of the North Carolina Community College Council of Teachers of English.

You are invited to march along with her through these pages as she travels the world often standing alone with her children waving good-by to her husband as he flies off to combat zones and on numerous classified and unclassified missions. Always the trooper regardless of the challenges she faces.

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