Monday, November 14, 2011
DON'T KNOW WHY
This year, Veteran's day was harder than it has been for the last couple of years. I'm not sure why. I stayed pretty much at home. And Kathi was at work. I managed to get a little work done in the garage. But it was hard to not cry.
My nephew has been gone for a couple years now. My sister and brother in-law are still having a hard time of it. I know that it takes time, lots of time, to get over the loss of a loved one. And some never get over the loss.
And then there is their grandchild (he's a cute little bugger) and the widow of 21-years-old that he left behind. He joined the Army, and he was very proud. One of the reasons he joined was that he had lost a couple of friends in Afghanistan and he wanted to do his part. His Dad, a Vietnam- era vet, did his time in the Army. He was, and still is, proud of his lost son.
Me? I never served. I wish that I had. But back then I was a little too wild -- or as some said, " radical." When Vietnam was going on I wasn't against the war, I just did not understand it. My Dad told me that if I was "called to serve" he would have rather sent me to Canada. He had served in the Air Force during Korea.
Now, please don't jump in and say that my Dad is unpatriotic. His view was that the politicians were running the war, instead of the military, but that the military should have been running it instead of Johnson and the other politicians of that time.
I grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in grade school. We hid under our desks for air raid drills. There were the civil defense guys in your neighborhood. All these years later, do they even say the Pledge of Allegiance in the schools anymore?
But, I digress.
I watched my nephew grow from a child to a man. We shared hunting trips, fishing, and camping. I enjoyed just being his uncle, joking, poking fun, pulling pranks. I enjoyed the holidays spent with that side of the family. We had some real good times.
We laughed at Grandpa with the cactus spines in his behind. At calling my nephew "bear bait" 'cause of all the candy wrappers he had in his tent, and we had a bear come into camp. (That scared the you know what out of him!)
When he turned 17, I took him out to get his ear pierced, 'cause that is what he wanted, though his dad didn't really want him to. His dad gave in, as long as that was ALL he had pierced. So, being the dutiful uncle, I took him for the piercing.
After he had his ear done, we saw some of those fake pierce rings, like for your belly button or your nose. Well, I popped for some extra ones. I got him two for his nipples, one for his belly button, and one for his nose.
Well, when I got him home, he couldn't keep a straight face. I gave him a hard time, and told him he had to keep it real for his parents. We walked in the door, and my sister about had a fit. The first thing she saw was the nose ring. His dad heard her holler and he about fainted. Then my nephew said, "Well, you might as well see the rest of them," and he lifted his shirt. I thought that we both kept it together pretty well. I told his parents that they had a special going on and it seemed like a good deal at the time.
His dad turned a darker shade of red. My nephew and I started to laugh. He than pulled the ring off his belly, plucked the two nipple rings off, and tossed them all to his dad. I thought that I was going to be asked to leave and never come back.
That's how Grant, my nephew, was: a fun-loving kid. And I can't get over how I miss him. And his little boy, my great nephew, is a lot like his Dad. You can see it in his eyes. And I really feel for my sister and brother in-law, and for the rest of my family.
It still hurts.
My son (Grant's cousin) goes to see his cousin at the cemetary. He always makes his mom bring flowers, and he still asks about his cousin Grant.
I don't know why this Veterans Day was so rough. But I'm proud, and glad that I have had the chance to meet the young men from his outfit. I have heard some of the stories about my nephew from those guys, and of the things he said and did. How he always had time to help "his" guys. How they loved him. And to hear the stories he told them of me (his uncle), and the fun and crazy things that we had done, as well as some of the times he spent with his parents and the rest of our family.
So, yes, this Veterans Day was tough, and I'm sure that there will be more. It makes me think of all the others who have gone before and after him. Of the ones who have served, and the ones who are serving now.
Bless every one of you. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart.