Well, I’m home. Exhausted, mentally and emotionally drained.
The reunion was a blast… to start with. The association reunion started off with a pub crawl in old Virginia Beach right under the bow of the USS Wisconsin BB-64 (which we toured on Thursday as part of an excursion) on Wednesday night.
And Thursday night I had the best surprise. I had just sat down at the dinner table in the ballroom when I saw Judy standing there with a grin on her face. She nodded over to the other side of the table and there was my daughter, Marni and son-in-law, Carl, walking up.
I have wanted her to attend one of the reunions for years, and meet some of the guys and see what it was like and listen to the stories. But it just couldn’t be worked out. Back in March Judy and my old Navy buddy, Earl, got together and made it possible for them to attend… and they kept it a secret all these months… even the grandkids. It was a surprise birthday present for me, and to say I was happy and surprised would be a sad understatement.
We had for dinner, SOS, which for you landlubbers is Shit On A Shingle. Actually it is supposed to be Cream Chip Beef on Toast, a regular Navy breakfast delicacy. But the chef must have been Army, because it was more like sausage grave on bread. It was bad… but I ate all of mine. No one else at the table was able to get it down. Pussies!
But we laughed and joked about it the whole meal. It was a fun time.
After the dinner and the entertainment (a barbershop quartet singing old songs) and I woke up, we migrated to the bar for a drink or two or twenty and that is when the bottom fell out for me and the family.
My cell started ringing and I couldn’t figure who would be calling me at that hour. It was the Cobb County Police informing me that my younger brother Stephen had died.
(This is the only picture I have of him on this computer. I have several on the other computer that I cannot get into because I had it fucking fixed and lost all kinds of shit. Dammit!)
He had been dead for days. The last time I had talked to him was Sunday when he was planning on taking me out for dinner for my birthday, which was Friday. He had a couple of friends talk to him on Sunday also. But no one had talked to him during the week.
He had a friend coming into town to work and had planned to stay with him, but he couldn’t reach him by phone. So he and another friend went over to the house. They couldn’t get him to answer the door so they went to another friend’s to get a key to the house. They found him in the bedroom.
He apparently died of a heart attack. He was suffering from Parkinson’s and was not in the best of health. He was fighting it as hard as he could, but the doctor told him last month that he had about two years to live. Regardless, he was strong in spirit. He was not going down easily.
Stephen was also gentle, funny and caring. He worried about his friends and me. He laughed and joked often and was really the funniest one in the family. Now I am. I’m all that’s left.
I think it was meant to be that Marni was there with me and Judy. She truly loved her Uncle Steve. It was good that we were together and was able to support one another. And Peeps, I have always said that if was was in trouble and in need, I had rather have a bunch of sailors around me than any other force. We are tight and they (and their wives) were there for us, too. Thanks, guys!
I know I will suffer later. But right now I am just too busy. I haven’t had time to come to terms with all this. I had to stay in VA because I had things to do with the reunion, and realistically there was nothing to do at home. I did spend my birthday on a tour, but was on the phone with family and friends most of the time.
Judy and I got home Sunday afternoon to a sick dog that had to have doggie meds picked up, and then drove the 100 miles to Steve’s house to try and find insurance policies and stuff. We spent the night there. Then we spent today making arrangements for the funeral. Tell ya what, Peeps. It cost more to die than it does to live. It is a crime what they charge to bury someone. I would go into the business… if I didn’t have to deal with all those dead people.
Anyway, that is how I went from the highest high (legally) to the lowest low in a matter of three hours.
Plus my driver’s license expired on my birthday - last Friday. Who checks that shit anyway? Evidently not me.
But the cop who pulled me over on the way home did. That's how I found out it had run it's course. But the cop didn't give me a ticket. She asked me why I was going 53 in a 35 and I told her I just didn't realize I was going that fast because I was talking to my wife. She said I can understand that, ran my license and just told me to slow down. That was a good thing.
So I have to go tomorrow and renew them, too. Plus I left my truck keys at Stephens house.
GIVE ME A BREAK!