Friday, September 16, 2016
It seems a strange thing
A very curious and strange thing that I have been privileged to witness the death of quite a few people during my time.
The strange part is the fact that I do feel privileged as opposed to grief, or sadness. Certainly not happy in any way, and some I would take great pleasure in being able to once again enjoy their company and conversation... even their love. To once again see their smiles and hear their stories.
But, I mean to say that I am glad, even if only for a moment, to have been touched by their lives. Whether it was for good or ill.
I think the first death I was aware of was a young boy in my 6th grade class, Berven Chipley. He and his brother we playing in the woods. Their activity was finding dead pine trees that were still standing and if they could they'd push against them until they started rocking back and forth and snapped off. Unfortunately on the last one when it snapped instead of falling away from them it snapped off and fell toward them. His brother escaped, but a pine limb pierced him through the liver and pinned him to the ground.
He'd seemed a happy boy with family that loved him. While I was not close to him, nor attended his funeral, I marveled at the outpouring of grief and love my classmates expressed.
My first glimpse of mortality.
The next followed soon after when my maternal Grandfather passed from stomach Cancer. From a tall hale man he'd withered down to a shell of his former self, to the point that my mother could pick him up and turn him in his bed. My Grandmother had started taking in borders to pay the bills when he got sick and she kept that up until dying many years later at the age of 75. And I saw love and nurturing, caring, yes and grief, but an enduring spirit that always stuck with me.
A great uncle who died of leukemia not long after I'd married.
Young student pilots engaged in forbidded helicopter antics during flight school in Mineral Wells, Texas
Comrades-in-Arms in Vietnam. Some by enemy action, many during acts of heroism, a couple by suicide, and two by stupidity.
Some were very close and dear to me and many I only knew because we served together. All touched me more than I would recognize or admit for long years after.
And there were the enemy. Quite a few I'm sure by my actions.
I learned to respect them.
So many through the years, for it seems that as the years go faster so to do the number of deaths that impact you pile up faster and faster. And each one leaves it's mark.
My father in an accident, totally unexpected. Grandmother, Grandfather, aunts and uncles. My Mother after a long long struggle.
And along the way there were the animals; dogs, cats, cows, horses, and of course the animals that provided food.
I'd never been afraid of making the hard choice and even committed a few in great anger that it was necessary. Maybe because in some way I caused it, or contributed to it.
But, now I'm faced with the, not possibility, but the certainty that my old dog, Gracie Mae, that Dalmatian, fur shedding, one blue eye and one brown, almost 19 years of happiness and joy of having me as her human is literally on her (I want to say last legs) but, the front two work fine. And she gives the first impression of being much younger, as she runs to see me, begs for touching and petting pushing herself up against me, just for the pleasure it gives her seemingly to have me around.
I'm faced with the choice of keeping her around until she one day can't or won't be able to get up, or paying some veterinarian that doesn't know her to give a final injection, or do it myself in a somewhat more brutal, but almost Viking send off. Which thing I have done many times..
But this time.