Too soon 12

You left us too soon.

I know that your life had already played out and the surgeries and recoveries were getting harder to face. But I had a few more questions I wanted to ask. I’ve had twenty five years to think about them and it still frustrates me that I can’t pick up the phone and call you to seek the answers. Remember we used to talk every Saturday morning when I wasn’t under the water or overseas. I can’t tell you how many years its taken me to get over the fact that I can’t just pick up a simple phone and call you. I can’t believe how much I took that for granted.

Your timing was perfect as always. The morning you died, the man who had made my life a living hell boarded a plane in Miami and headed to his well deserved fate on the other side of the world. You stayed with me as I dealt with the greatest sense of professional frustration I had known up to that point. A career in the Navy that was stopped short of the final goal seemed to be the biggest hurdle in my life. But you were there for me through all of it. You showed me what it was like to overcome obstacles that were bigger than the frustrations I felt at having been cheated out of a better career.

You taught me to pray, read the bible, worship the one true God, be honorable and be true to your principles. It hasn’t always been easy. Sometimes things still happen even when you are trying to do the right thing. Many times I have learned the hard lesson of failures. But I can assure you that in the end, your example was always in the back of my mind as I overcame those obstacles. You taught me that every defeat is a pathway to victory. You climb over the wreckage and keep moving forward. Laying down and crying is not the way forward. The sun will rise again tomorrow.

You taught me to love. It took most of our lives together before you could say the words. Someday we will have to talk about that too. There were times growing up when I suspected it but didn’t quite know for sure if I would ever hear the words. To be fair, I was a bit difficult to love.  I broke more than my share of promises and wrecked your favorite car. My choice of girls probably drove you a bit crazy. Sometimes I wanted to fly when I should have been walking. Its interesting that it was after the worst mistakes were in the rear view mirror, you finally told me that you loved me. Maybe we just had to get through those days.

The last morning I talked to you, you were not really very energetic like you had always been. But your words were clear and we said goodbye with a shared “I love you.” They told me you had gone home after the ship was well out to sea. Maybe its better that way. I can still be a little impulsive and I may have missed a ship’s movement for the very first time. I know you would not have wanted that.

The day we laid your remains to rest was a blur. I barely saw the many people who came to pay their last respects. I distantly remember the crossed hook and ladder fire truck ladders at the entrance to the cemetery. The flyover was touching but I wish I had a recording of the moment. They draped your coffin with the one symbol that meant as much to you as any earthly symbol – the American flag that I still have in a special place.

I know I will see you soon enough. I am nearly the same age as you were when you passed. I have twenty five years of stored up questions for you. I hope you are well rested since I am very anxious to hear your replies. I can still see us walking together in the same cemetery where we buried your earthly body and remember when you hugged me as I went off to see the world. I would trade that whole world for another chance to walk with you again.

To anyone who finds this message and has read this far, I would only offer this thought. Never pass up a chance to say “I Love You” to someone you really love. Never miss the chance to hug them either. You just don’t know when they too will be taken away too soon.

Mister Mac 

12 comments

  1. And Amen. You moved me greatly, Mac, it is so true, but you have an advantage, I have about 40 years of questions stored up. But you know, I think we already know the answers, all we have to do is remember.

    • You are right about many of the answers. I want to know some of the ones that I should have had the presence of mind to ask when I was younger. What was my grandfather like? What was it like sailing on the USS Blackhawk? Were you afraid when you go the orders to go to sea on the Indianapolis for her last run and did you ever regret the last minute change of orders that probably saved your life? So many questions… Hope you are well my friend. Retirement rocks!!!!

      • Yep, I have some of the same ones!, and some different ones, like what did you think when Uncle Sid got into the primary, lived through it, and got promoted, and so you needed a new job. There are a lot of them.

        I am, and hope you are as well. It surely does!! 🙂

  2. Tears.So wishing that my brother and I had shared what you did with your father. “Loose Lips Sink Ships” can be a threat to communications with loved ones.

  3. I’ve waited until now to respond to your post because it did hit so close to me. My Dad was a career carrier sailor (AECM) who was flummoxed at my going into the boats. We had our differences, but I always honored him for his service and for his example. He died from colo-rectal cancer secondary to his exposure to radiation in the Bikini tests; thankfully I was there for him several times during his last few years and at the end. I miss him; his laugh (Bugs Bunny et. al.), his walking tall out the door each day to go ‘to work,’ and his usually quiet demeanor. Yes, gone too soon.

    • Tony, thanks for sharing your thoughts and I understand the loss (as you can imagine). I wonder sometimes how many of our Navy and other military family members are gone too soon because of inadvertent reasons. Dad served for less than two years during the last part of the second world war and just beyond. He inherited his Mother’s genetic predisposition to heart disease as did a number of us that are from that line. I had my heart attack at the same age he did (48) and many of my other issues trace right to him. Maybe that’s the reason I still live life to the fullest. Between serving on five submarines and being around a lot of really toxic stuff, I count each day as a plus. My thoughts are with you friend. Thanks again for staying in touch
      Mac

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