Monday, March 12, 2012

Obituary of a Brother

Riding in winter time - What a TRIP!

Well, its been a fairly long winter, and now spring is fast approaching.  You couldn't tell me that, though. I never really "parked" the Harley for the winter.  I've been in and out every couple weeks on it.  Its been a couple months and life has been filled with challenges.  OK - maybe that's a bad word.  How about nightmares! Or stressed beyond a reasonable doubt! Riding set aside, its been a wacky time around the house.   Spring is coming, however, and I am looking forward to warmer temps, clearer skies, and my first saddle soreness of the year.  Spring always brings out the most positive thoughts in me.  For whatever reason, its like a reawakening of my spirit, like the flowers that bloom in the garden. The senses, usually numb from the winter cold, suddenly burst into action, and the mind is bombarded by the sights, smells, touches, and sounds of spring.  The aching doldrums of winter slowly subdue into a soon to be sea of green and dotting blooms.   You can feel it in the air, and even the birds are beginning to sing a lovely spring song!

From LEFT: Rich, Tara, Don, Rhonda and I
Family Reunion 1997

You cannot have good, however, without the bad.  To this end I am forced to deal with the death of my youngest brother, Rich.  Through some research, and a bit of tenacity, Mary uncovered a death notice for him dated September 2010. With some luck, and a rather understanding funeral home, we confirmed that Rich did pass away September 6th, 2010, in a hotel in Abilene, Texas at age 40.  The cause of death was attributed to massive alcoholic intake which led his heart to simply stop.  What really happened that night we may never know, however, I find myself in a bit of an emotional dilemma.  For many years I often wondered where my siblings were, given we were separated from each other while I was 7 years old.  Having been reunited with them in 1997, we never really kept in close contact with Rich.  To that end, I never "knew" him as a brother or family member.  The other side of it is he was my brother, and his story has never really been told.  I feel an emotional attachment to him, but part of my dilemma is I never really knew Rich the way I know a good friend. Perhaps in the weeks and months ahead I may be able to make some sense of his life and his death.  RIP Rich.

Mary Thanksgiving

It has been a rather lengthy period of time since my last post.  Christmas to be exact.  Mary has been thru her knee surgery.  Total knee replacement can be daunting for anyone.  Its been about 7 weeks since surgery, and progress has been rather slow at times.  So far the knee is performing well, but healing is slow.  Her knee continues to hold some swelling, and it still requires physical therapy a few times a week, however, Mary is moving around relatively pain free, and although still needs a cane or crutch to keep her balance, looks to be another successful knee patient.  There is still much to be done, however, between her back improving and the knee replacement, she feels better, a bit stronger, and seems....taller? After living for years in pain, finally getting a doctor to LISTEN has been a bit of a relief.  While she won't be doing any downhill slalom skiing, she is up and about. Always a good thing.


The kids are well.  Jesse has moved on from Wal Mart, and is trying to pursue other opportunities, or "challenges" as I call them.  Cheyenne is ALMOST finished with high school.  To say she is looking forward to it probably is a bit of an understatement.  She has done well, tries hard, but I think her biggest relief will be in May.  We did learn last week, however, that her first year of tuition at the community college is now covered by a scholarship program aimed at helping to develop skills in children who are "challenged" in school.  Her second year should have at least 40% tuition covered.  So all we need are books.  The program that offers these scholarships only take up to 3 students every year, so this is a very special achievement for her and for us as parents!  Her major will be graphic design, something she has been looking into for a couple years now.  The biggest thing is to maintain her focus, something that her father wasn't very good at!

Freedom Rock

Took some time this past weekend to make my annual pilgrimage to a little place in western Iowa called Freedom Rock. Its a rather large rock situated on Highway 25, about 1 mile south of Interstate 80.  Every year during Memorial Weekend the artist covers the rock in a freshly designed mural, giving honor to the nations veterans who have served our country. I had not been to the Rock for the 2011 design, as I was decidedly out of state when I normally do that.  As I recall, I was at Mount Rushmore! This year, I believe, the artist has outdone himself.  The pictures should speak to that.  From the main image on the front of the rock, to paying honor to 9-11, Sgt Salvatore Gunta, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan, to a memorial of the Seal Team members who were tragically killed when their helicopter was shot down.  Even the mural depicting a Vietnam soldier whose ashes are mixed in to the paint was breathtaking.  The ride to was fairly windy, causing my return trip to be a bit delayed, but the weather was picture perfect, nice and clear.  I made it home just as the last ray of sunlight left the sky.  Thank goodness - I am Alive!

There will be other trips on my Harley this year.  My hope is to travel around Lake Michigan, maybe stop and see family and friends, perhaps a 4 day trip to Rapid City and the Badlands.  Thankfully there are plenty of destinations!  I had hoped to attend the annual "Run For The Wall" that is followed by The Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally in Washington, DC this year, however, that goal will have to wait another year.  It is my hope that I attend that event, which starts in California and goes for about 10 days.  It is the pinnacle of riding to cross the United States on a bike, but to end up in Washington DC on Memorial Day to see the festivities is something I have been dreaming of for several years now.  To pay honor to our veterans means everything to me, although there are some who might suggest otherwise.  I am reminded of our Honor Flights every year, and how a simple "Thank You" goes so very far with these men and women.  What more deserving honor than to line up and let our politicians know our veterans DESERVE to be honored, to be respected, to receive the gifts this country has to offer.  Unfortunately this year - Cheyenne is graduating from school, but next year, I hope its in the works!

Until next time everyone........Eyns Vey Drey ....DUPAH!!!

Peace & Love Everybody!

No comments:

Post a Comment