This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend!
A Time for family and friends to get together for cook-outs and parties and so forth. And especially around these parts, it is more or less the kick-off weekend for the Summer VACATION TIME as well.And let's not forget all those terrific SALES at all the stores too!!
For the recent past few days for whatever the reason....I have been thinking about old friends.
Actually I've been haunted by the memories of 3 old friends who've died and left this Earth far earlier than what I figure, they really should have.
Let me start out by saying that all of these folks are not military veterans. And although Memorial Day is suppose to be reserved for the rememberance of those who have sacrificed their lives for our country....I still find it hard not to think of my late friends now too, at this same time of year.
In speaking recently with a close friend about these intrusive thoughts of long dead buddies....I was advised there may be a good reason for it.
I am no longer working. Retired. Disabled. Whatever. But I am not employed. Therefore I do have a lot of free time on my hands these days. Unlike before. During my many years of working for a living, I was always busy and had plenty of things on my mind. If a close friend passed away, I felt bad of course. And I felt the loss. But I was able to put the sad feelings away, and not dwell on them. Back in the file drawers of my brain went the pain and the grief of my loss. And there all that stuff stayed.
Over the years, these awful feelings just kept building up inside me as they were stored away in the memory banks deep inside my psyche. Away from the forefront of my thinking and of my regular day-to-day feelings.
But now it seems, with all this free time on my hands....those old locked away thougthts are beginning to crawl back out and resurface. More than just thoughts, these are images of these peole who come to me from within my mind just as vividly as if they were standing right here over my shoulder. What do they want? And why won't they go back and stay in those drawers I hid them in so many years ago?
Maybe there are some things they wanted to tell me, that they never did.
But more than that....maybe there were some long forgotten things that I wanted to TELL THEM.....that I never got a chance to say.
Here we are. Memorial Day Weekend. Hoping that maybe now, by saying the things I never had the chance to say. That maybe just maybe they can finally be put back to rest forever. I am not saying I ever want to forget these people. These 3 good freinds of mine But I want to be able to remember them in good ways. And not be tormented by bad memories.
So let me think of those guys who have been popping up recently. Vince, Jerry, Pat. Here you are....now let's talk.
First of all,Vince. It was not completely your fault. But why, buddy did you have to fall asleep on the way to work and hit that tree? You never got enough rest, that's why. You always had so many irons in the fire, that you could not get proper rest for your tired ol' bones. Were you too haunted by the memories of fallen friends and of the death and terror you experienced on Vietnam? Did it cause you to have problems with sleeping too. Is that why you were always keeping yourself so busy? Was it to take your mind off of the past?
I miss you buddy. I'm honestly sorry we didn't get a chance to spend more time together than we did. We both experienced a hard year in those stinkin' jungles. And although it was hell...I don't really think I would ever want to go back and change a thing about it. We were lucky to return as we did. Lucky because we were fortunate enough to have Zippo for our C.O.... and he always made sure we had our shit together. Of all the carreer choices to make, why did you choose to become a cop? And a State Trooper at that? Why...I think...is because you could not stand by and see what was happening around our local world, knowing that somebody had to stand up to the bad guys and protect the ones that could not protect thmeselves. And as you were a 101st Airborne Infantry Grunt Trooper in the 'nam, you also wanted to be the best back here at home. So you joined the NJ State Police. The most dedicated,hard core professional police force in the country.
But you gave your life too soon. After making it home through all the crap we went through. You had to go and die in a car accident back here in the world. You left the world a sorrier place without you, man. I only hope the new guys on your job can in some way fill the gap you left by dying. God Bless you Vinnie...and I hope we get to meet up again some day in the not too distant future. Currahee,bro!
And as for you Pat. My God buddy...why didn't you wait up for me? You were always such a good guy and we had a lot of fun together pal. I can still taste that deer meat you used to bring me when I'd make up some deer-steak subs with it. And remember the time the father of that girl you had out camping all night came back to the lake...and you had to take off and hide in the woods or you might've got your ass shot at? And the night when we dove off the boat out in the river. Drinkin' a few beers,swimming, chasin' women and having a ball.
But the night you werekilled. How come you couldn't wait just a couple minutes more before taking off down that road on your motorcycle? But maybe its me, who should say, "I'm sorry" for not just forgetting about finishing my beer...and heading back to town the same time that you left. Who knows if things may have been different? Or maybe it would have been me instead of you. Why didn't that bastard let you pass him and not crowd you back into that oncoming car? All I can ever hope is that when it hit you, it was so hard and fast that you didn't feel anything. I don't drink much anymore Pat. In fact rarely if ever. My drinks of choice are either Coffee, Ice Tea or Diet Pepsi. What I wouldn't give if we were like that back in those days. Not drinking shots n beers.And if you could still be here. Well, it might be kind of different. But I sure wouldn't have to miss you, pal. You take care up there,Pat. And save me some deer meat. I'll see you before too long.
Hey Jerry. How's things wherever you are? I hope you made it to Heaven. But from what I have been taught in church, some the finest and nicest people don't make it there if they shoot themselves. I sure hope that part ain't true. What were you thinking when you pulled that trigger? Russian Roulette! Were you just nuts? Or were you depressed? What made you come to the end, the way you did? And what's it like on the other side? I remember the first time you stopped by on your chopper when I was living down by the river. Back in the Hurry-Back days. When you were first starting out as a Bartender. Man, we didn't have a care in the world did we? Or if we did....we sure didn't dwell on them. I guess we spent so much time drinking and smoking weed back in those days, that we didn't have room in our heads to hold a lot of worries. Just a bunch of extraneous bull-shit,man. I'd already lost my first wife and son to another guy. And was right in the middle of losing my current live in lady at the time. So I had nothing to do but work and party. I partied too hard I suppose. And I worked too many hours on top of that. But I had to keep myself busy. Busy, drunk or high. I was the lucky one I guess. You aren't here anymore. But I am. Sometimes I don't think I'm necessarily the lucky one. But at least I still have a chance to do better than I used to. Maybe try and make up for past mistakes.
Jerry, I'm married to my 3rd wife now. And if you met her, you'd love her. I only wish you could have gotten past whatever it was, that was bothering you...and made it to the point of having some real happiness of your own. I miss you bro. And all the laughs we had,man....and sometimes I even miss the old days. But I sure don't miss the hang-overs. God Bless your weary soul my friend. I hope you're finally at peace now.You are not forgotten. Never.
Nothing I could ever do will ever erase the memories of these 3 old dear friends. Young guys cut down in the prime of their lives. Would things be different now if they were still around? Who knows. But I miss them all. Rest in peace my friends. God Bless you one and all.