This morning, as I sit at the computer with a cat purring beside me, I wonder what I should write about. I’m not a very good writer, I have no aspiration to be famous, but there is a release in writing, and well as the mental challenge of keeping the written words fresh in an aging brain. As I considered what to write about two pictures on my desk stared back at me. I am not sure why they are below my blotter, but they’ve been there a long time and I’m not willing to chase them away.
Susan, a fragile girl, gone far too soon from this life is the first one. She was, and still remains, a cousin from my Mother’s twin sister. She, as did her siblings, grew up in a rural part of New York, surrounded by the hills of the Catskill Mountains. Her home as well as most of the land she grew up on has been bought up by the Rockefeller family to establish a private retreat for the rich, famous, and well connected of New York. I understand Tom Brokaw, or maybe it was Dan Rather, now owns part of a mountain near the house Susan grew up on.
Susan had a good, but apparently troubled, heart. She drifted for a while, and was caught up in the great medical tragedy of the 1980’s. AIDS took her life in the 90’s, and her picture has been on my desk since then. A sad reminder of a life lost. She left behind a husband who had shared her journey as well as two sisters and two brothers each of whom traveled through their own minefields to be the people they became.
As I think back to Susan, and her childhood, the similarities of our two families is striking, but then again so are the differences. I wonder if there was some quantifiable difference that led to such different outcomes?
The second picture was taken in 1991, at Incirlik AB, Turkey. It has three uniformed individuals. There was Staff Sergeant “Sandy,” Master Sergeant “Paul,” and me. This picture also graces a coffee cup I’ve used for now 26 years. It was taken during Operation Provide Comfort and these two individuals were my staff during my time as the detachment commander for the AFSOC forces deployed to support the resupply and rescue requirements of that operation.
Both individuals were outstanding examples of the leadership and resourcefulness of the non-commissioned officer force. We parted ways after the deployment, and while I think fondly of them, I’ve not seen them since. Their presence on my desk is a simple reminder of a life I once led.
Well, the day calls and it is time to put these ghosts to rest.