Sunday, April 18, 2010

FREE at last

Something catastrophic happened here to one of my “new” family members that completely put me off my blogging even as I was already losing steam with it. It was something so horrendous that it just seemed to collapse me from the inside; took the heart right out of me. Maybe I’ll speak of it soon; I don’t know. If I write about it there’s a possibility that it could affect me in a very negative (dangerous) way, so I’ll have to consider carefully if and how I do it. As usual, there’s more to this place than meets the eye. One has to be very careful. The locals KNOW this instinctively; foreigners have to learn it, usually the hard way.

On a different note, as of the end of last year I am no longer a certified service officer for the VFW. I still assist and advise my successor on a small scale basis, but I can no longer sign forms for claimants, or make decisions for them, nor can I go into the embassy and review their case files or represent them during Board of Veterans Appeals hearings. After 7 years it’s a huge relief to have all of that behind me—again (I had “quit” once before for about a year). The responsibility was more than I wanted to continue to bear. I’m not sure how much longer my very capable replacement will be able to hang in there, but my loyalty to him and my deep respect for his integrity and altruistic devotion to duty keeps me hanging in there as his little helper bee.

Anyway, now that I’m free at last I want to enjoy being retired while I'm still able. Life is short, a phrase that I've used for years, but its taken on REAL meaning as I realize that I ONLY have a couple of decades left (if I'm lucky). For any younger people who happen to read this, believe me, old age sneaks up on your ass.

Aside from looking in the mirror and seeing the deepening lines, the thinning hair, and the bulging waist, it's been my experience with helping other “old veterans” (guys only a little more advanced than myself) that has shown me that health can be an iffy thing. From them I've seen that you never know when the body will just decide to crap out on you. It seems we are all filled with ticking time bombs; whether it be cancer, a heart attack, or some deadly or lingeringly pernicious disease. Or, getting back to the first paragraph of this post, the end could come from just being shot down in the street like a dog.

Anyway, Vietnam War veteran Buck comes to mind for instance. I played golf with him (or pretended to) for the first year or so after leaving the service. I did so weekly with this air force retiree, a happy go lucky fellow in his late 50s; a gregarious man some dozen or so years older than me. He played 3 or more times a week, something I could never do with my set of restrictive afflictions; so seemingly, he was stronger and in better shape than me. Alas, we had a falling out, more of a clash of personalities you could say, and we stopped playing together. A few years later I learned that this robustly active man had a massive stroke and was suddenly confined to his bedroom, unable to walk and hardly able to speak or feed himself. Within a year a subsequent series of “cerebral vascular accidents” took him further down and finally killed him. There wasn't much left of the original golf playing Buck by that time anyway. At the end he no longer resembled the vibrantly stalwart wise-cracking fellow that I had first met not long before.

Sigh. He never saw it coming. It could happen to you and it can certainly happen to me. It’s a crap shoot. And he's just ONE of many I've seen come and go since my arrival in this place. The lucky ones are those that go out like my friend, army veteran George. He died practically on his feet by way of a massive heart attack or aneurism. Bang. Gone. Feeling queasy, he leaned over to splash water on his face in the sink. He closed his eyes to do so and never opened them again. Geez, I have many more examples but I think the point is made. I'm already depressed enough as it is.

So, with that bit of morose observation presented let’s just say that I want to experience some of the good things that this life has to offer before it’s my turn to go down. Pursuant to that ambition we headed south for almost a week for one of my favorite places in the world—Puerto Galera. I'll write that post next. Pictures too! Including bikinis. Don't worry; I'm not the one wearing them. See you then....


Ed said...

I was beginning to think that you had gotten tapped to work on Obama's cabinet!

Seriously, glad to see you are still around. I haven't gotten in a serious political verbal scrap in awhile.

roger1959 said...

Good to see you posting again.

Yah I also lost a couple of friends in the PI this past year.

Looking forward to the PG report.