Saturday, July 10, 2010


This past week, the previous conversation with my brother about being numb to loss came rushing back at me with a vengeance.  With the absence of someone to kiss me on the head and tell me everything was going to be OK, I felt  a deep auguring of the soul when I had to bury two very good friends on Wednesday.  They both died the Friday prior an hour apart.  Now their funerals were also an hour apart, on the same day.

One, Don, a retired Firefighter whose funeral services mirrored that of a President of the United States - Firefighter style, and the other, Mildred, a simple powerhouse of a woman, who lost a fight with Alzheimer's that she didn't even know she was fighting. 

Since retiring, Don loved to play Euchre and shoot pool with is lifelong friend, Joe. I most enjoyed the polite trash talking that went on between the two of those fellows.  Gentlemanly, yet hilarious in delivery week after week.  Joe would say he let Don win, then the next week vise versa.  In addition to Don's other lifetime achievements, which were numerous, he was a distinguishably decorated Korean War veteran.

Seeing Don being lifted to and lowered from the top of a Fire Truck, with the FWFD Bag Pipe and Drum Corps blowing Amazing Grace sent chills through me like I have never experienced.  I served in the Coast Guard Ceremonial Guard, and in the Cape May USCG TRACEN Honor Guard and have performed my funeral detail duties in countless numbers, but this one, Don's, was the most honored of them all I ever had the distinct privilege to witness.  The kilts, the bagpipes, 21 gun salute, Taps....surreal.  I thought to myself,  that I should have worn our family's tartan in solidarity, but I hadn't. I chose a different uniform for the showing, and civilian wear, as I stood in the shadows for the days events. My tears ran dry as my heart heaved with pride and deep sorrow; that double edged sword you feel when you are sad for a loss, yet proud of the send-off they are receiving..

The American Legion Post 296 Ceremonial Firing Squad was on hand to fire off the 21 gun salute, fold the flag and present it to the family, while the Fort Wayne Fire Department Bugler echoed taps following Don's Grandson's presentation.  It was as if Taps echoed through a vast and foggy valley with the tune being carried on the wings of angels.

Mildred lived a quiet, hard working life spending 32 years at General Electric. She is the mother of Nancy,  good friend of mine from the American Legion. That's all I'm going to say about Mildred.

As previously mentioned, their funerals were an hour apart.  I've never rushed to a funeral before, and found myself  late to Mildred's as Don's was full of honors that made time stand still as the second hand raced around the face of my watch.

I don't know if I feel numb or not.  In shock, perhaps.  There are now 2 less people in my world of 6 degrees.  Don was within the 2nd degree, and Mildred the 3rd, yet both were loved by me as if they were my own family.  They were those kind of people. I tried to bury myself in work and did, then when it was time to back it all up, the data was lost and 15 hours of distraction was erased for me to begin again another day.

I just don't know what else to say, so I will not attempt it.

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