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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lousy Weekends

(Caution: Venting ahead)
I usually look forward to weekends. Lately though, they've been kind of lousy, this coming one will be worse that that.

Last weekend started out great, after working a 4 day, 45 hour week, I was looking forward to some rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

Friday night my son asked if I'd heard about the accident onboard USS Frank Cable, a submarine tender homeported in Guam. I had, 7 sailors had been listed as injured when a steam pipe burst during checks on the safety valves.

He then said he'd heard one of the injured was from Zion, and had died. I know a lot of the young men and women from Zion who've joined the Navy, since I've been involved with the high schools NJROTC program for a number of years, so it really bugged me, thinking I might know the guy. When he said the last name was Valentine, it gave me a shiver, I worked with a guy named Valentine, with kids at the school, who was retired Navy.

Then Saturday I got an e-mail from the guy who hired me for my first "real job" after retiring from the Navy. The young man who died was the son of my former supervisor, a guy I respected a lot when I worked with him.

I didn't know Jack, the young man who died, from the school, though I found out later saturday when I caught up with my daughter that he was a "lunch buddy" her freshman and sophmore years. She had recently reconnected with him through his sister's MySpace page, and so for a good part of Saturday we tried consoling her.

Military deaths are a lot easier to explain; especially in wartime; when a bomb, sniper, or some enemy takes a life. When it's an accident, doing routine maintenance, it's a lot harder to take, and explain.

That, though, wouldn't be enough, evidently my weekends are made for punishment not relaxation. Later Saturday I talked to my oldest brother, who's mother-in-law has been fighting a long battle with cancer, and found she's not well at all, and has been in the hospital for most of the week battling other ailments brought on by her weakened condition.

My brother and his wife are rocks. I know that I couldn't handle this nearly as well as they are, but I also know that it's draining, tiring, frustrating, and many other adjectives that I can't describe not being as close to the situation. I just hope that when he needs a shoulder, he realizes both of mine are available.

So now, instead of this coming weekend being something to look forward to, I'm dreading it. Sunday we have a visitation to attend for a young man who gave his life doing something he loved, but that doesn't make it easier, better, or more right. It still just makes him not here anymore, with a devastated family. I have no idea what to say to his father when I see him, my kids will both be there, probably looking to me for words that aren't there.

And every time my phone rings, I'll worry it's my brother with bad news from his family.

Can I just fast forward to some other day?

Donations in memory of MRFN Jack Valentine can be made to the USO or Camp Zion, at Christ Community Church in Zion, IL.


Blogger shoprat said...

When I was in basic training at RTC Great Lakes in 75 I had the misfortune of seeing a man die not far from me. It was during a PT session and it was a combination of the heat, exertion, and some illegal drugs that he had somehow gotten ahold of. We knew something was wrong when the PT session got cut very short and we were marched back to our barracks. That evening our CC called us to the front of the barracks and told us what had happened. We didn't know him because he wasn't with our company, but it put a damper on everything.

You can die as many ways in the military as you can in the real world. I am sorry for your loss and especially your daughter's loss.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not so much that you're lacking in words and wisdom here, Bob. I think sometimes there are no words, and only a hug will do.

I'll keep everyone in my prayers.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Uber, thanks for the advice, knowing of your year I'll take it as the best I can get.

Shoprat, sometimes even us military "lifers" forget that all of the ways folks in the real world can go can get us too. I just hate to see it happen to someone so young.

8:35 PM  
Blogger rachel said...

I'm in Uber's camp. It's hard to come up with the right thing to say at times like this. But if you were nearby I'd offer chocolate or beer or whatever you thought might help. Hang in there. My thoughts are with you and yours.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tagging you Bob.


5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. I know it won't be easy, but I am sure you too are a rock.

11:27 AM  

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