Friday, September 24, 2010

San Antonio - Day Three

Another very full day. Of course, this morning was devoted to delivering the news to Berinda. I won't go into a lot of details, because this was her private moment of devastation and grief. She handled it pretty well, though. She cried, "I miss him! I miss him! I miss him!" And I just held her and rocked her and cried with her and said, "I miss him, too," and assured her that he would be there waiting for us when we get to "heaven." The wonderful thing about Berinda is that she pretty much stays "in the moment." She will have moments of grief, but she doesn't get stuck in emotions like the rest of us do.

The next stop was the reunion remembrance ceremony. Unfortunately, I have never been able to get to "Security Hill" (the location of the event) from any point in San Antonio without getting lost. I don't know why this is. I use a GPS navigator and there is nothing rational about it. Today was no exception. I was very nearly in tears before I finally got on the base and parked six blocks from the ceremony (all the other streets were blocked off) and race-walked to the EC-47 display in the heat and humidity.

I managed to get there before they began the reading of the names -- it was the only reason I was there, to hear Bill's name and observe the honors that followed (21-gun salute, taps, missing man flyover). I was alone, so when the emotions became too much, I could easily step away and just allow it. The Missing Man Formation has always been a tear trigger for me -- it's the combination of the jet noise ("the sound of freedom" as a colleague of mine used to call it) and the one jet pulling away from the others and flying off alone while the others remain in formation.

A picnic followed, and of course it was back where I left the car. This time, I took a bus! No kidding, the heat and humidity were KILLER today! I shared the bus ride with a very old friend -- well, he's older than me and we've been friends for a long time, since the early 80s. As we disembarked at the picnic grounds, we ran into other acquaintances and my friend would turn to me and say, "You know Joe Farquart (name changed), don't you?" And I would look at "Joe" and say "I used to know a Joe Farquart, but he had thick dark hair and didn't have a belly. You must not be the same person."

It was the same person. Every time. I just don't know what happened to these guys! I know I haven't changed that much -- well, except for the white hair, the age spots, the lactose intolerance and the swollen ankles. And perhaps some memory issues.

Speaking of memory issues: I have been blithely going along on this trip thinking I wasn't going home until Tuesday, and then I happened to look at my itinerary this afternoon. I go home on Monday! I have been doing a lot of that kind of absent-minded stuff. I forget if I have taken my medicine so I had to get a pill saver to keep track of it. I forget to take addresses and directions and check times and so I arrive late or not at all. These are things that drive me absolutely batty when someone else does it, and I am doing all the time right now. I know it isn't permanent, at least I hope not, and I hope my friends will forgive me if this has affected them in any way. I'm just kind of a ditz right now.

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