I’ve had another bout with death and decided I don’t like it very much. A friend of the family passed away two weeks ago and I have been fighting the blahs ever since. She was the wife of a very dear friend who headed the family we first met in 1970 over in Japan. That’s 40 years ago.
Their family and mine got along extremely well from day one. They lived across the small square from us so our kids were always together. Hers fit right in between ours in age and could always be seen running and shouting across the square. She and my wife would go out shopping everywhere. Most of the time one or the other would drive but occasionally they would go downtown and hop a train over to Hachinohe; the next largest town to Misawa.
According to my wife, these train trips were the cause of much hilarity as both of them were what would be called ‘larger size’. Note you, though, being ‘larger size’ in Japan is like being ‘normal’ here in the States. The facing seats on the train would be so close together that they would take up a whole four-person area.
They would set off on an adventure that could end up anywhere. She was of the opinion that if they didn’t understand her, talk louder. Getting along while shopping was a treat.
He and I would do more ‘guy’ things. One day he came over and asked me to help him pick out a stereo system for him. We both went down to the local electronics store and began shopping. What he ended up with was a real top-of-the-line stereo system that would, in the words of back then, kick some ass. Everything from record changer to tape deck to amp, tuner, and speakers were purchased that day. He still has them in his living room 40 years later.
His family settled back in their home town over in Pennsylvania and we moved all over after I retired. We never lost touch though. Funerals (their son died from a heart condition), weddings (their son married his long-time sweetheart when he came back from Iraq), and just a general visit happened whenever we happened to be living nearby. We drove over for this funeral from Ohio – just a four-hour trip.
We had never been to a Southern Baptist service of any type, and certainly not a funeral, but couldn’t have been more happy at what transpired. It absolutely was NOT a funeral in the true sense of the word, but a celebration of her life. At times, some of the speakers would get somber, but mostly expressions of joy and laughter reigned supreme. My little contribution brought more laughter.
My wife and I were asked to sit with the family which was a great honor for us. As it turned out, the small church, which could hold maybe 120 was totally full with standing room only. There were only five white faces in the entire crowd of friends; me and my wife, an aunt and uncle of the son’s wife, and the son’s wife. It was wonderful, but very sad.
i did my taxes the other weekend. Every time I do them it gets easier. My income has trickled down to nothing but Social Security (her and I) plus my Navy retirement pay. What savings and portfolios we had have dwindled down to less than half of what we started with seven years ago. What 9/11 didn’t slice off, the latest financial boondoggles threw down the toilet. We are hanging on though and won’t let this latest mess get us down. My greatest desire is for one word – accountability – to come out of the background and be applied to each and every person or institution that handles my, or anyone’s, money. Without that, we’ll never get better.