Friday, May 25, 2007

He came into my life when I was around 11. He was one that was always ready for some fun. He was always smiling, ready to entertain "the troops" of my sisters and I. My oldest sister met him at the bowling alley on Fort Lewis. He was a GI and she was engaged at the time. As it turned out, not for long. His name was Ken. He eventually became my brother in law.

He came into my life at the perfect time. Soon my parents split up, my dad moved to Korea, and chaos took over our house. Literally.

I know that Ken didn't add a calming effect to the family. He was an only child who never made us younger kids feel like he didn't want us around. We were his sisters. He was our brother. I had always wanted a big brother and this one I didn't fight with. He taught us things and gave us experiences that I will always treasure but would have made my mom (and probably my sister, his wife) flip out.

He taught us about green beer on St. Patricks day. He taught us what off roading was. He lied to my sister and told her that he was taking me and Gina to the movies for my 13th birthday and took me to the waterfront where all the other GI's hung out. Really, he taught me how to party. He also included his friends but he made it very clear to them that "his sisters" were off limits and castration would be in order if they chose to break that (no matter how much WE liked his friends!) We felt safe, loved, and included.

When Gina and I ran away we called him. And when mom discovered we were gone he lied to her to give us time to figure out what we wanted to do. Then he convinced us to go home. He would tell me how important school was, help with homework, and try to convince me that boring things like the cotton gin were important things to learn. I still know that Ely Whitney invented the cotton gin because of that argument! It's funny, because I'm now teaching the same stuff to my kids and loving history.
Eventually he got out of the Army (joined the reserves instead) and they moved to SC. They had two beautiful kids together before things didn't work out for their marriage. My sister got tired of the party attitude. After 9/11 he rejoined the Army and became stationed in Germany. Then he was deployed to Iraq.

He was injured. Saw horrible things but made it through 2 tours before they sent him home to Germany. He came back and spent some time with the kids (not really kids, but teens) before going home. Three months later he was taken from this earth. His physical body buried at Arlington, on his daughters 16th birthday.

I miss him. I thank God that I let him know how much I still cared and how much he touched my life when I still had a chance. He is still my brother.

I have been thinking about memorial day and all the sacrifices so many have made so I am able to live the life I choose. I grew up an AF brat and know well the emotions of my dad going away for weeks, months, and years. I know the toll it took on mom to be a married single-parent. I know the troops sacrifice their time, their family, and potentially their health and life. Thanks to all who make that sacrifice for me and my family. We are praying for the troops and their families.


Toni said...

Ken sounds wonderful! Sorry he is no longer with you!

KarenW said...

I am sorry for your loss. What a wonderful tribute to him and all who serve. I was a Navy brat.

Amy said...

That was a beautiful tribute De. Very handsome. I am so sorry for your loss.

I think sometimes people end to forget what's really going on unless they are witnessing it first hand.

We just hired a young man (20) that was on the front lines in Iraq. We just praise God he came back in one piece!

melody said...

This was a beautiful tribute. Ken and so many brave Americans have given lives for freedom, and I thank them with all my heart.