Once upon a time I could hold my breath for up to 6 minutes underwater. I panicked several professional life guards by diving off of the high dive at our local swimming pool and sitting on the bottom of the pool until they freaked out and dove in to “rescue” me. I thought it was quite a fun game, at the time.
I could get dismissed from school at 1530 hrs (the normal time) and start jogging, going from Lebo, to Emporia, (both in Kansas, USA) and get there before my mom got off from work at 1700 hrs. It was a 22 mile run, and I was still in high school.
When my physical conditioning coach convinced the school board to buy a “Universal Gym” I set records for leg presses and bench presses. I was the only person in my school who could leg press more than 4x his own weight.
And when my home team competed in baseball, I was one of three persons on the team who could consistently knock that baseball out of the park for a home run.
So, why is it that 45 years later I can’t even take out our trash without getting winded? I’m in serious pain all day, every day. The pain even compromises my ability to sleep.
My brother-in-law accuses me of being lazy. He thinks I should be sucking down pain meds and continuing to go to work. Never mind the fact that I’d already been doing that for 10 years before he joined the US Army and became my (philosophical) brother in uniform. It didn’t even matter that years later his younger sister would choose me to be her husband.
In some ways, I was better off with my first wife’s family. The only person in that family who didn’t like me was her father. But, that relationship didn’t survive, and eventually I met my second wife. The one who’s older brother thinks I’m lazy.
Here’s the weird part – he admits that he thinks his own mother (my mother-in-law) is either crazy or has dementia. Even so, he accepts her counsel on whether or not I’m a good partner for his sister. Never mind the fact that I was already an Army veteran before he enlisted., or that his mother was married twice, and both marriages together didn’t survive for 25 years. Never mind the fact that he himself has never managed a marriage that lasted more than 15 years. Still – his sister and I have been a couple for nearly 24 years, and in 1.5 years will celebrate our silver wedding anniversary.
I’m pretty sure that by now everyone who reads my blog knows that I’m proud to be a US Army veteran. But, I did nothing more than join the service. I never saw combat. Others paid a far higher price, and one particular group of veterans were most deserving of the sobriquet they eventually were tagged with – “The Greatest Generation”. I know this is a few days early, but I want to do my part to keep the memory alive. So, here is my annual post in remembrance of December 7th, 1941.