20 years ago, I woke up to a screaming drill instructor, chaos, mind games, and effectively running everywhere I went. I lived in a green uniform, seeing no other colors but black, green, and brown for months. I swam in 10 foot deep water with 120 pounds of gear, went 3 days and 48 miles of marching on 4 hours of total sleep (and one meal). I didn’t speak with my family for 13 weeks, other than the occasional letter. I ran until I died, and then ran some more. Rifle marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, history, military legal codes, uniform standard, rappelling, gas chambers, and a multitude of other subjects were drilled into my head, non-stop, and if I should not be sufficient in any given one, I would be held back and given another week on that godforsaken island in South Carolina.
Marine Corps recruit training (boot camp) was the hardest thing I had ever done, and for a long time, I thought it would be the hardest thing I would ever do.
If it was, I wouldn’t be writing to you today.Read more
Yesterday was memorial day in the United States. Every year, on the last Monday in May, we Americans fire up the grill, go to parades, ignite fireworks, buy red-white-and-blue everything, and celebrate the unofficial start of summer. We hang our flags, complain about the heat, and have a drink or four to commemorate the day off from work.
Meanwhile, like many holidays in the United States, we forget the actual meaning and purpose of the holiday. Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day”, and no, it didn’t signify decorating our McMansions with red white and blue windsocks and ensuring our patio furniture had just the right feng shui to go with our new $700 grill that we got at a Memorial Day blowout sale. It was originally intended as a somber event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. One would visit a cemetery to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. It morphed into including all men and women of any war after World War I.
History lessons aside, it’s a tough day for many widows, but for the majority of Americans, it’s a day off.Read more
As 5 years without you, edges its' way ever nearer to me, and as my heart and soul hear the shuffle of time coming closer, creeping past, zooming closer, flying past..
As these ten thousand years have passed, since his death, as each nanosecond passes in the here and now, I remember how he loved me, how I loved him.
I remember his calm spirit and his groan-worthy jokes. I remember his dedication to the military and how glad he was to retire, having done his time. His quiet rebellions that grew from holding his own counsel and just going about business in the way he knew he needed to do. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, he told me many times, and that thought carried him through his military service. I remember how he not only read the Big Book of AA but read what it all meant, and the history of it; he gave context to AA and the 12 Steps and Tradition, and living a life of sobriety. Chuck lived his sobriety as honestly as he could, every day. Not perfectly, but as well as he could, and he earned the respect of many because of it.
His promise wasn’t given lightly, and I could count on his promises being kept. His promises were his word, given as a gentleman of old times would give his word. It was his honor, and he held true to it, whether that promise was made to me or one of our kids or a friend or anyone else.
Before I was a widower, father, husband, or IT manager, I was a Marine. 15 years ago, I was driving into my platoon’s shop, listening to Howard Stern, as I did every morning, when he suddenly stopped his usual schtick, and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. They bantered on a bit about it, and, at the time, no one really knew what exactly had happened.
I listened for the 15 minutes or so it took for me to get into the shop, and when I arrived, some of my fellow Marines were gathered around a small TV, watching news coverage, just as the south tower was hit. Even then, I hadn’t thought about the greater implications. It was simply a horrific attack to us. A few hundred faceless, nameless people had just perished in a plane crash in Manhattan.
Then we heard the fighter jets taking off.
Last Saturday I went to a reunion at the airbase in Jersey from which Chuck retired. The reunion was made up of crew and maintainers of the C-141’s, the cargo plane that my husband flew on as a flight engineer. That was before my time, but he spoke of those days, and, more so, the plane, often, in our years together. He was so proud of his time in service, and I was equally proud of him.
They invited me to join them, and it touched my heart. I went as Chuck Dearing’s widow, and they welcomed me as that, and they welcomed me for myself, an FWG traveling the country in honor and memory of a man we all loved and respected.Read more
I have a difficult time defining my life to myself since Chuck died, never mind anyone else. Not that I need to explain it to anyone, but, holy shit, does it come up in conversation. Not just this widowhood, but my lifestyle.
I full-time on the road, as many of you know. In the last year I’ve taken more time off the road than I ordinarily would so that I could take care of various issues, such as getting intensive grief/trauma counseling and that kept me in Arizona for just shy of 6 months but the open road is my home. I’m in Arkansas now and I'd initially planned on a lengthier stay, but as it happens, I’m leaving for points east after not quite a month here.Read more