Dean Koonz wrote, “Never leave a friend behind. Friends are all we have to get us through this life – and they are the only thinks in the world that could hope to see in the next.”
I was on the road much of the last two days in order to attend a memorial for one of my friends in Emerald Isle North Carolina. I lived there for three years on an unaccompanied assignment at Camp LeJeuene, and a number of really good people there took me in and became my home away from home community. I got to know them at bar the one of the local restaurants, a place called Rucker John’s. It was like my Carolina version of what I have hear in Virginia, a place like Cheers, where everybody knows your name.
Last year a couple of the guys, Dave, or as we called him “Judge Ito” because he looked just like the real Judge Ito, and Walt, a retired history professor passed away. I wasn’t able to get down for those memorial, both were sudden. However, I was able to get down to be with my friends as we remembered “New York Mike.” Mike was a retiree who had come south for his health and had lived on the island over 20 years. He was one of the people that invited me into their lives, poker games at his condo, get together soon on the beach, times at the bar.
For me that was a hard tour because I was in some of the hardest and deepest struggles with PTSD. But Mike, Judge Ito, Walt, and others including our other Mike, Eddie, Phyllis, Wild Bill, Santa Claus Niel, Bill, and others helped hold me together. I think that is one of the most important things, having people that care about you.
So this was a special time, to be back with those friends remembering New York Mike. About 25 people showed up as Mike’s kids who live in New York had his services up there. What we did was to remember aa friend at a place where all of us hung out. We were the 4 O’clock Club, and Mike was one of the founding members over 20 years ago.
At 5 we all raised a glass and toasted his memory. My friends ask me as “Father Steve” to offer a prayer, and we shared stories about Mike. It was really touching. A place was set for Mike, a glass filled with his favorite Merlot at an empty seat. At the end of that we released a bunch of balloons onto the crystal clear blue skies. It was nice, and I think that it was good for all of us.
Anyone, a lot going on in politics but I’ll wait until tomorrow to write about those thoughts, as well as getting back to write some more history, as well as a could articles on lighter topics, I’m thinking doing something with some of my favorite story songs from the 70’s and 80’s.
Have a great day,