My nephew, who has handled almost everything up to this point, has been patiently waiting. My niece and her adopted family, they too are waiting. Relatives in Oklahoma, more in Port Angeles and Forks, all waiting. Me, my family, all of us waiting. The Marines. Yes, I have even kept the United States Marines, waiting for my decision on a date to have this memorial. Because we have chosen to have the Marines handle the Memorial, only they can remove him from the funeral home directors care. Someone from the US Marines will go to get his urn and carefully transport him from Colorado to us here in Washington State where he will be given a hero’s buriel at Tahoma National Cemetery.
The wait was because I’ve had two back surgeries this past year, the last one in December, and needed to have some recovery time. Now, the word recuperate no longer has a place in my vocabulary, I’ve set the date, which moves the event a little more forward than what I was thinking, to approximately six weeks away. We will need confirmation from the Marines that this date, April 6, will work. So now it’s my turn to wait for that answer. There is so much to do to prepare for this. I have two beautiful guest rooms and both are piled high with Christmas things waiting to be put away. The living room has piles of things waiting. The computer room, everything is waiting. Crafts, bills, taxes, sewing, the room is full of things, waiting to be handled while I took time to recuperate. Many other projects are in half done stage and need to get finished. Then there is the yard. We won’t even start on that. I need to sell my car. Sad yes, but I won’t be able to drive it. Maybe someday, I’ll have another one, but that’s another story.
I should know in a day or two I would think since this is the United States Marines we are dealing with. I was told that once there was a date there would be no waiting. Now, I must move quickly, no matter how many times my body says no. No matter how tired the walking and the lifting make me. It’s time to get in shape. It’s been nine months since the neck surgery and it’s been two and a half since the low back surgery. I must remind myself often what my goals are and why. It will bring back some much needed good health and strength to my body. I then can attend my brother’s memorial on my own two feet. April 6. That’s not long. I can’t forget about emotional strength. That matters most of all. I must be emotionally strong. I know others will be watching me to make sure I don’t over do but this isn’t for them. This is for me. I need the strength to carry on, I need to know I can do this, that I won’t have an anxiety attack. I won’t fall apart. I will hold up and speak of him with pride and tell how proud I am of him and his achievements. Oh, not the achievements he got in the marines which are great. All the medals he got are wonderful and they need no explanation.
What I see, what I’m talking about aren’t achievements. I guess it is more about his qualities as a person and the things he did for me as we grew up that made him seem so great. He was my brother. MY BIG BROTHER. The one that took me fishing at the creek and showed me how to find and put periwinkles on a fish hook. The brother that “let” me carry his news paper bags and go with him to deliver the papers. The awesome one who waited for me to find all thirteen of my new baby hamsters when they chewed out of their cage one one morning and then walked to school with me because we were late and missed the school bus. He taught me checkers and marbles and go fish. He brushed my hair sometimes when it got tangled, and it got tangled often. Yes, he was my big brother. He is also the one who made sure he got around to going to see my art work when my seventh grade teacher featured me on the main hall bullitin board. We all had to take turns feeding the dog his evening meal which was served to him in the garage. In the winter when the darkness came early, knowing I was afraid to go get the bowl, Jerry would wait at the back door for me. Sometimes, I would cry because it scaired me so to step into that dark garage to retrieve the dog bowl. Jerry would take it back out for me. There were times I struggled with my homework and he would sit with me at the kitchen table explaining it over and over until I got it.
The last time I saw him before his death was in 1998. He came home for Christmas. It had been years and he just showed up one day. He stayed at mom’s for a bit and at my brother Darrell’s home. Then he came to stay at our house. We had a chance to talk a little bit. I found out we shared the love of photography. He would have loved to be a professional photographer. Nature was his ideal medium. He also loved trying to find gemstones in the mountains of Colorado. I found that interesting because I am a jewlery designer and am awed at the beauty of the many gemstones mother nature provides for us. We found that we shared the Amethist as our favorite. We spoke of things but never about us. Not about the growing up years and how the death of our mother affected us. Even then, just as it was when we were young, it was a forbidden subject. I didn’t know how much he remembered or knew nor did he about me. Neither of us brought it up. I’m sad about that. That was the last time I saw him. I tried to find him when Dad died with no result and then again when Mom was ill and it was evident that her time with us was limited. Still I found no clue to his whereabouts.
Time and distance, however, make no difference in the fact that we were family and that I loved him for the brother that he had been to me. As we give him up to God it breaks my heart not to have had more time with him. Time to talk and share feelings that we both kept inside for so many years. I know though that now he can know his mother and re-unite with Dad and mom Ernie. The pain he kept inside all his life will now be gone. He will know peace. He was my big brother and I’m glad he’ll be able to let it all go as he enters the kingdom of God.