For Bike Brown and Chatter Master…
It is when life ends another begins.
One year ago tomorrow.
December 23, 2011.
Old man Jack left us.
To be with his beloved wife Carol…and his comrades who were left behind “on those stinkin’ islands”.
Life is so fleeting. Some people go through a whole lot. Some of us don’t.
Old man Jack was one of the former. I need to find the time to write more of what he experienced as a young man.
So that at least those that read this blog will know…and appreciate.
Old man Jack had his health problems in his last years.
But when he was a young sailor, he had malaria, dysentery…leeches between his toes, all from fighting on those damn islands in the Southwest Pacific during WWII.
And in 2009, he nearly died from a horrid intestinal infection. His abdomen had swollen. Fat Albert would have been jealous.
He was in ICU for a couple of weeks. After they transferred him to an extended care facility, I made it a point to see him every day…even if it was for brief time.
He looked forward to it as did I.
But soon after being transferred, he went into a depression. He wouldn’t eat – especially what he called the “Army slop” they had at his hospice.
Man, he complained about the chow – but his eyes lit up when I (secretly) took him a Mickey D’s burger and fries once in awhile. He’d smack his lips. But I’d make him eat the chow when I didn’t bring him his hamburger and as usual, he’d get pissed. But not really.
One evening, he was really weak. He wouldn’t raise his head off his pillow.
I told him, “Jack… What’s the matter? Haven’t you been eating?”
He never answered the question but he was off in a different world. While he realized I was there, he said to me softly, “Carol came down to see me last night. She sat right here,” gently patting the mattress on his gurney. “She said, ‘Honey, its about time now. I’m waiting for you.'”
Carol was his wife. He loved her greatly. She had passed away eight years before. I think he wanted to be with her.
Well, I pushed him to get better. And he did.
He finally consented to get into a wheel chair a couple of weeks or so later. I can’t exactly remember but it was June of 2009.
Perhaps you can get a flavor of Old Man Jack’s true character although my Blackberry did a lousy job of recording:
Soon after that, in spite of his pissing and moaning (which I loved as it meant he was getting better), I forced him to use his walker:
It was his way of saying, “Get lost,” by the way…but didn’t mean it as usual. He loved the attention.
Old Man Jack was on the road to recovery.
Well, the recovery was short-lived.
He is now with his beloved Carol and eating her wonderful cooking. She cooked things exactly as he wanted.
Hamburger patties burned to a crisp. Scrambled eggs WELL done.
He never complained – as he knew he wouldn’t eat if he did.
Deep down, he knew who was the boss.
I miss you and your hollerin’ and moanin’, Jack.
And I knew you never meant it.
And as sad as I am, I also know you are now free of those horrible nightmares from combat that you endured for 70 years…and that you and Carol are on your second honeymoon.
You deserve no less.
You were a helluva representative of the Greatest Generation.
Merry Christmas, Jack.
Koji, Little Jack and Brooke