Memento Mori

It has been a peculiarly fitting start to the Memorial Day weekend for me. A relative died last week, and it turns out I am his closest living relative. Even though my cousin is the deceased’s heir, and even has a Durable Power of Attorney, the mortuary insisted that I fax an affidavit authorizing them to cremate the remains and release them to her. While I was working on that situation, I got a telephone call from a woman I haven’t talked to in a very long time. A very very long time. We talked a lot about our parents’ deaths, and the deaths of others we had both known, and the impending death of a mutual friend, which had prompted the call. It was totally unexpected. The mortuary’s request was unexpected, but both in the same morning – messages from deep in my past on a weekend that is dedicated to the past and the dead who inhabit it – that’s a flashback in progress.
So I’ve been thinking about the 60’s, and I’ve been thinking about Vietnam. It’s the only war I know of in our history that has turned its veterans against each other. I wish the pro-war and anti-war vets could find some middle ground. Maybe they could meet where the issue is the miserable treatment this administration gives our veterans. But, then again, to judge by the SwiftLiars, maybe not.
It was a dishonest war. It was unjust war. But it was fought by guys I knew, and some of them I cared about. It should be easy to understand that someone who is a good person can nevertheless be a soldier in a bad war. There can never have been wars in which that was not so.
So I am listening to it rain (and the ceiling drip) and thinking about some really nice guys I knew who went off. I thought about one in particular. Then I thought about his family. They came completely apart shortly after he was killed. It all ended very sadly, they are all gone. So I don’t know who else is around to remember, but I hope he knows somehow, that I do. Rest in peace, Freddie, And thank you.

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