Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Day - Those gone and their memories

I often think that those who have left us find ways to remind us they are still around. I don't really believe in coincidences so when things tend to repeat and a pattern develops, I try to listen to it. Two such things have happened to me recently.

(1) The first happened this past weekend on the SoCal National Armed Forces FreedomRide. I really wanted to ride on a bike for this event but I didn't have anyone I could really ride with. Instead I worked the event table to help riders get set up, pay their entrance fees, sign their waivers, etc. So this young guy comes up, super polite and asks me about the fees, etc. He fills out his form, pays his fee and walks away. I noticed that he had a passanger so I mentioned to Jennie that I didn't have a waiver for her. Jennie goes over and talks to them, both come up and she signs his form. He's all set. My attention moved to helping others and I didn't think another thing about it. 

Sunny asks me if I've asked someone to ride with them. I tell him no so he tells me to go ask Gator. Now if you know me, you know that I can get really shy when it comes to myself (I can talk to anyone about donating, etc for the troops without hesitation though! LOL) so I'm kind of half walking in that direction when Jennie loops her arm into mine and marches me over to ask for a ride. Thankfully Gator agreed. 

I've gotten my gear on, I start to get on his bike when I look over at the young man from earlier. The hoodie of his jacket is covering the picture on the back of his shirt but I knew immediately who it was. I said, "Oh my God, you have Jason on your shirt!" He looks up and says, "Yes m'am, do you know Jason?" I explained to him how Jason went to school with my sons, all of their friends, how I had gone to Jason's funeral (In fact I have a camo wreath on the back of my front door that says US Marines - Hill on it). I immediately hug him. Fig tells me how he's doing the ride in Jason's honor and how Jason was his brother in arms - they served together and how he couldn't get back for Jason's service. Had Gator not agreed, I'd not have seen that shirt. Turns out we all spend the whole day together, laughing, having a great time and we end the day by holding up Fig's shirt with Jason on it, telling everyone in the VFW about Jason and taking a picture of the group of us. Jason deployed to Afghanistan in April 2011 from Camp Pendleton. Lance Cpl. Jason D. Hill, 20, died Saturday, June 11, 2011, in combat with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. 

(2) The second comes in three parts. On Sunday, as we are coming back from the FreedomRide, Sunny calls Jay McFarling, Jaybird. I just smile to myself because that was my grandfather's CB handle. My grandfather, J.V. Hood, was a Seabee in WWII. He passed away in 2008 and I didn't get to go home for the service. That still pains me. For you to understand how much I loved him, you'd have to know that I was the only granddaughter for 12 years. When I was little, my parents moved across Memphis and I had a fit because I thought I'd never see Granddaddy again. They had to take me back over to prove it wasn't far. LOL! 

So the second part comes when Ken, who I'd met at the FreedomRide, posts that his birthday is June 2nd. I told him that my grandfather's birthday was the 1st,  my father's was the 2nd and mine's the 6th so we often celebrated our bdays together. Once again I find myself smiling at the memories.

The final piece happened last night. I forget what I was doing but my son says something and uses the word Jaybird. I just paused then told him about how that keeps coming up and reminds me so much of Granddaddy.