March 11, 2012

When The World is as Small as a Rubber Ball

I don't have a FB account. I don't do FB for many reasons, one is that it appears to be so invasive. It feels like inviting a Trojan Horse into one's home. And another is that given what I do for a living, I don't want to be high exposure. And another is there are just flat out people from my past I don't want to hear from again. And I don't want to do the whole 'ignore them' thing. I don't want to deal.

So I don't.

And I have always liked blogging and the community it has created. FB feels like fast food. Blogging feels like a nice long dinner that you savor. FB is instantaneous gratification. Blogging is kinda... not.

However, TGOO has an account that I sometimes log onto to go to my sister's page and see pictures of her babies or to go to my sons' accounts and make sure everything is on the up and up. (For those not in the know, TGOO is my Dad and stands for The Great Omnipotent One. He uses the FB account only to see pix of his grandbabies.)

The day after Lex died, someone had sent me a link to Lex's FB account. (How the man had time to blog and FB, I will never understand.) I clicked on it and saw the familiar pictures that were happy memories for him. On a lark I clicked 'Friends'.

I'm not sure exactly why I clicked. I guess I was looking to see what Bloggers were there, to see if I could find comfort in someone's words. But what I found instead... was someone I knew... here in West Palm Beach. Someone I know from a women's organization I'm with. Someone I hope my eldest will be doing an Eagle's Scout project for... at a Not for Profit at which she works.

I sat back in my chair and thought, "What the heck?"

I called one of our mutual friends and said, "Is she affiliated with the Navy in some way?" to which the reply was, "Oh yeah, she's AWESOME. She's in the Navy League with me and she's a real go getter and hard worker. Her husband was a Navy Captain before he died. I think submarines..."

I was all on board until that submarine comment and then I was thrown...

And I realized I had to say something. But what was my approach to be? And worse yet... we were attending this big event together, a fundraiser I help with... and what if she didn't know?! I surely couldn't ruin her day. I decided I'd try to pick up on if she knew and if she did not, I'd not say a word until the end of the day when I'd gently tell her to go to his blog.

So today I took a deep breath and went to her table to talk to her about the Project my son wants to work on for her and to ask her, "So.... I saw on FB you know Carroll LeFon. How do you know him?"

And the tone of her answer indicated to me that she knew. She told me that her husband was a pilot and that he'd been Lex's CO in Japan.

I know that I kept up my end of the conversation, but I swear there was a momentary pause on my part where I did a *blink*. Because in my mind? It was racing with "Holy crap... what is the frickin' probability of this?"

And I realized... I KNEW who her husband was. I'd read about him. And she confirmed that Lex in fact had done a post on him. BBSOB. I remembered that post so well... it was the post that he lamented he'd never have the skills of his CO, who had come up from enlisted, who knew their dreams, and could speak to them without being patronizing.

I remembered it. She confirmed it.

I went back to my seat trying to figure out, "Why? Why did that post hit me so much that I could remember so much of it? That I remembered her husband's career?"

When I got home, I immediately googled the post, trying to put the pieces together.

And then it occured to me... the big picture. The big huge damn picture.

Every morning I read the obits. I know, it's morbid to some, and I don't remember when I started doing it, but I do it. I'm always kind of fascinated by the things people did in their lives. I do a quick skim and only truly read those that catch my eye, but one morning in November one particular obit did.

Military obits... I always read them. They deserve to be read. Someone took the time to tell us about their loved one's service, then I'm going to take the time to read it. This one particular obit was of someone much too young.

As I read through it, it said, 'Retired Navy Captain', "F/A-18 pilot", and it named some ships. "Hunh," I thought, "I wonder if Lex knew this man..."

So I took the link and shot it over to Lex with the gentleman's name, and I got a reply back that told me that not only did he know him, but he'd posted about him a few days before.

I jumped over to his blog, and there was an entire post on the great leadership of Turk Green. Somehow I had missed that entire day's group of posts and I know that because... I actually commented on the post.

So I'm finding it very odd, that I accidentally notified him of a death of someone he had a profound respect for, a man I had no clue who he was, just a fascinating obit, only to find out that I know the wife... and I didn't realize except for Lex's passing.

And I think I needed to see her and know who she was because she was married to a great man and I know that his death absolutely devastated her, yet here she is, pushing forward. She's OK. She gave me hope that Lex's wife will be too.

And my comment over there seems so eery now. "I hope his family gets a chance to see this entry… his children need to know what you think, a perspective of their father they never did see because he was their father, not their coworker or boss. Children can never hear enough how wonderful their parent was… never. I think its healing." It is what I hope for Lex's children... that they read all the tributes and understand what a great Man he was... from an adult perspective.

The world can seem so large and scary sometimes. Other times, it feels as small as a rubber ball...

Posted by Boudicca at March 11, 2012 12:04 AM

I got married after I left active duty in the Navy. I was an airdale, and saw what those deployments and long hours and mission scheduling did to relationships. A great many just can't handle it.

Thing is, my wife just could never understand the love I had for my fellow airdales, my shipmates. She couldn't understand how I could get a phone call late at night from someone I hadn't spoken to in years, yet get dressed and go out to comfort him, or help him out, bail him from jail, whatever.

Long ago, in the faraway, we stood the watch together. We flew together. We had eachother's back, and knew that when something happened, we could depend on eachother to be there. That kind of love is hard to fathom for someone who hasn't experienced what we did.

When that "Dear John" letter showed up, or something happened back home, or the stresses got a bit much, there was always a brother to lean on, someone to listen. It was as strong as blood ties, and it will stand the test of time.

I keep going, writing what I write, and doing what I do, because those who we lost along the way would have wanted it. We owe them our today, because they sacrificed their tomorrow. As long as I and others remember them, they are alive.

Military service changes you, in ways you won't understand at first. Only later, as you go along, do you realize the bonds of those shared experiences, the real love of one brother for another.

God Bless those gone before, and know that we greybeards still keep the watch.

Posted by: AW1 Tim at March 11, 2012 02:22 AM

Well stated, Tim. Only those who have been there know.

Posted by: Angus of Morvern at March 11, 2012 10:02 AM

It is a very small world indeed! I'm so glad you found her and that she continues to live life instead of sinking into despair. A lesson for us all.

Posted by: Teresa at March 11, 2012 12:19 PM

Tim: Your comment is one of the reasons I loved reading Lex's blog and his commenters so much. I was never in the military, but have always been interested in it, and that blog was my window into a world that doesn't get much mainstream exposure. THANKS

Posted by: George P at March 11, 2012 10:10 PM

Amazing connection!

Posted by: -flatlander- at March 11, 2012 10:52 PM

FB is good for family or finding classmates for a reunion. That is all I have and we were organizing our 40th HS reunion for last year. The only oddity is that my BIL is running for office and I get to see his commentary. Otherwise it is pretty quiet.

That is all ... no work people ... no one from blogs.

The anonymity works.

Then there is "Joe" (or his namesake) who appears to be directing a play in Ft Walton Beach, or heading to the Dominican Republic, or something. Its hard to keep up with that man.

Posted by: The Thomas at March 12, 2012 11:47 PM