I've never really left, dropping a few comments here and there, from time to time. But I'm at that stage of my life ( I hit 60 next month ) where one starts thinking about one's impact upon the universe.
I don't want this to go on about me, as there is someone else who precipitated what I'm writing here, as you shall soon see. But I imagine that you would want at least something about the former. It's sufficient to say that this year has not been good so far for me. Last year I was demoted from full-time to part-time teacher for reasons I won't go into here, but I was OK with that since I was qualified to retire from my work for the state. State pension + part-time pay was good enough for what I needed. I got another part-time minimum-wage job outside education to accelerate house payments, and life seemed to be back on track.
This past February my principal informed me that due to budget cuts I would not be asked to come back this fall. March I get T-boned and lost our car, but not life or limb. May, I'm threatened with termination from my second job and I'll be damned if I get fired from anything the first time ever, so I quit. And to top it off ( I hope! ), our computer gets zapped by lightning. A tip: even if it's soft, distant thunder, yes, it is very possible to get zapped.
So here I am, looking out at a "doughnut hole" of 2 years before Social Security kicks in, getting by on less than 20K per year, and no health insurance unless we give up all, drain our savings, and live in our car. Luckily, we're both fairly healthy, although the wife hasn't been able to work for years.
Furthermore, my Outrage Account is very much in the red for a whole lot of reasons. We're not moving and I'll be looking for work. Many school districts in the area are looking for janitors, so maybe I won't have to leave education after all!
All this leads to Joe Meadors. He's another old fellow who apparently does not know how to quit, roll over, shrivel up and die. I had planned to write on another completely different topic, maybe later, but recent news intervened, and so did a veteran from our military, Joe Meadors. And it is Memorial Day. OK, a day late.
Coming up June 8 is the 43rd anniversary of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, Joe's ship. He survived that. He was with the Gaza flotilla that was confronted by the Israeli navy a couple of days ago, and as of this writing, he's confined in an Israeli jail. He's got to be in the same general age range I am in, so why did he do it? A chance to give the folk who killed his shipmates a poke in the eye? True concern for a truly suffering community of people? I don't know about any of that. But what we all know is that he's a veteran of our country's military doing something to help others anyway he can. Trying to fathom why would just be guesswork right now.
I do know that killing and wounding and dying and suffering in war are truly perverse. It is not what our capabilities and intelligence call us to do. However, I'm sure we've been doing that ever since whatever creature that could be called human first arose from our far dim past. There's no end to such conflicts in sight and that's a terrible pity. Indeed, Memorial Day does recall the horrific scenes of war and great stupidity, but it also recalls sacrifice, love and compassion, even for the enemy.
We all need friends to encourage us, we need examples to inspire us and to show us how. We've had many over the course of human history and veterans like Joe and so many others like him, veteran and non-veteran, past and present, will always be there for us to see. For these things on Memorial Day 2010, I'm extremely grateful.
Update for the Update: A couple of clicks from here and look what I stumbled upon. A heartwarmer to start your June.