Just have to put down a few thoughts tonight. We just came home from a long-time family friend's funeral, Larry Myers. Larry was more than just a friend, he was our grandson's father.
Larry was a building contractor. We hired him about 20 years ago to put a roof over a house trailer that we had on our property. We owned a small fishing resort at the time and the house trailer was for my parents to stay in when they came up from Florida for a visit.
Larry was a handsome young man of about 30, and I liked him right away. He had a flare about him. Maybe it was his cowboy boots or the fact that he also owned horses, did horse-shoeing on the side and road bulls in the rodeo on the week-ends. But we hit it off really well.
He also took a shine to our daughter, Becky, and the two of them began to date. What I didn't know was that he also liked to drink. In the fall of 1991, Larry and my daughter took us out to dinner and announced that they wanted to get married. That was fine with us as long as he would treat her right, and he promised that he would. Then they announced that she was pregnant. Well, what was there to say to that? We had just said that they could get married!
But the wedding never happened. Becky moved in with him while they were making the wedding arrangements and quickly learned that she could not live with Larry. He would get drunk almost every night and that was just not something she could or would endure. So, she came back home.
Larry was still in our lives, though, and in our grandson's life. Though Becky couldn't live with him, there were still feelings there, as there were with us. We hired him to do several other construction jobs for us in the following years, all of which he did with meticulous care.
And as time passed and our friendship grew, Larry began to reveal the causes of his problems to us - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At least, that is what they call it now, now that it is so prevalent among our soldiers today. When Larry got out of the service there was no mention of such a thing. Larry had been stationed on the DMZ in Korea at age 17, and what he saw and experienced there left him with flashbacks and survivor's guilt. He drank and took risks with his live time after time after getting out of the service to try to stop the horrors that haunted him.
Last Wednesday night, Larry's quest for peace succeeded. He died; his body, broken and unable to handle any more alcohol, gave up. The passed few years had become even harder for Larry. He had a motorcycle accident that left him with brain damage and sever pain in his back. Though he continued to work, the back pain got worse and worse. The head injuries seemed to causes more flashbacks that usual. Many trips to the Veteran's Hospital now offered him psychological counseling as well as treatment for his back. But after many months of that, the medications that they gave him left him with blood pressure problems and a chemical imbalance that caused a stroke-like condition. Unable to work, he lost his truck, had to sell his horses and got behind on his child support payments. He started paperwork to get disability from the government, and Becky agreed to wait until that came through for her child support money.
Then, last spring, Larry's mom died. Next, the bank re-possessed his property and house, and he had to move out in November. And in December, the court saw fit to arrest Larry for non-payment of his child support, despite Becky's pleas otherwise. We bailed him out, and, honorable man that he was, he saw that we got our money back. Is it any wonder that he decided to go get drunk last week?
The military was at the funeral. They gave him a 21-gun salute. It seemed to me to be way too little for all the years of emotional pain that he had suffered because of his military service.
What would this kind, gentle, skilled man's life have been like if he had not served in the Army? What would our daughter's life been like? What joys would he have known without his soul racked with pain?
Rest in peace, my friend. You'll be greatly missed.