Sunday, October 28, 2012
Reflections: 28 October, 2012 I turned 62. “God is Good” as the Irish say
Reflections: 28 October, 2012 I turned 62. “God is Good” as the Irish say
I actually count my birthday as beginning when I was born,
and my deceased mother always said it was about 7:30 pm or so..
So, at 20:14 (8:14) pm...hey I´m 62.
Mostly, despite hard times in my life, and good times I feel
blessed. I know that I have been.
I grew up in "The Brick Jungle." It was a housing project,
or "housing estate" as they say in Ireland; that name sounds a
bit more ´posh.´
"The Brick Jungle" was the name the older kids gave it. It
was a place that my mother (deceased, 1996) once told me
"Don´t tell people where you live."
I was running out of the house to play ball when my mom
I said "Ya?"
And she said "Don´t tell people where you live." It was a
statement, but at 10 years old I was proud that I knew how to
give directions, and told her "I know how to give directions."
But, she said, "I don´t care. Just don´t tell people where you
I said "Okay." and ran out of the house to join the other kids.
When I got to the crowd I said to no one in particular, “You know
what my mom said?”
A few said “What?” I said she told “don’t tell people where
you live.” I told her that I know how to give directions, but she
still told me not to tell anyone where I live.” The older boys burst out
laughing. I said “What?” It was Albie Cail who said “She means ‘the
projects’.” I said “Oh, I know that.”
It was that kind of place to ´outsiders,´ but it was home to me
until I was 14. Two kids died before I was 12, and I eventually fought
the kids involved in their deaths; one was unintentional. The other was
´suspicious.´ That spurred my parents to get out. In 1999 I went back
to my city to see "Albie", (as we called him) Cail to thank him.
Albie might of only been 5´ 6." Yet, he did not let anyone bully
anyone else. So most parents, like mine, who saw him, and his brother,
"Gordie" as tough guys and probably worried about their children were
hanging out with them had no idea that they were the best ones to hang
From growing up their I learned how to defend myself. If I told my
dad that someone beat me up; he said me "What do you expect me to
do? Go back and beat them up yourself, and be careful who you pick
fights with." It was a schock to me.
But, I learnt to always fight on my own terms, or favourable terms.
My father also taught me that inside a bully is a coward. In my
9th year at school, three boys, two of who were in their 12th year; one
was 6´ 9" got and held me so a fella my own age could punch the shit
out of me. As the did it I called them p*ssies because of the way it was
done...even though I was on the ground crying and gasping for air. I
wouldn´t give them any satisfaction.
When I came home and my father saw me; he took me to the
basketball court where they were, and went right up to the big fella 6´ 9"
and said he´d gladly pay the court fines and kick the shit out of all of them,
and teach them a lesson. But the big one first. My dad was 5´10." They
had tears streaming down their faces begging my father not to. I was a
My father showed me and told me that day that there´s a coward inside
a bully, and I never forgot it.
Growing up in the worst housing project in miles and miles, and cities
was a blessing.
I feel I was blessed by Allah in that I had good parents who taught
me good, and I was protected.
I´m 62. Yikes; 62. I don´t look, nor feel it. I quit drinking at 28, and
that was a blessing. I thank the many people who told me I shouldn´t
drink. One in particular was "Brother West" of the Aberjona Post of
the VFW. "Brother West" was a bartender, and whenever I came in
Brother West would say "What are you doing in here?" and that I was
smart and should be going to college and not waisting my time in there
like the others drinking.
That You Brother West wherever you are, and may Allah bless
I remember being in Vietnam and another Marine friend
pointed at a Sgt. ( Sergeant), and said "he´s 30." I said, "Man,
that´s ancient." Well, i´m more than double that now.
This is being written from Lisboa, Portugal, and I feel blessed
and thanked God - Allah, or whatever name you choose.
First, I thanked God for creating me; my soul.God didn´t have
to, and there may have been times when Allah must have thought
"What did I do?" Or, "What was I thinking?" because I´ve survived
many things, and as a Marine Corps ´Grunt´ (rifleman), and Vietnam
veteran I´ve done my share of crazy things. I did things even as a boy.
But, I thank you God for creating me in the first place. Out of the
countless...it´s not zillions, but zillions squared to the highest factor,
and then zillions more..of things that have been created I was one.
That tells me that Allah has a sense of humour. I thank God for the
parents that I had. Though, not perfect, they struggled and did their best
like most parents do. I pray that they, more so my dad will be forgiven
of their sins on the Judgement Day.
My own father was an alcoholic, and a Marine Corps veteran of
World War II who was tormented by his experiences. I was the first-
born and a rebel. He drove those ´Amphibious Tractors´ that brought
Marines from the ships to the beachhead during the island campaigns
of World War II in the Pacific.
If anyone has seen Saving Private Ryan they get the picture. The
ramp door would go down and my father would witness the slaughter
of his human cargo before they got out of the craft. Machine gunned,
mortared or toasted to death by a flamed thrower. He drank.
I was a rebel from the beginning against his emotional, psychological
and physical abuse. A 1 punch TKO when I was 15 or 16. I got up, and
didn´t give him the satisfaction of seeing a single tear. He prepared me
emotionally and psychologically for combat in Vietnam without meaning to.
I have my own terror and grief from Vietnam that I have to live
During a night sapper attack on Fire Support Base (FSB) Cunningham
in the A Shau valley I and my team leader had two Marines come running
towards our bunker in panic screaming that they were being surrounded.
We put knives to their throats and sent them back.
Minutes later we were listeningto them scream in terror and the agony
of their last seconds of life as they were being knifed by a sapper to keep
them in the bunker until his satchel detonated. They were fifty feet away.
One cried aloud ‘Oh God’ just before the explosion. It was awful; beyond
description. the next day I had to clean the bunker of human remains. There
was and is no training for that. It was the worst thing I´ve ever done in my life.
War is criminal. But, I was guided and blessed to come out of it with
all four limbs. Some I took care of in a hospital lost all four.
I was blessed to be with the best Marines I could ever be with. Second
Platoon (Plt.) "Goofy" Golf Co. 2/3, Third Marine Division.
I went twice, and the only reason I´m alive is that I was protected.
And, I had the best team leader. Paul Bowers, a Seminole Indian, who
saved my life. I was ´walking point´ and he stopped me and came up for
a look of the hill and noticed a trip wire flat against my chest. My next
step and I, and others would have been blown to bits.
There was an anti-tank mine on one side of me, and an anti-personnel
mine on the other side.
I had an alcohol problem for my first two and one half years after
discharge, and prayed to God for help. Somehow the compulsion to
drink was lifted from me. I slipped after three years, but quit for good
I went to college in the 1970s and was not expected to long before that.
I did not finish then.
I thank God for the challenges, faliures and successes. I am enriched
I married in December 1980, and had two especially wonderful
children from our marriage. I went back to college and finished my BA
and got a masters in counseling in May 1993.
Our marriage, never smooth ended in separation in 2002, and later
divorce. It´s been three years since I´ve heard from my daughter (and
we were especially close for a long time - I was a home father, and my
ex used to be jealous of the bond between my daughter and me).
It´s been months without meaningful contact with my son.
Everyday I bless and forgive them, and ask Allah to do so as well,
for I love them.
It is the things said by an ex-wife...bitter over the loss of my love.
But, in every thing I thank God for each day. I console myself that there
will be a Judgement Day, and then my children will know the truth.
I had a serious health challenge in December, and am still not 100%,
but a switch to a vegan diet in May made a huge difference. In that I
prayed and prayed.
I am thankful to Allah for the friends, and even enemies, who have
enriched my life, and for the gift to make people laugh.
I have met many, many lovely and sweet women. The first was
my cousin Bernadette. But, beyond family...it was Mimi in Yokosuka,
Japan. She has a special place in my heart.
I am 62, and there were nights in Vietnam when I didn´t know if
I would see the next day. Thank you Allah, and all whom I have known.
There are so many people along the way that to name some would
leave others out. Jim Nance, how are you? And, Hall? I wish you
weren´t so nice to me and tried to show me how to handle a grenade
fuse in the dark.
Paul Bowers, I´ll get that long overdue letter to you this week.
I did his my way...I didn´t let anyone know.changed my birthdate to
December 28, now I can change it back. :-