My Favorite Veteran
It goes without saying that my son would be my favorite, but he isn't the only one I salute, honor, thank and respect. He is just one of the ones I personally love. There are others. My brothers-in-law, John Bowen, John Heroux and David Heroux; my daughter's fiance Scott McCord, my nephews Jeff Colon and Bob Thibeault and more friends than I could possibly remember. I am going to talk about a couple of those friends here because I think more people should know more about who they really are. That is, from my prospective, at least.
We all have had friends in our lives that just can't be replaced. I mean, they are the kind of people you always want to be around. When they aren't there you find yourself talking about them. Sharing stories about the good times you've had with them or re-telling stories they themselves have told. You know what I mean, a person you just can't imagine not having, in some capacity, in your life. I had such a friend. I believe 90% of the population of Durand, had such a friend. He passed in June of 2009. He suffered the last months of his life with cancer most likely caused by agent orange he had contact with in Viet Nam. He was a proud Veteran and a truly good man. His sense of humor was legendary. There was humor in most everything to him and if you didn't see it, he'd be happy to point it out to you. He made me laugh every time I talked with him. He was the neighbor who was always there for us. He loved his wife, never any question about that. His son and his son's family were the center of his universe; again, no question. As devoted as he was to them, he had a gigantic circle of friends. Not acquaintances, mind you, friends. People who cared about him and people for whom he genuinely cared. Gary Brewer was a man among men. That saying has always meant something special to me because more than anything I respect men who are men first.
The last few months of his life were very difficult for everyone who loved him and he did his best not to be a problem or worry. But cancer doesn't let that happen. We all worried and we all tried to help. I cooked for him. His beautiful wife told me he would eat whatever I took over for him, so I cooked so he would eat. I enjoyed thinking I was helping and he always thanked me. Every day someone was at their house visiting him, if he was home. At the hospital, someone was always there with his wife, Dolly, Mary to me, but that's a blog for another day. (The family of Mary's!)
The day Gary died the world changed for a lot of people and his funeral was attended by more people than I have ever seen at any funeral. He was a loved, respected and finally an honored man. May he forever rest in peace and enjoy his heavenly reward. I miss him.
Another Gary that I love and have known for 20 some years has been in and out of my actual life since we first met. I was his wife's hairdresser and I adored her, btw. I met him when he accompanied her in for her cut and style and decided to let me have a shot at his crazy hair. It is crazy hair, but if handled with care, it is really beautiful. Yep, a lot of men have beautiful hair and just need a good cut and a couple of minutes to learn how to comb it after that cut! I digress, again. Gary knew his hair and directed me perfectly as to how I needed to proceed to make it work for him. I continued to be his hairdresser until I took a leave to try my hand at education and sales in the Nexxus Product Company distribution center for Michigan. I loved that job, but the year away meant a lot of my old clients had moved on. Gary and Becky were among those who moved on.
We would see each other often around town, though, and always took a couple of minutes to catch up. Wendy, his daughter was always a favorite client of mine, as well. I often saw either Gary or Becky with Wendy at the local feeding trough as none of us was doing much home cooking at that time.
Gary Smith is the kind of man who will always come if you have a need he can fix. He will always support you if you are in need of support. He will always have a kind word because he is a kind man. If you were his friend, you are always his friend. He served in the Navy and is a shining example of what a Veteran should be. He is a patriot, a man of honor, a man of God, a man of truth. Gary is my friend now and forever.
I did not learn of Becky's passing until quite some time after. We were out of state when she died and no one mentioned it to me until I mentioned that I had seen Gary and Wendy at the restaurant and I thought he didn't look well. I was inquiring about his health to a mutual friend. I don't even remember who it was, but that friend told me of Becky's death. I had spoken to Wendy and Gary at the restaurant, but only briefly and neither of them mentioned her. I thought nothing of that, it was just a quick exchange. I felt horrible finding out about their loss and I had acted as if nothing had changed. It was awful. The next time I saw him, I told him as much and then expressed my sorrow for his loss and my own, as well. Being the kind and loving man he is, he said, "I thought you didn't know." No guilt, no judgment. Gary doesn't judge me. Thank goodness.
So, I have many friends who are Veterans and many of them deserve an entire article about them alone, but for today here are two of my choices. Two Gary's who have added so much quality to my life that I wanted to share them with all of you.
Thank you Gary Smith and thank you Gary Brewer for just being in my life.