Sunday, January 29, 2012

Nearing the End

So over the past two years, my buddy Ken and I have had some fun times riding motorcycles, shooting or just sitting around and BSing over coffee. The stories he has about being in the Special Forces in Vietnam are incredible; incredible and sad... just to be clear. Some of the stories he tells me, I can plainly tell that he wishes he couldn't remember those painful images.
He told me about a time where he had to sneak into a village and dispatch the sentry, a teenage boy, with his knife. He talked about holding the boy as he bled to death over about a minute. His detail was amazing, heart-wrenching and sickening in a way. I understand why he had to do that; the boy with the AK-47 was ready to kill the Americans who were in his country and they simply couldn't allow that. Not to get into politics with this is hard, but I will just say it is a sad series of events.
While I try to keep him off the subject of warfare, it is actually hard being that it is one of the things he and I have most in common with. I can see it in his face and eyes when he talks about certain parts of his experience where he goes somewhere else. His eyes glaze over a bit and sometimes get to the brink of tears, but they don't flow out. It is hard to describe, but he goes to another place in time and his actions get more animated while he speaks. This is a man with passion, training and a lot of horror that never left him.
So, a while ago we were supposed to go on a motorcycle ride and he told me that he was having a tough time with the clutch lever so he wanted to move it back. His hands were beginning to curl in like a fist almost; it is the way a soldier will hold his hands at the Position of Attention. He went to the VA to see what was going on; the results came back with sad news.
The doctors at the VA told him he has ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) and that is what had been causing many of the issues he had been having. For me, it made sense why he would systematically jump from subject to subject and routinely repeat himself several times in one sitting.
Due to the illness, that is progressively getting worse, he had to sell his motorcycle, he sold his guns and can not even open a door knob. Yesterday I went over and installed some new handles on the garage for him so he can at least get into his beloved shop for tools. I am more than happy to help him in these ways; I can only hope my sons or perhaps grand kids, would be there to help me when I am old and dying. Ken's son has not spoken to him in years, so for whatever reason that is it means that the help is not coming from him.
Anyway, I was happy to pick up Ken's Glock 22 (yes, another one) and am trying to sell the old 30-30 Winchester for him. He's a good guy who is a real pain in the ass to deal with at times; being stubborn is a trait not well-suited to one who is incapable.

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