I've just come from KG's dad's funeral and wake, which for the most part, was incredibly sad. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that it was also incredibly interesting. KG's dad was a Marine, serving in Vietnam and earning two Purple Hearts and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry in Bronze. While I've known KG and thus, her family for nearly 20 years, her father didn't often bring up his service and the story as to how he was, as described in letters from the Marine Corps to his family, valliant and brave. It turns out, KG's dad held off the enemy with a rocket launcher and two machine guns while 22 injured members of his unit were pulled to safety. He was shot three times in Vietnam, taking two bullets amidst the madness of this rescue, which incidentally took place when he was 21 years old.
Needless to say, the Marines take this stuff very, very seriously and that history, with the pomp and circumstance it brings, was on display at today's funeral. I found the whole thing very moving.
Say what you want about wars and why we fight them, it's impossible not to hold those that serve in the military in extraordinarily high regard. KG's dad was laid to rest with Marines standing outside the church firing guns into the air, his casket guarded by full dress uniform soldiers who occasionally and on cue, saluted him. Very formally, they folded the American flag draping the casket, presented it to KG's mom and saluted her.
It. Was. Impressive...to say the least.
More so, one pew of the church was filled with men wearing shiny purple jackets, all veterans who themselves had earned purple hearts in various wars. They too saluted the casket as it exited the church, followed by KG and her family who, I can only imagine, must have been somehow consoled with overwhelming pride.
KG spoke beautifully of her father, detailing his service and essentially, his parenting. While this death has certainly hit the family as a huge shock, KG pulled it together and quite frankly, blew me away. She ended by inviting everyone back to the house for a celebration of her father's life. I was told to bring cookies.
The house was packed and eventually, me and my Diet Coke stood by the front door chatting with fellow KG friends, N and S. My demeanor at times like this, whether appropriate or not, has always been to perform an early-90's stand-up routine. I wish I could shut myself up, but the one thing I bring to the table is an ability to make KG laugh.
Anyway, we were standing by the front door when this massive man in a cowboy hat, bandanna and the requisite boots makes his way to the door to leave.
"Wasn't this beautiful, honey?!?" He said as he grabbed me and planted a kiss on the entirety of my face. With that, he walked out the door and outta my life.
"Who was that?"
"Beats me, but dibs."
No sooner had he left than a confused looking middle aged woman walked in from the rain. We looked at her. She looked at us. And then, gazing up at me, declared the apparent entry codewords, "I know John."
"Uh, okay. Well, come on in!"
She pushed past us and muttered, "You gave me a weird look."
And before I could help myself, I responded, "I was born this way."
She spun around. "No you weren't!"
Finally, KG's sweet cousin came over who's young and irreverent and gorgeous. "What's up,ladies?" She asked, taking a sip of her Corona.
"A man pretty much made out with me and I got in a fight with the redhead over there."
Unfazed by the fight, she asked, "Which man?"
"The one in the cowboy hat?"
"Which cowboy hat?"
"The black one." I responded, noting that indeed, there was more than one cowboy in attendance.
"Oh, Dan! He's awesome. He opened my beer with his pocket knife."
Like I said, dibs.
Anyway, while today's events were all based upon very sad circumstances and rough times for my dear friend, I have to admit the whole thing was pretty interesting. From the 21 gun salute to the fight with some broad later referred to as "The Pirate" I'm exhausted. And I am also, if possible, even more proud and honored to be friends with KG and her incredible family. They're funny, they're warm and they make one hell of a deviled egg...