One of the few benefits I enjoy about being an over the road truck driver is once a while I get to visit with old friends that I would not be able to see otherwise. That was the case this week. Thanks to Facebook, I still have some contact with a few of my friends from when I was in the Marine Corps. In this case, it wasn’t my old friend who contacted me, instead it was one of his daughters. That was a few years ago, but we finally met up with each other last Saturday.
Mike and I met while in infantry training school at Camp Pendleton in the beginning of 1985. After training, there were only a few of us who went to the same unit together and eventually overseas. There’s really only two of those I left ITS with that I still have contact with today. After coming back from overseas, I changed companies and headed overseas again. So I didn’t see much of either one of them from 1986 on.
Out of all the people I have known in the Marines, Mike and I have been married the longest. Mike had four children (all girls), and I had two (one of each), all of which are now grown with several having children of their own. Mike and I haven’t seen each other since we were both younger than any of our children are now. It was a weird feeling.
I have visited old friends before, but this was very different. Usually, there is only time for a couple cups of coffee while the two of us talk about old memories and significant events that have taken place since. But this time, it was more like a party. Mike’s daughters along with husbands and children all came over to see their dad’s old friend. One traveled over 50 miles to be there, and I’m glad she did. She was a hoot. She reminded me of Fat Amy from the Pitch Perfect movies; super funny and super talented. She was the youngest and the only one not married, but I’m sure that won’t last long.
Now for somebody who has to make a living away from his own family, this couple of hours was very special to me. We may not have seen each other in decades, but somehow I felt like I fit right in with the family, and oh how I have missed that.
Both my parents had large families, and some of my favorite memories were when everyone would get together for the Holidays or some other event. We’d all sit around the table laugh, cut up, and even bicker together. That’s family, and there is nothing else quite the same. Each is a little different, but there’s enough similarities to know the same blood is in each one.
It’s always seemed so sad to me when that special element just kind of disappears. People get older, some will divorce and remarry, some will move away, some die, and some fight until they can’t stand each other anymore. Either way, the family just kind of dissolves and something beautiful sort of disappears unless it reforms in different ways and starts over.
For somebody whose been feeling a bit alienated, lonely, and homesick, this was special to watch. It’s been tough for me. In 2013 I left my home town and my aging mother to pursue a career dream (once again) that has never really worked out for me. Now, not only am I prevented from being with my mother during this phase in her life, but I’m right back to doing the very work I tried to get away from.
My wife and I seem to be drifting apart. I don’t see her much any more. When I’m home from the road, she has been gone to visit her mother who is very sick. We don’t share many of the same interests and we have opposing views on some issues we are both passionate about. I’m losing her.
Technically, I live in the same town as my children, but I’m gone most of the time, and when I’m not they either have to work or have other plans. I’m alone all the time it seems. I walk alone, I eat alone, I watch movies alone. I wonder if God is punishing me for not taking care of my mother. She’s alone too, and I don’t know what to do about it.
I wasn’t meaning for this to be my own pitty party. I really just wanted to say how special it was to visit not just an old friend, but to experience family even while on the road.