Sunday, September 27, 2009

Don't Wait

Who helped create the you that you are? What are some of your earliest memories of that special person?

There is something about a military uniform that holds your memory be it the smell, the texture, the bright gold buttons. He held me like a precious package. I remember it as if it were yesterday sitting on his lap at the Jefferson Memorial, cheering at his baseball games, following him around enough that I'm sure I smelled like his smelly cigars.

Gene taught me to drive a tractor when I was probably no more than 5. I sat like a queen on her throne atop my grandpop's old grey, Ford tractor. "Sit there and look straight ahead. Don't turn the wheel. Sit there and hold it steady." Well, I couln't do much else since the pedals were quite a distance away from the tips of my bare toes. Plus, I was too terrified to move. So, I drove the tractor that pulled the tobacco planter. Slow as a snail we crossed the field planting row after row. At the end of the row, he would jump off the planter, hop up behind me and turn the tractor. Years later I graduated from driver to planter. He taught me to pull the plants from their sterile beds then planting them seated on the planter. When reaching my teens, again his pupil, I learned to spear tobacco later stripping it for shipping.

In my adult years, he became my friend.  He shared family stories. Oh how I loved him, appreciated him. Gene was always there for me and my family. I was never alone with Gene in my life.

He wrote to a little girl when he was in the Philippines. In turn, she wrote in scribbles and crayon. He teased her and harassed her in the tobacco field, and she dished back the same. He cared for the entire family because he could.

Gene was my cousin, my brother, my friend. He died last year. All of my life I was precious to him. If only I could tell him once more, "Gene, you are precious to me."

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