Welcome Home, Hero. Rest in Peace.

This was not the first military funeral I had attended.  It was the first time I’d been to any funeral that took place 76 years after the deceased had died.  This young man, a kid the same age as my third of five children, has finally made it home to be put to rest with his family in a hero’s ceremony.  Seaman First Class George Anderson Coke, Jr. came home to Arlington today for the first time since he left for boot camp back in 1941.

My friend, Leslie Dorn Barton, is George Coke’s second cousin once or twice removed.  I’m still unclear on all that genealogy stuff.  While I’d like to be able to trace back my family tree, I’m quite unorganized and tend to think circularly rather than in clear straight lines.  Besides, I’ve got aunts and cousins on both sides of my tree who really dig that sort of thing and they actually journal it all. Anyway, Leslie is one of the Special Education teachers who taught my daughter at Sam Houston High School. We became friends over the last couple of years. So naturally, when she mentioned that this funeral was happening today, I told her I’d come.

It’s been hotter than ever all week and I was so relieved when the thunderstorms hit our city last night and it rained until the wee hours this morning.  I donned my black abaya and a gray and black scarf and then headed over to the First United Methodist Church and tried to “blend in” with the Arlington locals.  I know.  I didn’t. The sole Muslim in a sea of mostly older, white, Christian faces.

I listened to the history of George Coke, Jr., son of George Coke, Sr., who was the Chief of Police in Arlington back in the 1920s.  I learned that of the 3,500 American casualties that day in Pearl Harbor, that Arlington lost 48 souls.  My mind wandered, as is the norm during funerals.  Everyone in some way or another is reminded of their own immortality at a funeral.  With military funerals, you are also reminded of all of your family members and friends who also served in the armed forces.  I felt a few tears escape today as I remembered friends who were killed in foreign wars.  I felt a few more tears escape as I offered prayers of thanks and gratitude for those family and friends who returned safely home.

I followed the funeral procession to Parkdale Cemetary. We were escorted by members of the United States Navy and a large number of the Arlington Police Department.  I watched as the sailors, now pallbearers, respectfully carried the remains of their comrade who fell in the line of duty more than half a century before any of them were born.  And the firing of the three volleys, though I knew they were coming, still caught me off guard and those tears of relief that most of my loved ones returned to me fell from my eyes as a silent salute to Seaman Coke and all of the thousands who didn’t.

My heart stirred as I watched the slow and deliberate movements of the sailors folding the flag and the hand off of that folded flag followed by the final salute from Seaman to Non-Commissioned Officer to Officer to Rear Admiral and finally to George Coke, Jr.’s family members.  The spent shell casings from the three volleys, symbolizing duty, honor, and country, were then placed into the hand of the young descendant of Seaman Coke.

A cool breeze gently blew across my face, air-drying the silent tears and leaving my cheeks a little bit sticky.  I hugged Leslie and shook hands with her son, aunt, and mother.  I looked back to see the final resting place of Seaman Coke, under the Live Oak and the Crepe Myrtle trees, beside his mother and father.  Welcome home, hero.  Rest in peace.

 

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Did I Do Too Much for Them?

As mothers, we second guess ourselves and the choices we make all of the time. Since these children don’t come with owner’s manuals or anything remotely close to that, we sort of “wing it” and combine our gut instincts with the way that we were brought up and what we admired from parental examples we admired from TV and movies, and that long list of stuff we swore we’d “NEVER do when I have kids of my own!” And for the most part, that tends to work really well for most of us. We do the best with what we have and what we know and we try to do what is best for our kids and hope and pray that that is enough.

I used the great ways that my mom had to interact with us when we were little. She was awesome at distraction tactics when we would fight. There were four of us and sometimes it would get pretty loud. I remember many times that she would just come in the room while we were fighting and just sit down on the floor. She’d pull all of our building blocks and Matchbox cars, Fisher-Price people and Weebles out of the box and start making entire towns right there in the middle of the rug. She’d completely ignore us while doing this. Soon we were sort of staring at all the fun she was having and no longer interested in who broke what, or whose turn it was to whatever. We’d watch and eventually sit down and ask if we could play with her. She always said, “Yes.” And we’d join in and start having fun, too. Then she’d slowly work her way out of the game and leave the room and we were none the wiser, yet peaceful.

I also decided that I liked the way that she kept open lines of communication with us. I employed this, too, with my own kids. But I allowed more expression (like limited cussing when they were at that stage where nothing else would seemingly help them “get it out.”) I never lied to them.  (Okay, I did have them convinced for years that I knew the Minister of Birthdays and Aging and that if they did something really horrible that I could call and have that year’s birthday postponed for another. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds when your kids are younger and are certain that they haven’t earned that year older until they’ve actually blown out their candles on their cake. Truth be told, I did NOT tell them the whole candles thing. That was their own understanding. I just didn’t contradict it until the oldest was about 12 and had figured it out on his own. DON’T JUDGE!)

I would watch some of my in-laws and neighbors and friends who would tell their kids things like, “stop crying and I’ll buy you sweets” or “don’t be scared. The needle won’t hurt at all.” To adults, these seem like little lies to assuage fears and calm kids. But for kids, they are actually HUGE lies that, once told and are proven to be untrue, take away from our credibility and teach our kids not to trust us. I never told my kids untruths about our ability or inability to afford something that they wanted. I would tell them, “No. That is something that is not in our budget” if they were asking for their own mobile phone or wanting to go to the amusement park or join a sports club.

I did not/will not give my kids an allowance. I hated this rule growing up but my dad had it and I’m actually quite grateful for it now. He always said, “I buy you every-damn-thing you need. If there is something you want, come talk to me about it and we’ll decide if it’s something we can do.” So when I wanted a Mickey Mouse watch at 5 years old like my neighbor had, Dad said no. He said it was ridiculous that Michael Murphy had a watch at 5 when the “big dummy can’t tell time.” (I was born in the late 60’s and digital watches were still about 10+ years away.) So, of course, I was heartbroken. But Dad told me that if I learned how to tell time that he would buy me a watch. I accepted his challenge. I learned how to tell time in one week. (And oh, yes, I rubbed that in Michael Murphy’s face big time.) And Dad bought me my first watch at the PX  (Post Exchange for you non-military types.) It was dark blue Timex with silver numbers and hands and had a dark blue band. It was a ladies watch…for grown ups. It was so fancy. He taught me how to wind it and take care not to get it wet. I had that watch for 11 years before it finally broke. I’d earned the right to wear it. And Dad promised it and fulfilled that promise. Trust was built over something little.

When my kids wanted pocket money, I made them work for it. They always had to help around the house and I didn’t pay for that. But if they wanted something extra, I made them work a little extra. My sister-in-law thought I was mean and horrible for making Ismail make all of the beds in the house (a total of 5) after their naps one day and I only paid him 25 piasters. She thought that that was a lot of work for a 6 yr old and that he deserved more than just 5 piasters per bed. I asked what she thought was fair wages. She said 1 pound. I told her she was nuts. I explained that her own sister worked 12 hour days, 6 days a week in a factory making purses and backpacks and she only brought home 250 pounds per month. That averages out to about 1.15 pounds per hour. “He needs to learn that life in Egypt is hard and that people work hard for very little money. Then he will appreciate what he has and will take care of it and learn to work hard himself.” That was ten or twelve years ago. Now she tells me that she wishes that she had done like I did as her kids think that it’s their right to demand large amounts of money to go shopping, buy fast food and go to the movies whenever they like.

I instilled a good work ethic in them. BUT there are other things that I didn’t do right. I still haven’t let them do the other stuff. I handled their confrontations, argued with store owners who wronged them, all the typical advocating for my kids. But they didn’t learn how to do those things on their own. None of them knows how to fill out a job application on their own, their own medical history, how to drive. And I’m not preventing them from doing any of that or still doing it all for them. They’ve sort of just fallen into the habit of asking me to do it and I do it. I fear that I’ve not encouraged them enough to try stuff on their own. I’m afraid to push them out of the nest to test their wings. I know that failure is part of learning and that I have to be a good enough parent to allow them to fail. But it sucks when your job all these years has been to catch them when they fall.

My best friend and I cried together over this earlier this week. She and I have a mess of kids and our oldest are about the same age. She told me that her daughter called from her university on the other side of the state wanting her to put on her “momager” hat and call the school and handle some situation for her. My friend started to do that but then caught herself.

We women are able to have entire lengthy arguments and weigh outcomes of choices all in our minds in split seconds. Men don’t realize this, I think. But we are able to go through every option available, predict results and decide the best course of action to take all within about 3 eye blinks. We’re bionic like that.

So my friend told her daughter, “You know what? This is something you can handle. You need to call and tell them that you don’t want to change dorms again and give your reasons why. I believe in you. You can do this.” Her daughter was pouty but accepted my friend’s advice. Of course, she cried her eyes out after hanging up because she felt she was a “bad mom” for telling her NO. But this is how we have to do it. And it’s hard. And it sucks. But it’s the being there to pick up the pieces if they fall and break during their test flights outside our nests that make us good moms. And while both of us know this intellectually, it doesn’t make it any less heavy on our hearts when our kids want us to do something and we force them to do it themselves.

Have I done too much? Maybe. But we do what we can the best way we know how and trust that we’ve done it right. Excuse me. I’m going to go cry now.

 

 

 

Our Summer Vacation to Athens

So, this week has been a major ass-kicker for me…mostly in a good way. Sunday we took advantage of the fact that my son and daughter both quit their summer jobs and that my husband finally replaced the compressor in the van giving us air-conditioning. YAY. So we finally got on the road about 2 pm and headed off to Athens. (That’s Athens, Texas, y’all.)
Of course, due to the late start and having to deal with a major autistic meltdown with a pit stop at Dairy Queen to calm nerves all around, we managed to get to this po-dunk town after everything that we wanted to see had closed. So we headed back to the main drag and pulled into the East Texas Arboretum and did a little hiking in 104 degree heat. It was an impressive patch of woods with lots of lovely gardens and fountains and a one-room school house and a bat house. We spent a whopping hour there before piling back into the van and driving home. I think the highlights for me were the photos of my kids and husband playing “slow-mo Ninja” in the gazebo and the fact that I didn’t have to cook. (We bought pizza that night.) My husband was excited about the fact that I had enough fuel points to only have to pay 86 cents per gallon when we filled up the van.

We’ve traveled quite a bit all over the US, Europe, Middle East and North Africa. But since moving to the US and making our home in Texas, we’ve decided to spend some time seeing all of the major European cities within Texas state lines. We have now gone to Paris, Dublin, and Athens. Not bad for day trips, huh?

Fam in Athens

Bad-Assery in the Metro

“Thanks for going shopping with me, Randa.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Got your seat belt on?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Should we take the highway home or the slow way?”

“It’s drive faster.”

“Okay. Highway it is. Should we listen to the radio?”

“Yes.”

**Turn on radio and Nickelback is playing.**

“Mommy, this sucks.”

**Change to a rock station playing Aerosmith** “Better?”

“Yes, ma’am. Mommy drive faster.”

Re-post: How Do YOU Spell Relief?

Due to my busy schedule of oversleeping and not getting my kids
to school on time and then fighting them to study along with my 
writing schedule for my new novel, I’ve kind of blown off my blog.
And that’s just not cool. SO, I thought I’d re-post some of my “best
of” posts from a previous blog just to keep you entertained while I
settle into my new ridiculous schedule.  Here’s something that some
of you (probably very few of you) didn’t know about me: I fart.


And what’s with this green
font, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m quite gassy….and I am feeling a 
little on the green side.
Yeah, ewwww gross! Well, there’s no reason to pretend here. I come
from a long line of farters. I’ll omit their names to protect the (not-so)
innocent. BUT I inherited the fart-gene, baby….from BOTH sides of 
the family. Now I’ve not yet inherited the gaseous genetic trait where
I race to the bathroom with lower cheeks pinched tightly leaving a “pop-
pop-pop-pop” sound trail behind me. (Our family has actually named
this trait after one of the family elders, however, since I’m attempting to
protect the family fart tree, I guess I’ll have to omit that too.)
Anyway, we’ve got ’em all in our family: the loud, the louder, the machine
gun, the “oh, hell, who stepped on the dog”, the not-so smelly, the smelly,
the s.b.d. and the “WHAT crawled up your ass and died”. ANY type of 
fart ever known to man can be claimed by anyone (or several) in my family.
My brother recently chewed me out on facebook for discussing his “rancid
ass” on the internet. Hmmmmmm. Truth be told, HE brought it up when he
reminded me of a fart he “dropped in my ear” during a trip we took together
to Arizona. My husband has been known to hear my bom-booferous,
window shakers from over two window unit air-conditioners (with about 8
spoons shoved inside each….THAT is another story that I’ll call Why My
Kids and Spoons Caused Me to Declare Bankruptcy), a ceiling fan, a 
snoring congested 1 year old and the movie DIE HARD cranked up on the
tv. I lied in my room laughing for 15 minutes after my own fart only to finally
think, “He must not have heard me. Maybe it wasn’t as loud as I thought.”
Only to have him poke his head in the bedroom door about 30 seconds later
and ask, “Are you okay? Did the roof fall on you?” DAMN. How embarrassing.
Well…THAT was nothing.
TODAY I was peeling potatoes for dinner and the washing machine was 
making it’s usual jet engine noises in the spin cycle and I had a CD playing 
in the kitchen. I looked around to make sure my husband wasn’t around (kids
are fair game…I’ll fart around them just to get even for them walking in on me
in the bathroom or only peeing on MY side of the bed!) and I let ‘er rip.
Well, I don’t know what a ripped spleen or ruptured small intestine actually 
feel like but I imagined it today. OH MY WORD! I doubled over and cried 
against the sink it hurt my abdomen so bad. I must have shrieked without 
realizing it because Hamo and my husband came running in thinking that I must
have cut myself. Then through the tears I started laughing. My husband asked
what happened and I told him he didn’t want to know. He looked puzzled. So
somewhat embarrassed I told him, “I farted so hard I hurt my intestines.”
He just rolled his eyes and muttered something in Arabic about “giving him 
strength.” 
At least my son felt for me. He hugged me and said, “I’m sorry your farts are 
so strong they fight back.” Little snot. He snickered as he walked out. Laugh
if they must. But I may be the first person in history to ever end up in traction
due to bad gas!

My Love of Irish Actors

I’ve always had a love for Irish actors. Maybe it’s my Irish roots (details of my heritage here.) While the love of my life is the Egyptian man that I married, on screen the likes of Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Patrick Dempsey and Colm Meaney grab my attention. I love the coarse language and dry humor and hilarity of such dire situations in comical tones that usually fill Irish movies. “In Bruges” was right up my alley. Where else would you have two stoned Irish hitmen, a Dutch hooker, and a racist American little person getting high in a Belgian hotel room? F-bombs a-plenty.

I think I got hooked when I first watched “The General” with Brendan Gleeson. I wonder if the Irish were the original “black comedians.” After seeing “Billy Elliot”, “In America,” “The Commitments,” and “Waking Ned,” I felt reconnected to my Irish comedic gene…you know, “me funny bone.” I love the dramatic films, too. “Veronica Guerin”, “Michael Collins,” and even “The Crying Game,” are movies I’ve seen at least three times each. But I think that my favorites are still the comedies. I just read about “The Guard” online tonight and I’m waiting impatiently for it to be released to satellite tv so I can see it. In the mean time, I’ll just keep watching my faves without dropping my own f-bombs so my kids don’t ask me if I’m feeling Irish.

Autobiography of Omnivore Army Brat Turned Vegetarian In Progress

Over the last ten years I’ve been trying to write a book. I always intended for it to be somewhat autobiographical but not a completely actual story of my life kind of thing. I figured there must be someone out there in the world who would find a crazy American who turns Muslim vegetarian living the ex-pat life in Egypt raising 5 young kids mostly on her own and without the aid of alcohol to be kind of funny. But everything I tried to get on paper seemed to come out kind of stilted and robot-like. Maybe that was due to the name-changing and trying to protect the innocent (or guilty.) You know, where I sort of lost touch with the main character because she didn’t seem like me anymore.

So a couple of days ago I sat down and screamed at all the kids to leave me alone. I was not “Mommy” anymore. Mommy left for a sabbatical and I was now to be called “Genevieve DuBois” and then told them all to go to bed. I typed my brains out. It didn’t take long. Well, really, it didn’t seem like it took long. I wrote for about four hours. And all of it’s completely non-fiction. I just got motivated re-reading my post on MY HERITAGE and decided “Hey, my life has been REALLY interesting. Being an Army brat and having attended 15 schools in 12 years (yes, that is in fact true), I really might have something to offer the world in the world of literature. Well, maybe something to offer the world of paperback books kept in the basket of bathroom reading material, anyway.” And so I wrote and wrote.

I’ve gotten about 13 pages done in a couple of nights. It’s quite anecdotal and probably something that any military brat can relate to. (Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition. Get over it.) I’m hoping to pound out rest of it in the next few weeks before I start my usual practice of “Death by Editing.”  As most artists are their own worst critics, I can make any draft bleed a horrible death of red ink editing and re-editing. But at least I’m writing again. And hopefully I’ll actually publish this time around.

My Heritage

When one crosses an Alabama-born, Army-brat girl of Irish Catholic redneck-lineage with an Egyptian Muslim raised in Greece, what does one get?

My family.

And now that I’ve converted to Islam, I think some people think I’m going through an identity crisis. I’ve been accused of turning my back on my heritage by several people. Mostly, they’re family members. Nothing could be further from the truth. I embrace my Irish heritage, my Catholic heritage, my Alabama and redneck heritage and my Army brat heritage. However, I do not cling to them with a G.I. Joe kung fu death grip. I take what I value as most important in all of them and use them as I need them, as the person I’ve become…so far.

I mean, really. Aren’t we all still developing as people the longer we live? Do we really just stop somewhere along the line in our personal growth and just not anymore? I haven’t. Personal growth isn’t height or shoe size. It’s a work in progress. At least, mine is.

I love my Irish heritage. I love my reddish hair and freckles. I love that I’m a 4th generation American on my Mom’s side. I love the width of my face and that I’m not usually offended when people drop the f-bomb. I love The Cranberries. I love that I’ve inherited the ability to look at a really bad situation and make a joke about it and carry on with life. I stopped drinking years ago. No reason to carry THAT particular gene around, right?

I was brought up Catholic. I was pretty involved in the church, sang in the folk choir, did readings at mass, taught Vacation Bible School and CCD, went on youth retreats and hung out with the CYO. I’ve since left the church for a myriad of reasons…all of them personal and none of them having to do with being “brainwashed” or “influenced” by my husband, any of his family, my friends, or living in Egypt. I still live by the same life standards by which I was raised. I treat others the way I want them to treat me. I try to turn the other cheek and think innocently of others, believing none of what I hear and half of what I see. As to the dogma of the Catholic church, I no longer embrace that at all. But having grown up in it and believing in it
for the better part of 34 years, I do still defend it when others, Muslim or Protestant or otherwise, speak
untruths about the beliefs of Catholics.

While Alabama and redneck do not necessarily walk hand in hand,  they happen to in my case. And I love
that I learned to parallel park in my Aunt Virginia’s Chevrolet Suburban and that my cousin, Wendy, and I used to drive to the state store in Mississippi in her 1949 purple Mercury with white wall tires so big that the car looked like a giant jelly bean on wheels. I love that I am one of the few girls in the world who knows what a universal joint is and how important it is when you’re trying to find a drive shaft that will fit on a 45 year old car. I love Mardi Gras in Mobile, the Fishing Rodeo on Dauphin Island, and water-skiing on Tea Lake. I love frito-pie at the ball games and the smell of pine needles and the sound of crickets and how it’s common knowledge that an Avon lady’s phone number is imperative in the summer months because how else can you keep the mosquitoes away without Skin-So-Soft bath oil and not smell like bug spray?

I love that I’m an Army brat and lived all over the United States and Germany. I love that I am adaptable to change and that I can speak four languages with a pretty good understanding of a fifth. I love that I don’t have “roots” down anywhere in particular because sometimes those roots can tie you down. I love that I continued with the travel bug my dad “infected” me with. I saw a huge chunk of Europe as a child and I enjoyed it with all my heart. Since I became an adult, I’ve continued seeing the world and added more of
Europe and parts of the Middle East and North Africa. I like that my children are all bilingual, even my
autistic daughter speaks Arabic and English. She’s teaching herself Greek and a little Japanese from subtitled DVDs. How cool is that? I love that I respect timetables and rules. I also love that I’m forgiving and can bend for situations where a particular due date was overtaken by events. I love that I went to a Department of Defense Dependents EURope (DODDSEUR) high school. I was exposed to world events as they happened,  politics, news, world history, historical sites like concentration camps, museums, and landmarks.
I love that we held our homecoming dance on a boat floating on the Neckar River and that we went to ski school in the Bavarian Alps. My father provided me with something so much more important than “roots.”
He gave me life experience, strict rules and a view of the world so broad that it somehow made the world an amazingly fantastic place to live. Living around the world has given me self-confidence, self-esteem, and an ability to not allow fear to prevent me from doing what I want. Being an Army brat, the words “I don’t know” were unacceptable. “I don’t know but I will find out,” was.

At current, I’m a redneck, Alabama-born, country-music lovin’, hip-hoppin’, hard-rockin’, Irish-American Muslim mother of five, living in Egypt. I can cook, sew, sing, write, home-school, slaughter and pluck a chicken just before cooking it for you and rebuild an alternator on a 1973 Chevrolet Camaro! I am amazing. And I owe it all to my heritage.

Reconnecting

Growing up an Army brat, I attended 15 schools in 12 years.
Filling out a security questionnaire for me was challenging and
probably a nightmare for the guy who had to do the back-
ground investigation on me. I wonder if he got overtime. He
damn sure deserved it.

We moved in the summer. We moved in the winter. We moved
all the time. By the time we finally picked of the little blue stickers
the movers had stuck on our furniture, it was time for another
moving company to come and put on some fresh ones. There
were a few times that they just stuck new ones on top of the
old ones.

I think the longest we ever lived in one place was the last place
we were stationed in Germany. It was a little town in Bavaria
called Schwaebisch Gmuend. Still we managed to move from
a very temporary inn just outside of town, to temporary 8 bed
room apartment on the 4th floor for one year, to a 3 bedroom
3rd floor apartment after one of my best friends, Anneliece, and
her family rotated back to the States. We stayed in that apart-
ment for a little over two years.

I made friends all over the world. We had summer vacations in
Italy where we camped and ate corned beef hash cooked on
a Coleman stove and then toured churches and cathedrals and
museums all day. We got to drive through the Swiss Alps and
my sister ordered goat’s milk at a restaurant in Switzerland just
like Heidi used to drink in the book. We went to Austria, the
Netherlands, England, Belgium, and France. We swam in the
Mediterranean and North Seas. But we didn’t know probably
half of our cousins and never understood what the word “home
town” actually meant.

Now that the world has become so much smaller, thanks to the
internet and social networks such as Facebook, I’ve reconnected
with friends I haven’t seen for nearly thirty years. And most of
the other military brats I was friends with still remember me and
the fun we used to have at various posts around the globe. Today
there was a post about paper grocery bags from the commissary
and all of the 1001 uses for them that had all of us in stitches.
It didn’t matter where we were stationed, Germany, England,
Spain, Italy, Ft. Knox, Kentucky….we ALL used those bags in
the same ways.

Reconnecting with other military brats has helped me in the last
few weeks. It helped me to remember how complete I am as a
person; how my “weirdness” is not unique to me but to all of us
military brats…thus giving me a sense of normalcy. Whatever
THAT is.

I’m proud that I’m a military brat. I’m proud that my dad served
for more than 20 years in the US Army. I’m proud that his
service allowed me to reap the benefits of world culture, a larger
sense of appreciation for others cultures, a respect for humans
as a whole, and a sincere and deep lack of understanding of the
word “prejudice.” Thanks, Dad. (And thanks, Facebook.)

Goodbye, Friend!

My sister informed me a few nights ago that
a friend of mine from high school passed away
quite recently. I’d known that he was ill and
had been diagnosed with the same type of
melanoma as my mother some 26 years ago. I
guess because my mom made it, I’d had hope for
Devon. God had other plans.

Devon was a couple of years ahead of me in
school. He was very intelligent and funny and
politically aware and spoke fluent Italian and
English and was learning German and of course,
I had a crush on him. Only I was a dork freshman
with braces and he spoke to me but NEVER with
the look in his eye that only a 14-year-old girl
could wish for.

His two best friends were Alex and Rudy. The
three of them would climb on the bus each morning
on our way to school and laugh and rehash events
that happened over the weekend at various clubs
(usually Karibik the disco down the hill from
our housing area in picturesque Schwaebisch Gmuend,
Germany.) I loved to hear their stories and to
watch Devon dance that typical German dance where
one hardly moves his head and moves stiffly to the
music….sort of like the guys on Schprockets
from Saturday Night Live. Devon introduced me to
punk rock and spray-on pink hair. I’ve never been
able to listen to the Clash without thinking of him.
And even though my short-lived crush was not
acknowledged by him, my friendship was. He was
always a good guy and remembered some of our conver-
sations once we reconnected on Facebook.

And while his family and friends are devestated by
his death at such a young age, I pray that God bless
them all with patience to overcome this sense of loss.
And that God be generous and merciful to Devon and
forgive him any sins and allow him into his place in
Heaven.