My father’s funeral was yesterday. The family was present. The services, held in a good sized chapel, were conducted by a retired military chaplain. He was wonderful, his words comforting. We looked around and observed there were many less in attendance than we surmised. We finally realized that, at 88, our father had outlived the bulk of his friends.
A United States Air Force Honor Guard carried my father’s coffin from the chapel to a site of repose for the rest of the service, amidst an impressive court of columns, flags, artillery pieces. The guard ceremoniously folded the flag draped across my father’s casket as three riflemen fired their salute with M-1 Garands. Despite the fact that there are so few of them left in military service, the Air Force found a bugler for my father. She played Taps. The flag was presented to my eldest brother: “On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of Colonel Alley.”
The day was clear and bright. The blue skies contained few clouds. It was a blessing.
First, thanks to each and every one of my readers for your kind comments about my father, literally, over the years. I don’t have many acquaintances; I have fewer, if any, real friends.
Certainly I had “best friends” when I was young and growing up — Randy and Rick. And I had a small cadre of very good and close friends during my college days (Randy, Chuck, Lynda, Richard, Jodee, Kerry, you know who you are!). We transported ourselves in a cloud wherever we went. Where one went we all went. Those were fabulous, fun, fanciful days.
But those days are gone. We all went our separate ways, quite physically. Cast to the four winds, little seeds blowing over hills to land in other areas and then sprout. Sprout with others.
Some of us got married, myself included. That marriage was not to last, since we were both as socially mature as a box of Frosted Flakes. We no more possessed a concept of how to conduct a true adult relationship, much less an actual marriage, than the Man In The Moon. We were young, stupid, and quite convinced the galaxy revolved around our individual selves. That we lasted six years was now, in reflection, a testament itself. We hit the rocks in the shallow waters just off the point, took water, hit the switch for the pumps haltingly, then shortly flicked it off and abandoned ship. I can only hope she’s happy. I’m certain she’s much happier now than then.
I’m not particularly social nor schooled in social graces. I’m not much physically demonstrative in a relationship. I can be, at times, warm and cuddly as a Bolivian Anaconda. I’m not a Joiner; I’m more the loner. It’s just there, in my wiring, straight from the factory.
But one thing I’ve come to appreciate (amongst many, many others, recently), is the support and countenance of the people surrounding my little blip on the blogosphere, here on Bloviating Zeppelin.
Probably, like much of you, I spend way too much time on the internet either writing my blog, researching for my blog, visiting my Usual Suspects list or gathering the latest information on news and politics. That’s not bad, in my opinion, not at all. I’ve gotten to virtually meet any number of new and fascinating people in my time following the first BZ post on June 19th of 2004. Amazing to think this ridiculous little blog has lasted so long and that, this coming June 19th, it will have been alive for five years.
Since then, I’ve managed to corral a readership, hit Large Mammal status, and recently enjoyed my 6,200th profile view. That may not mean much to some but, to me, for someone who writes mostly for himself and not for others (there goes that lonely, non-joining Lone Wolf crap again), I am still floored that anyone would much bother with me, considering there are so many other more infinitely valuable and worthy places to visit on the internet.
So when I welcome you, as a new viewer to my blog, when you comment — or even if you simply come to “dine and dash” — trust me when I write that I truly value your visit, I’m glad you stopped by and am honored that you’ve even chosen to comment.
Time is so precious. Thank you for giving some to me. Thank you for your support during these very tempestuous times for me and my family. What I’m experiencing isn’t anything new at all per se. Most of you have likely lost very precious loved ones or even your parents themselves.
But it’s new to me and you’ve all treated me with grace and courtesy.
For that I am quite honored. I don’t know how to repay you all for the help and comfort you’ve provided.
And so, I conclude, that I really do have friends. Most of whom I’ve never met (save Gawfer!) and likely never will. But your mere presence, right now, in these times, is very much akin to aloe on a burn. Like the cool side of my pillow.
Thank you all.
My most sincere thanks to the Travis Air Force Base Elite Honor Guard. They drove 43 miles, one way, through dense Friday traffic to honor my father and the family. God bless you all.