Sunday, April 09, 2006

It all comes back around....

There are parts of your life that you leave behind. Every now and then you have a thought of the past, some good, some bad, but for the most part, they're just passing thoughts. I moved back to, what I call, my hometown a few years ago. I lived here through my adolescence years when all was good and rarely anything was bad. When I moved, my life changed. Ever since I graduated high school, though, I knew I wanted to come "home". It took almost 10 years to accomplish that, but here I am.
To me, everyone who I knew here is stuck at the age of 13 or 14. This is the age I was when I left. I look at faces as I walk around town, but no one looks familiar. People change a lot in 15 or so years. Their faces aren't what I remember. Some do look the same and others I just can't recognize. Then there are those that recognize me.
I walked into a bank last week to make a deposit for work. I sat my bag down on the counter and hear a voice to my left say "Don't I know you?" I look over, and sure enough, yes, he does know me. He grew up just down the road from me and was a year younger. I always had a crush on his older brother, and his mother was my 7th grade Psychology or Sociology teacher. We shared a mutual friend who also lived down the road, who I was close to and grew up with. During the course of our conversation on how long it's been since we had last seen each other (we ran into each other my sophmore year of college) and how our families were doing. He mentioned that our said mutual friend was finally getting married. I can assure you, his mother is probably VERY happy! I remember seeing her at a yard sale and her asking if I was married. When I told her yes, she said, Oh, my sons not. I giggled. Her son was my first kiss. I'm glad he's getting married :). Anyway, we wrapped up our conversation, said our goodbyes and I went on my way. One thing was lingering though. During our conversation, he asked if I had gone to someone's funeral, another friend who was in my class. I said no, I couldn't recall who that was. It hit me about the time I got to my car.
A few weeks ago, our town had a funeral service for a Sgt killed in Iraq. Actually, there were two who were killed in the same convoy who were from this area, the other funeral was in a neighboring county. Anyway, this Sgt had worked for the county, had been a father and was my age. He graduated from high school the same year I did. I remember thinking how sad that was for his family. A coworker who had previously worked for the county went to his funeral and brought back the program from the service. I glanced over it, did my greiving for the unknown and went on my way. Until a few days ago. He wasn't someone I was close to or someone who I interacted with a lot in middle school, but I knew him just the same. I could picture the picture I had of him sitting in an old photo album. He was smiling and someone was holding his arms back, making sure he stayed still for the camera. It was our 8th grade ice cream social. I was taking pics because I knew I was leaving that summer. This is the way I remember SSgt Joe Ray.
And this is the way that everyone remembers a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country on March 12, 2006


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