This is one of the very few pictures I have of my older brother, Willie & myself together. I love his goofy grin!
It was taken in a photo booth, at Idora Park in Youngstown, OH. I remember we got to go there once a year, when my Dad's job sponsored a free attendance day. There isn't any date on it but I'm guessing I was around 8 years old.
He used to tease my younger siblings & I, unmercifully. I remember one time that he was left in charge to babysit us, while my parents were shopping...he made all of the younger kids sit on the sofa & he sat across from us with a cork pop-gun in his hand. He would shoot us in the knee if we tried to get up & leave. I laugh now at the memory but it wasn't funny at the time! Sadly, he & I often fought in our teenage years...we didn't agree on much back then.
This photo of him was taken at my house, on Easter, around 1970. He is playfully bonking my Dad on the head with a foil wrapped kielbasa, that I was sending home with him. I never really liked him with that beard...he was so much nicer looking without it.
He was a very popular fellow with lots of friends. It used to bug me when I was in high school & someone would say to me "Oh, you're Bill's sister!" I'd answer back, "No, Bill is my brother!" They didn't get it. Now I'm so proud to be known as his sister!
He was a remarkable guy with a wide variety of interests. He got to see the world while he was in the Air Force. I still have the postcard he sent to me from Japan.
He wore real wooden clogs all the time. I thought he was so cool.
He planted a huge garden every year. He was into collecting beautiful knives at one time. He was very handsome...tall, robust & healthy.
In high school, he was a football player...I remember when he chipped his front tooth, playing football. My Mother was furious...she hadn't wanted him to play in the first place!
He joined the Air Force when the Vietnam War started & had been a member of the elite Air Force Pararescuemen group, also known as "PJ's" or Maroon Berets from 1967 through 1971.
From Wikipedia: "Pararescuemen (also known as PJs) are United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and Air Combat Command (ACC) operatives tasked with recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments. These special operations units are also used to support NASA missions and have been used to recover astronauts after water landings. They are attached to other SOF teams from all branches to conduct other operations as appropriate. Of the 22 enlisted Air Force Cross recipients, 12 are Pararescuemen. They wear the maroon beret as a symbol of their elite status, and to symbolize the blood shed by past PJs, as well as the blood current PJs are willing to shed to save lives. Part of the little-known Air Force Special Operations community and long an enlisted preserve, the Pararescue service began commissioning Combat Rescue Officers early in the 21st century. "
He & his fellow officers went into the jungles of Vietnam, via helicopter, to rescue the wounded. He was also one of a team of divers who helped recover a manned lunar capsule from the ocean. John Glenn or Armstrong perhaps? I wish I could find that photo! Maybe one of my siblings have it.
He died 21 years ago today, (on my birthday), when he was just 47 years old. He had developed some sort of abdominal discomfort while out hunting in November of 1992. He didn't want to interrupt the holidays for his family, so he waited until after Christmas & went into the hospital on Jan. 1, 1993 to have some tests done.
When it was discovered that he had cancer, he was given very aggressive chemotherapy, which, unfortunately shut down his kidneys. He was in my former ICU unit, where I had worked full time, for over 10 years. My friends & colleagues took as good of care of him as they could but he lost his battle against the disease & sadly, passed away eighteen days later.
He left behind a wife, (who was an RN, like me) and two handsome sons, neither of which had even finished high school at the time. They went on to graduate from college & have since grown into wonderful young men that I know he would have been proud of. They've both married & have 2 girls by the oldest son & 3 boy by the younger son. It is sad that those 5 little tykes never got a chance to know their grandfather. It makes me try especially hard to make good memories of the times my grandchildren & I are together.
Part of the reason I blog, is to leave a record of events & recollections for my daughter & grandchildren.
I want them to know about the important things in my life, besides food & dishes!
Thanks for visiting today...it is always kind of a melancholy day for me.
Oh & if you have a minute,
pop over to Sarah's blog,
to wish HER a "Happy Birthday"...
we share the same day!