My Uncle Dave died a couple hours ago. He suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) which basically renders your muscles useless. Think of slow suffocation. How did he come about this? He was given it as an invisible present from the U.S. Pentagon during Vietnam when they exposed him to Agent Orange. It doesn’t show up in vets until after the age of 50. In my Uncle’s case, he only found out 3-4 months ago he had it but by the time of his death he could barely whisper and couldn’t move a muscle to turn himself over in bed or feed himself.
My Uncle was just a common guy who barely survived the war and spent the rest of his life one step ahead of its lingering nightmares. It wasn’t a happy life for him really but he plugged along all the same. He’d do anything for anyone if he could. What he’ll be remembered most for though is the ability to tell the simplest of stories, or relate a seemingly mundane event, and have an entire room of people cracking up with laughter by the time he finished.
I rented a place from him when I was younger and could always go to him for advice. When he got divorced, he use to go out with me and my friends – they found him hilarious to be around – and I think I was able at least for a couple months to keep him from going insane. We had some good times in those days.
To say I am bitter is an understatement. He never got the help he was owed even at the end. The Americans killed him a long time ago and at the end they didn’t care any more than they did back then. I know things happen in war. I know innocents are killed and soldiers come back not right. I also know the Americans didn’t care then and they don’t care now and haven’t lifted a finger to change their ways which is why I’ve seen friends wilt away from Gulf War Syndrome which like Agent Orange the government said really didn’t pose a problem or that drones can wipe out a village at a party and no one pays attention here because a robot or the guy 10,000 miles away steering it can’t be wrong, right?
My Uncle Dave and I part ways for now. I actually made a quick reference to him in my book which now, I am glad I did. Some day it will be my time to cross and hopefully I will discover at that point he found the peace on the other side he never had here. Then I know we’ll share a good laugh.