The Unauthorized Biography of Rosco P. Coltrane

When it's my moment in the sun, I won't forget that I am blessed, but every hero walks alone, thinking of more things to confess

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Location: Owensboro, Kentucky, United States


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Just Another Four Letter Man In A Jam

Last night, I came home ready to write some more about Oaxaca. But for some reason, I just couldn't. I tried. I sat down and even got a few sentences out, but it just wasn't there. I had somehow lost my muse. Not sure where exactly she went. Maybe she went out for some cigs kept on going, maybe I left her in Mexico, or maybe she just went out for some drinks with the gals, I am not sure. All I know is she was nowhere near my laptop last night.

I paced around my apartment, looking around my muse. But it was no luck. I tried to watch a little television, but it just frustrated me more and more. So I decided there was only on thing I could do to find her. I grabbed my sunglasses, turned on XM, and peeled out of the parking lot. I just began to drive around and around through the gloaming of the day. No real agenda, no real destination, no real route. I was just headed towards more blacktop trying to find my muse.

I drove around listening to a lot of great music. A little Counting Crows' Holiday in Spain, Slaid Cleaves' Oh Roberta, My Morning Jacket's Same in Any Language, Ryan Adams' Wonderwall, Radney Foster's Half of My Mistakes, and Percy Sledge's When a Man Loves a Woman. The music seemed to cut through the heat and humidity of the night and create a cool breeze. I drove around looking for a new book I have been wanting, but the gloaming kept calling me. And even though gas is 2.69 a gallon, I didn't care. I just kept on going. Until I found myself on a street I had never been on before. And when the street dead ended, I found myself at the entrance of the National Cemetery.

I walked through the markers of W.W.I veterans, people born almost a hundred years before me, with nothing but silence and an occasional break in the silence from a softball game nearby. There were lives that had been fully lived and done before I was a glint in my parents' eyes. I walked through the Pearl Harbor veterans section. I walked through the Korea and Vietnam vets too. There were people that died too young. Young men that never made it back. Now only names, only inscriptions in white limestone that glimmered in the dying light.

As I was walking back to my jeep, my eyes were focusing on all the different names. All the Theodore'ss and Arnold's, names that aren't as popular now as they used to be. As I was processing all these names, my eyes were caught by one marker in particular.

Willis (Name withheld for privacy).

He was in World War II and died in the early 90's. The inscription stated his rank and below it a few simple words: He Was Loved. On the reverse side of the marker was of his wife, Irene. It had the day she was born, the day she died, and the simple words: She Was Special.

I stood there for about 5 minutes envisioning Willis and Irene. I saw their life together flash by on that tombstone. It was strange how six little words on a tombstone told me such a story. It was like watching a movie projected on that tombstone. I could see their entire lives.

Willis so young, going off to war. He was so gung ho, so ready. He married Irene two days before he left for Europe. She knew it was probably mistake, it was too hasty, but she did it anyway. And the day Willis returned home, about a month after the Japanese had surrendered, she realized that she would have to fall in love with him again. But she stuck it out. They had kids, they bought a house, the kids grew up. Willis worked hard as an accountant at a local factory. Willis and Irene never really traveled much. Irene didn't ask Willis many questions about the war. Though she knew he had reoccurring dreams of battles and fights, she thought it best not to ask. Maybe they will go away, she thought. But they didn't. But he survived. And not long after he retired from keeping the books, he and Irene planned a nice vacation to visit relatives on the West coast. But Willis had a stroke and died a few months before they were to leave. Irene didn't know what to do. It took a while for her to figure out all the finances Willis had left her with. And at the funeral, a few old men with tears in their eyes showed up to show their support of a man that new in a battlefield 50 years before. Irene eventually realized that she could go on without her husband, just like those days after the wedding, when she didn't know Willis was coming back. Now she knew he wasn't coming back, but she also knew that she would see him soon enough. But she lived her life, and she filled those 15 years that she lived without her husband with good memories that she planned to tell him about one day.

Yeah, the story was so vivid when my muse stood there and told me of two people and the lives that I will never know. Maybe the story I found somewhere deep in that limestone is true. Maybe it all happened like that. Probably not. But I do know a few things.

I know that Willis was loved. And Irene was special.

And I found my muse in a cemetery in the gloaming between day and night.


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