Monday, October 4, 2010

LETTERS TO AND FROM VIETNAM: Reflections of Rick Still Happen

It started to happen last week when Arkansas almost beat Alabama in college football. It got a little stronger as the 49ers continued to lose each week in pro football. It hit its peak yesterday when the Giants won the National League pennant. It doesn't take much, but, yes, many things still make me think of my friend Rick.

It may be little things like when I was over near ASU last week and I saw a Fed Ex truck drive by. There were so many Fed Ex employees from different locations at Rick's memorial service. Yes, a few of them raised their hands when it was asked who had their cars worked on by Rick.

Last week, Jean asked me if I would ever go visit the grave. Even though carrying the casket to the site was one of the toughest things I ever have done and we have both feel burial is not the way we want to go, I had to tell her that, yes, I have thought about visiting the site.

One of the biggest things that make me reflect on Rick is when it comes to sports. Rick and I had a life long habit of rooting for different teams. We loved to hate the teams the other liked. He didn't even like ice hockey, but he would root for the teams he knew I didn't like just to bug me. That rivalry was passed on to the next generation. When our children went to different high schools, I am sure he had Sam go to Mountain View because he knew it would bring disappointment to the Memberto household.

One year, while Sam still played for the Toros, Mesa beat them in the annual rivalry game. Melissa and I got the key to the high school room at church and decorated it in Jackrabbit colors and the group, in which Rick was one of the leaders, walked in and sat in the midst of Purple and Gold for the entire class.

One of the things that I looked forward to during the year I was in Vietnam were the letters I got each week from Rick. During the baseball season, I got weekly reports about how the Giants were so good and how much he hated the Dodgers. The best, however, were the letters I got during the football season. The 49ers, his beloved 49ers and the LA Rams, yes kids, they used to be in Los Angeles, were having up and down seasons. They fought it out to the end against each other. The weeks the 49ers were on top, I received such fine letters of encouragement. Rick telling me how good life was and how he loved that his team was on top. The weeks, however, when the Rams were doing well, the letters turned to ungodly(yes they included even cuss words)venom about how terrible, evil forces were in the world.

The love that he showed me, even while I was away, helped me get through some tough times. He was always around when I was away. I always knew how to find him for an encoraging word, a loving diatribe about our teams, something to share about his family, his church or our friendship.

Yes, even now, reflections still come to mind about my friend Rick. The pain won't go away soon. But the memories sure will continue to make the reflections fun and loving.

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