Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The end of a life well lived.

I spent eleven years as a Helicopter Air-Crewman in the United States Coast Guard. I've personally saved no less than 27 lives. I've seen a far greater number of lives lost. Commercial fishermen, pleasure boaters, drug smugglers, airline crash victims, victims of natural disasters, human traffickers, victims of Asian slave trade, refugees from Cuba & Haiti and worst of all, fellow Coast Guardsmen lost in the line of duty who gave their lives "That Others Might Live".

I've seen some grisly stuff. But I was always able to process it somehow. Either via professional detachment in the case of the innocent, or contempt for members of society's dark underbelly I was able to work through what I saw, compartmentalize it and move on. Not that I wasn't deeply impacted, but I was able to deal with it.

This year I experienced something new. For the first time in my 41 years I lost a family member. I'd been blessed until now to have never lost a parent or grandparent. My folks are in good health and my maternal grandparents are as well. But over the last 7-10 years my paternal grandmother fell victim to Alzheimer's Disease.