2017-05-03 / Editorials

Don Lively


Where were you?

Everybody has times, events from their respective pasts, when they remember exactly where they were, and what they were doing, when a certain event occurred, or, when they heard the news about that event.

If you're old enough, you know where you were the moment you heard about the Kennedy assassination.

You remember the day Elvis died.

In more recent years, the day that America was attacked by radical Islamic terrorists, and the exact minute that you learned about it, is etched in your mind forevermore.

On 9-11, I had flown all night and had just gotten back to Colorado after a fast trip to the Blessed South. On my return, for reasons totally unrelated to terrorism, my flight was rerouted through St. Louis instead of Dallas. If you've ever flown into St. Louis's Lambert International airport, you know that flights from the east appear to come in very close to the downtown high rise buildings. I remember noting that, and, a few hours later, watching the madmen crashing into the twin towers.

I'll remember those horrible moments forever.

But, I also remember many, more personal moments, and what I was doing and where I was when those particular events took place.

I suspect that you do too.

You remember the circumstances that surrounded you when you found out that you were going to be a parent for the first time.

Or a grandparent.

You remember.

I remember the exact moment that I found out I'd received an appointment to the police academy. I'd been roofing houses for a living and I was on a roof on an early June day, sweltering, alternately cussing and praying. It being before the advent of cell phones, I'd left the homeowner's number with the city so I could be contacted. We'd been told that, if we were accepted, we'd get a phone call. If not, we'd get a letter. The lady came out and told me that there was "a lieutenant Somebody" on the phone for me.

My life took a huge pivot at that moment.

On the night that I found out that Daddy had gone to Heaven, I went over to see my kids and told them the news. I was scheduled to work the night shift, and, since we'd been short handed, I went to work knowing at the end of the night I'd be packing the truck with clothes, kids, and a supportive ex-wife, to make the long sad drive. My first dispatched call once I hit the street was a fire at an apartment complex. The community center had caught fire and would end up burning all night. I did perimeter security for eight straight hours while I watched it blaze, the whole time knowing that Daddy would have approved of me going to work, taking care of business, before heading South to help bury him.

I was at The Pond when I had my first "episode" that would lead to my triple bypass heart procedure. The boys had gathered for a firepit, had a great time, and then dispersed. I'd stayed behind to have a bit of quiet time with the night critters and the dark sky. Sitting there alone, I felt somebody tap me on my left shoulder, except, there was nobody there. My left side, from my fingertips to my jaw, went numb for a few minutes. Having been through dozens of first-responder trainings, I knew exactly what was happening, but, the night sounds were so appealing that I sat for another hour before I headed home. It would require two more shoulder taps over the next four days before I finally allowed the doctors to crack open my chest and save my life.

I was on vacation with some family members when my son, a Marine, landed in Iraq when our country was still fighting over there. I've stood at thousands of "scenic overlooks" all over the world, but, I know exactly which one I was at when I got the call. We were on a beautiful rise above the Shenandoah Valley, looking down on some of the most fertile farmland on the planet, while half a world away my boy was beginning a deployment to defend a desert hellhole.

The irony was not lost on me.

Those are just a few memories burned into my mind by events that altered, or at least affected, the course of my life.

I remember.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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