Sunday, June 19, 2011

Memorial Day.......a veteran.....

I took a trip with my family to a Memorial Day celebration in Pocatello this year. I spent a couple of hours visiting old town and sites along the east side of the railroad tracks. I visited the abandoned, dreary, sun bleached buildings running parallel along the tracks as if they're standing at attention and waiting to follow the next yellow engine right out of town.  The scene is not depressing, on the contrary it seems to carry itself with an allure of historical arrogance. I don't say that in a condescending way. I've been here many times and I've never seen this side of Pocatello. I'm usually complaining about the pollution that quickly turn me into a runny, snotty nose whiner! Pocatello has character, real character. 

While I was looking for photo opportunities and time to kill before the Memorial Day celebration at Century High I ran into a complete stranger by the name of Robert. He was nice enough, he was polite and inquisitive, as it turned out he was a veteran of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. With several tours under his belt and a new set of problems resulting from combat exposure he kindly shared a brief snapshot of his life with me. I snapped shots attempting to capture what it might feel to have these splinters forever wired into his brain. In the end I don't know if I captured it or not, all I could really do is say thank you for the service he provided for me. Because of brave people like Robert and the people represented by crosses I later encountered at the Memorial I am able to spend a day doing what I like to do.....without fear. Free.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

He died as he lived life........connected and in tune.

When I die I want to die on my own terms. My grand father died two weeks ago and he lived life in a way I will forever admire. He was a wanderer and a dreamer......he was a great man. My memories of him are limited since I grew up in America. He came to America a few years ago for the first time. He spoke fondly of the American way of life. One comment he made to me while watching the Idaho Falls Chuckers play was "How in the world could a person ever be depressed or sad living in such a wonderful place, nobody to bother you, smiles from strangers,........", he said it in a way that I can't fully explain in words. He saw America in a way that made sense. He wasn't saying he disliked Mexico and America was better. He was saying I should be grateful and respectful of where I live. Without saying it directly. The message made me look out among the players and fans........below the lights.....below the American Flag I lost myself in a moment of being. Not doing but just being.

My mother, who dearly loved her father, wasn't able to attend the funeral because of the violence in Mexico. For fear of being kidnapped or worse she endured the loss from the confines of her mind. The reality that the death of a parent in Mexico brings children back to their family of origin and the possibility of a payday for some unscrupulous criminal hit home two weeks ago. Helpless does not begin to describe it. Oddly enough I have never been to the funeral of an extended biological family member. The reasons are many and the time to explain is not now.

I learned today that my grandfather died on his own terms. He had been hiking and exploring days and hours before he died. In the hills and valleys around Labor Vieja he could be found wandering alongside nature with the same wide eyed wonder of a curious toddler. One night two weeks ago he made plans to go pick wild cactus fruit with my Uncle Joel. (the equivalent of going fishing with your dad) Shortly after getting his tools ready he complained of breathing difficulties. They rushed to the hospital in Rio Verde.  That night he looked at my Uncle Joel and with a smile said "Son, lets get outta here, lets go home, I'm not going to make it, I know this...lets just go home." Seconds later he pulled the oxygen mask from his face and stubbornly refused to be reconnected to it and all other medical devices. He didn't suffer helplessly in a bed for years, he knew it was time and simply closed his eyes..... minutes later he died.

David Rangel: My grandfather