Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hamster Wars--The Final Chapter

In all the sound and fury in the saga of my daughter’s hamster(s), a good story got lost. My son got a hamster on the same day. His hamster, Gibbes, never got out, never got away, and never bit. He played on his wheel. He would let you pet him. He was great. My son cleaned his cage, played with him, and bought him little hamster toys.

Sadly, our faithful servant, Gibbes, bit the dust last week. I guess the ceremony we’ve gone through in the last few months with grandparent funerals has had some sort of effect. Alexey, 11 years old, planned and executed a grand funeral for his furry friend.

Last Thursday, Gibbes was interred at, ahem…”Harlington” National Cemetery on a hill overlooking Gran and Pop Pop’s house. His flag draped coffin (a wooden cigar box. The flags were the kind you wave at parades. Alexey removed the sticks) was borne to the graveside by a remote control tank. He was awarded the honor of a “flyover” by an Air Hog remote control helicopter, a 21-firecracker salute, and the firing of four skyrockets from Pop Pop’s barbecue pit. Alexey eulogized his friend, placed him in the grave and covered him with dirt.

Aside from the humor, I’m truly proud of the way my son reacted to losing his first pet. It’s not an easy thing. There were some tears, but almost immediately, he began formulating a way to honor his fallen friend. That’s respect, and that’s a good thing.

Because Gibbes was so small a creature, I suppose the mourning period is as proportionately short. Yesterday we went (at my peril) back to PetSmart to look at guinea pigs. Yikes!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Anthony Labrozzi. A Man's Man

We lost another hero Tuesday. Col. Anthony Labrozzi joined his beautiful wife, Anne, in Heaven. He, battle-worn; he, who answered his country’s call to honor; he, whose life was riven by the plowshare of not one but three wars, has reported in to the angel of angels, the Prince of Peace.

For us, the tears flow. Our eyes are blurred by the moisture of grief, though we know the Colonel is in a place of everlasting grace. And once again, he is with his beloved.

He was a man of action, a soldier’s soldier; a man of spit and polish, and above all, order. The Colonel and Anne blessed this world with four children—Scott, Steven, Tina, and Cara. I was not privileged enough to know his sons. I only know that they are men like their father, stout of faith and strong in the love of their families.

It has been my honor for more than 25 years to know his daughters. I have been to his house at most once in my life. It is a house carpeted with love. His kitchen table is infused by the gentle perfume of tens of thousands of baked cookies and roasted turkeys, absorbed through year after year of family time. His hallways echo with the laughter of his children as they grew up and now with the peals of chatter from his grandchildren. And who can forget the endless summer splash of the pool? This is the life for which he fought, and it embraced him in thanks and goodwill.

Men of the Colonel’s generation use words like honor, liberty, freedom, justice, compassion. For them, these words had tenor and meaning. He and his compatriots took enemy fire for them. Like many of his breed, he was a quiet man—stoic and proud. Yet at the same time, he found a way to be immensely selfless.

If a man’s legacy is judged by the children he leaves behind, then the Colonel’s is secure. His daughters are by no means stoic. I’m rather certain neither one knows what the word means. They are just the opposite—effusive, loving, demonstrative, compassionate to a fault. And these…these are the lives the Colonel fought for. May God bless him.

No one truly leaves this world until there’s no one around who remembers him. We remember Colonel—though our recollections may come to us amidst a flood of tears or through the gauzy haze of time—we remember. We bid you peace now, peace and gentle slumber. Your battle is won.