Day Two of Twelve.
I've been sitting on this set of photos specifically for my blog. Too much expressed emotion, remembrance, and nuance to simply put in a photo album on Facebook, these pictures needed a personal boundary in which to reside.
The Thanksgiving holiday was certain to prove poignant since the GilGuy's father had passed away. Arriving at his home, his widow awaiting us, gave way to that series of moments. "Granny V" had prepared a space of Buz's belongings. Did we want any of them? Military medals, significant and insignificant items lay strewn in a display of personhood. Not empty or hollow, rather full of the recollection of the man who had traversed the pathways of our hearts stood before us.
Moments of honorable silence gave way to discussion of how and when we saw Buz last with any item in particular in hand. (See also this photo album on Facebook)
I soon left the room to allow for the others to consider the destiny of each item in solitude. Family members emerged, belonging in hand, memories to discuss.
I wasn't necessarily surprised the the IsraeliBoy had gathered Grandpa's dog tags unto himself . . . but all of us were slightly astonished at the display before us.
Roman Catholic. Every good Cajun was indeed a Roman Catholic, born and raised . . . yet Buz had an encounter with the Lord which caused him to branch beyond this denominational label and find community expression of faith among the 'evangelicals' - Baptist, Protestant, whatever name you'd like to give them. A saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, having been born again by repentance from dead works and a faith in Him.
Looking at the evidence of a minor who'd entered the service (he was 15 when he entered the Navy, he later entered the Marine force where he became a Captain) gave way to conversation about one of his tatoos: his social security number, insignia'd on his leg ~ in case he was blown to smithereens. Which was quite possible. A veteran of three wars: WWII, Korea, and Vietnam and subject to atomic bombing trials at close range ~ he was no stranger to danger in the least.
Tatoos? Far from the most unusual fact of his military life. An injury during his years of service brought about an exploratory surgical look at his backside, where a calcified fetus - his twin - was found absorbed by his body, once securely hidden away, now exposed as a trivia piece of unique proportions.
Beyond his military career, he was a man of significant stature and contradiction in terms. Gregarious and service-to-others-oriented yet a quiet, studious loner who preferred to be enjoying his own company. Linguistically versed in at least seven languages, little escaped his intelligent ear for detail. And of course, there is Padre Pio. :)
His presence among us was far to short, much abbreviated. He's left behind vestiges of his persona, and with it, photographs and memories of a man much misunderstood, yet respected by many.