Grand Pockets’s Blog

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Remembering the Past as a new Year Beigns

In the Yuma Foothills

In the Yuma Foothills

Back to the beginning – of adulthood anyway. It was the Marine Corps for me. I was stationed in Yuma, Arizona for much of my duty. Yuma is just about the most god forsaken place on earth, at least in the USA. The town’s main claim to fame is an old adobe prison for crying out loud. It’s scorching hot in the coolest part of the year and surrounded by orange groves claimed from the Mojave sands by the miracles of irrigation, and a whole lot of unconverted barren desert.

Recreation is mostly by bottle, toke or mattress. In summer the place shrivels into itself as the snowbirds head north and the sun sears everything left behind. Summer is Chicano time – most of the people left are Mexican born within a generation or less and Spanish becomes the common language.

In October and November the wealthy and retired return trailing their motor homes behind them in a dazzling stream of glinting Winnebago colors, filling empty desert lots with row after row of metallic winter suburbs. Restaurants, apartment complexes and hotels come to life and the winter wealth of minimum wage service jobs brings throngs of illegals across the border to do the drudge most Americans won’t for wages none of us want.desertbloom

It’s hardly a hopping spot for a young Marine to pass spare time so most of the guys just get drunk when they arrive and stay that way until their hitch is up. Whore chasing in San Luis Mexico’s infamous “boys town” and javelina hunting in the desert are the biggest sports around. I tried both. The javelina hunts were fun. The other? Well I was young…..

Despite it all, I loved the desert. Maybe it’s the artist in me but I found the desert very beautiful and compelling. In the midst of beige sands stretching forever a tiny orange bloom would spring alive atop a sharp spiny cactus and delight me.

mcas-yuma-signI used to love running (in those days I ran marathons and could basically run forever –Forrest Gump’s long run in the movie always reminds me of those runs in the Mojave) across the desert floor from the outer camp near the big orange groves northwest of town back into the main base stopping along the way to play with horned toads or to examine a strange stone cactus or extravagant wildflower that found a tiny breath of moisture and sprang to life for a day or an hour. The paucity of life in the desert makes each thing you find all the more precious and glorious to behold.

The desert in Arizona is big, too. Wide open, sprawling, harsh expanses that stretch your soul out like laundry hung in the breeze to freshen. Ihawk-missiles-desert still love to visit Arizona, though mostly I get to Phoenix which has become such a huge city most of the beauty it inhabits is spoiled by power-lines and manmade eyesores. Now that my son is stationed at Davis-Monthan maybe I’ll get to visit the area more often.

Anyway, during my stint in the Corps I got married. I was 19, she was 16. Lasted 12 years, 3 kids. We simply grew apart and she ended up meeting a guy where she worked and that was that. No battles or anything. He became a big scandal later but that’s another story. Her dad was my Gunnery sergeant in the Corps and his hometown was KC so that’s how I wound up in Missouri.

Remarried 6 months later because I hated being alone and that was a huge mistake. I married a party girl who kept right on partying after we got married. She was an obsessive/compulsive at everything- gambling, drinking, drugs, check writing. After 2 sons and 4 years I knew I had to get out or she would destroy me too. Yes, I tried to get her help, counseling, she was in court and they got her counseling. Nothing helped because she wasn’t ready to change. I finally left when she wrote a couple thousand dollars in bad checks and drained our bank account.

All that kind of put me off women for awhile. I mean, I knew intellectually it was my choices of women and that not all women were like that but emotionally? Yeah, you know what I mean. After a while I got my head together and quit blaming it on the woman and made myself accountable. I learned right there that no one else can ever hold the key to your own happiness.

dix-2I met my third wife, a nurse, and had a wonderful marriage that lasted 14 years. I got a call at work one September morning telling me my daughter found her in bed. She had a massive coronary a half hour after I left and died. I wanted to die with her. I quit work, wouldn’t get out of bed, spent 3 really bad months and then began to come out of it. I had kids and grandkids and in this world God decides when we come and go and He was telling me it wasn’t my time yet. So I came to peace with my life. She was a nursing home nurse and always feared living until she had a stroke or Alzheimers or something so maybe God granted her the wish to go out sudden and spared her that. We didn’t have a perfect marriage because no such beast exists but it was solid and loving. I have known the love of a good woman. I thought the cosmic rules were you only get one.

reneeThen I met Renee. So I’m twice blessed.


January 3, 2009 - Posted by | family | , ,

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