Monday, October 25, 2010

Leif With Rowboats in Japan - Circa 1980-1981 - Age Six

It's important to label photos. After years, it becomes hard to remember just where and when photos were taken, and as the generations pass, who is in them, but if you take a lot of pictures, finding time to do that is a real challenge. I've tried to label my photos, for the most part, or at least keep the ones from the pre-digital age in envelopes that are labeled with date and place.

These two photos of Leif were taken in Japan by his dad, probably in 1980 or early 1981, when he was five or six years old. He was such a sweet and vulnerable-looking child then, but we saw only how beautiful he was, not that he was in some way fragile inside. He always put up such a brave and stalwart front, always.

I know these pictures were taken on one of our Saturday trips to see some area within driving distance of Camp Zama, Japan, and I think this is on a lake, not an ocean inlet or the sea, but beyond that, I just don't remember. Obviously, it was cold. I think there's even a tiny bit of snow on the ground by the boat.

Leif loved boats and loved water and the sea. Of course, he loved just about anything that would "go," any kind of vehicle, the faster the better.

I heard someone say on a television program tonight that speed is the only modern feeling that man has, that all the others have been with us for centuries, and it is a major thrill. I know Leif loved that thrill from the time he was very young and it only grew as he matured.

I don't think we actually went out on the water in either of these boats. I think we were just walking along the shoreline and Leif found them irresistible.

I wonder now, if it was in some way hard for him to live in Florida and not have access to boats and getting out on the water. So many of the things he loved were barred to him due to finances, but even if he'd been able to do them, I wonder if he would have unless he had found a companion, a love, to enjoy it with him.

Tonight on 60 Minutes they were reporting on people whose unemployment benefits are running out after 99 weeks, and I thought that in a real sense, Leif was on the first wave of people affected by the economic downturn, not that he lost his job, but that he was caught in a spiral of debts he could not pay. How terrifying that must be. He never admitted to us either that he was in debt again, or that it bothered him. He remained stalwart, steadfastly insisting that he was all right, that he could handle it.

I think about that when I read reports of how the military wants to try to reduce the number of active duty and veteran suicides and I wonder how they are going to help these people if they are like Leif and will not admit they have such problems.

I miss Leif every day. I miss the boy and I miss the man. I see him in every motorcyclist that passes me going way too fast. There can never be any real resolution to our feelings about his death, but I can both smile and feel sad when I look at these photos or my beautiful little kindergarten age boy.

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