Here I am, the Television is off, only one light on in the living room, it is quiet, the dog is asleep next to me, and my wife is off to bed and fast asleep. I cannot sleep right now. My body just feels out of sorts. My legs hurt, I feel bloated, and I am uncomfortable. I have checked every sight I watch and looked at the Facebook posts from the groups I follow.
My mind turns to old ships and old shipmates. I remember the places we have been, the things we have done, and the accomplishments that made us special. Gun shoots that went well and those that did not. Ports of call, and nights at sea. Rough weather and calm seas. I can see their faces, hear their voices, smell the odors of the ship in my nostrils. I feel the rocking of the ship under my feet and I am at home. USS Mullinnix, USS Stein, USS Leftwich, USS Caron, USS Coral Sea, all a part of my past and a part of my todays. I am much more comfortable in this place than I am in the world that I live in today.
I see something on the television that reminds me of a memory of my past and I chuckle. Or a name pops into my mind and I can see that shipmate and remember where we were when... Most of what I think of means nothing to those around me, but it brings great comfort to me. You see, there was a time when I did great things, lead men into danger, and challenged my mental and physical abilities to their limits! There was a time when my energy was limitless, my strength, epic, and my endurance unending. There were days that went on for 48 and 72 hours. Meals eaten on the run, and dangers faced that now seem superhuman to those who never saw what we actually did. I could do almost anything and did. Now nothing works as it did. My mind or my body.
There was a time, before my memory failed and my body weakened, that I was a part of something bigger than me. An organization that stood for Duty, Honor, Commitment. I served a purpose.
Now, changing the gas bottle on my grill tires me out and I cannot remember the password for my accounts. Then, I remembered the electronic and hydraulic prints for the most advanced Naval Gun of it's time. Now, I only remember what I was and lament at what I have become.
If you would have told me, 20 years ago, that I would be in this physical and mental state, I would have told you I would rather be dead. Now, I cling to life, to my memories, to what I was, knowing that time is precious and short.
Doctors, pills, tests, diagnosis, all lead to one place. I am a science experiment now. Something for the medical community to try their theories on. I can see their minds work as they think, what pill can we try now? They know none of them really work, but they enjoy the challenge of testing their theories on me.
The Doctors remind me of myself when I was trying to diagnose why the Gun quit firing. The only difference is, I was in danger of blowing up the entire ship and killing countless men. The Doctors are only in danger of killing me and they know I will no longer blow up. It seems that I am inert!
Oh well, I still have my memories to cherish.