Kenny had been a friend since high school, I first met him at the beginning of my sophomore year when he started attending the same high school as I did. We both enjoyed basketball and spent many hours shooting hoops.
We soon developed a friendship and even though he was a year younger than I, our paths crossed often. He had several brothers and sisters and they all were some of the nicest people I had ever known.
After high school, we stayed in touch and even worked at the same company for a while, carpooling to and from work when we were on the same shift.
This was at the height of the Vietnam War, so we both joined the Air Force Reserve and thus we spent time together on weekends defending our country.
We both married, had kids and our families enjoyed many social events together.
As the Vietnam War continued, our Air Force Wing was activated prior to the Tet offensive and we were scheduled to leave the first week of May in 1968. However, three days before our departure, I was deactivated and didn’t go to Vietnam, however Kenny and a lot of my friends did.
They were relatively safe, stationed in DaNang, they saw little action and all returned home safely. After returning home, life resumed as normal.
Kenny still enjoyed playing basketball and thus played in a league once a week.
A few years later, he developed a condition where his lower lip suddenly became numb, and soon the condition was spreading into other parts of his body. At first they attributed it to him taking a blow to the mouth during a basketball game, and later the thought was that he may have been exposed to agent orange in Vietnam, to my knowledge there was no evidence of that ever found.
Soon he was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous hall of fame baseball player who had contracted the same disease many years previous. Kenny’s condition deteriorated rapidly and it was soon realized he would not recover.
Having a family of 6 children, this was difficult, and every day you could see him deteriorating. After a time, he could no longer speak and had to communicate with a pencil and paper, his writing was getting worse and after a while it was hard to read his messages.
Through all of this I never heard him complain or feel sorry for himself once, he always had a smile on his face. The last time I saw him, he was still the same old Kenny, taking life as it came and smiling.
I belonged to the Masonic Lodge, and Kenny, being Catholic was a faithful member of the Knights of Columbus, and often times our conversations would turn to one of those fine organizations.
After a time, the inevitable occurred. At the time of Kenny’s passing, I was in Batesville across from the Knights of Columbus building when suddenly I heard a voice coming from the second story of the K of C building . I turned and looked that way, and there was Kenny, sitting on the window ledge shouting and waving, “I’m here.”
When I returned home that night, there was a message on my voicemail telling me Kenny had passed away at about the same time I saw him on the ledge.
Rest in Peace, Kenny.
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Gary has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature, landscapes and studying native cultures. Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt, the Canary Islands, much of the Caribbean. He has studied the Mayan Cultures in Central America and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!
He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.
For more information and a link to his hardcover and Ebooks, and contact information: please check his website, http://www.journeysthrulife.com.
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