It’s over now (for me anyway), and I must say that I am relieved.
Thursday’s trip, I think I covered already.
I asked the guard at the gate where should I park. He replied that to avoid the main lots and park by the chapel, then he gave me directions. I drove right to it and sure enough, there was parking.
I took my morning blood pressure pill, and a good slug of water, and proceeded to where I heard all the noise.
The first event Thursday was the Airmen’s run where all the individual flights of graduates ran from I don’t know the hell where, and singing their ‘jodies’ around in front of the spectators. I was right on the curve and took video with my camera of my son’s flight, even though I didn’t see him. They came back around and I shot video them again; still not seeing him.
They disappeared back to I don’t the hell where, and the crowd dispersed. I went inside to the auditorium and a/c where there was a briefing for half an hour.
The place was packed.
We dispersed, and this time I went into the bleachers…imagine a three sided stadium, open on one end where the troops entered and exited onto a much larger field; paved with a running track painted on it, several acres big. I could not see where the pavement ended.
Now it’s about 10:00am and the Texas sun is beginning to bear down. I was on the wrong side to be out of the sun, but decided to stay where I was since I already had a seat. The shaded side filled up shoulder to shoulder.
Our side filled up and you know, there are always the Johnny-come-latelys that never seem to be on time got stranded in the areas between the bleachers. boo hoo
There was a ceremony for the top 10%; graduates recognized for exceeded expectations in PT, classroom, and other areas.
Then the flights marched in formation in fatigues. It was quite impressive, 742 grades divided into about 15 flights.
It was hotter than hell, and the sweat ran down my arms, chest and back.
I was amazed at the other folks from out of state that complained about the heat…”would you like a napkin to wipe off the sweat? this feels like the Finnish bath back home…”
After the ceremony, I got down off the bleachers as fast as I could to go find my boy on the other side of the field. I walked around, looking for him or his mother.
I walked all the perimeter, then cut diagonally across from all corners, at times breaking up happy families that got to be together…nothin’.
I got mad and thought “fuck this shit” and headed to leave.
My phone rang, it was ex-wife’s ID.
It was my boy.
They had gone off to the mini-mall, which I discovered later was the PX…not my fault.
I met them at the food court, and they were kind enough to offer me some pizza ( I was starved. I sat with him, his mother, his gramma for a good while. (it was now around noon).
Fortunately, my ex and I have a fairly good relationship, and my ex mother in law is extremely cordial to me.
We went around for a little shopping and ended up sitting in gramma’s Toyota Highlander for probably 45 min.
They had absolutely no plans except to pick up his brother (my other son) but the arrangements were so off the cuff that I wanted nothing to do with it, so I had them take me to my truck where I bid them good bye until the next morning.
I got home by four, and prepared for my brother’s arrival sometime between six and seven.
I gave up my afternoon nap, and prepared some brisket, beans, and dessert.
He arrived about 6:30, and after we ate, we proceeded to drink heavily, and turned in about 11:30, having to be up at 5:00am.
We were up at 5 where I showered (you must understand that when I am alone at the ranch I rarely shower two days in a row; more like twice a week).
I asked my brother on the way out the door “do you have your insurance, day pass, and license?”
“Of course I do” he replied, almost annoyed.
I stood at the door “should I take my keys?” I thought ‘no’ because the house has a keyless electronic lock so I did not take my keys.
We were out the door by 5:30. We took a different route than what I did as brother was driving.
I don’t know how far we got…maybe 30 miles, when awoke from my reverie and said “I forgot my wallet!”
“Are you fucking kidding me man?”
I shook my head shamefully “no.”
He hung a U and we went all the way back to the ranch where I got my wallet from the same drawer I keep my keys in…
So we retraced our steps and hit San Antonio at the 7:00 rush, which did not turn out near as bad as I let on.
Other brother was already there waiting for us, and we proceeded to the visitor center where the buses hauled people to the parade grounds (different than yesterday).
We waited at the bus stop and when the bus showed up, it turned out that it was for handicapped folks only.
That was very disappointing. In X’s current physical shape, the walk that ensued would have been compared to climbing K2.
We crossed Hwy 90 on the pedestrian walkway, then short cut down the embankment (quite a feat wearing Sketchers Shape Ups…not meant for going down steep embankments for walking long distances).
X, now fully winded, is gasping for breath and unable to speak but kept plodding, trudging behind my brothers, who are both very physically fit.
Another hike to the parade grounds. We got to hike past a bunch of old prop planes, of which one was a B-29.
Plodding on, we begin passing the bleachers, many sets of them and all full. Plod on.
We finally found some empty seat about ten rows up at the far end of the parade grounds.
Some folks were kind enough to hop down (the side of the bleachers was open for the first six or eight rows.
Youngest brother went first, and before I even got there, I knew I was in trouble. These guys could step up onto the bleachers, and continue to go up the steps with no handrail! I had to crawl up.
It took me ten minutes before I could speak. I dared not drink any water I had brought for fear of barfing on the lady in front of me.
The ex-wife was sitting on the bleachers next to us and spotted us.
As usual, the sun beat on us directly during the ceremony. Much applause, standing, sitting, etc.
The grads marched on to the grounds in formation, much like the day before. It was quite impressive. It lasted about an hour, and we hooked up with our son, and next stop was barracks.
My younger brother volunteered to go back, get the car, and pick us up at a lot close to the parade grounds.
Thank you brother.
It was still a walk to the lot, but nothing like climbing up the embankment…”hey man, there were old ladies climbing up that hill!”
“What’s your point?” clutching my collapsible baton. It didn’t matter. I woulda collapsed after the first blow.
So we waited and got a ride. Nice. I still hadn’t completely caught my breath when I found out we had to climb 3 flights of stairs. Breathless, and now I met his drill instructors.
Very nice men, and then they told us that because of my son’s motivation in the PT area, their flight was given a town pass (instead of a base pass) on Sunday. They had the best PT score overall. His mile and a half improved 5 minutes from seventeen down to twelve minutes.
One of them said he got up everyday and ran with him, and watched his progression over the seven weeks.
I was still dead after the stair climb, and now we were done, an had to fight six hundred other folks to go down.
Again, my brother got the car and brought it to me so I wouldn’t have to walk.
From there, my two brothers and I left, as my son had a brief safety meeting, and we were all gonna meet at a local Mexican food place “Michelada’s”.
We dropped off one brother to get his truck, and we three hooked up at the restaurant, and waited for the others. By now, my other son had joined the group, along with their step dad, wife’s cousin, and aunt; ten of us altogether.
Good food, cold beer, good service, and we hung there for two and half hours, before we split and said goodbye to everyone.
Saturday and Sunday were day passes. My ex’s entourage had no idea what they wanted to do, as did my son. There were rules; he was not allowed to go outside the Anderson loop (which prevented him from coming to the ranch) no swimming, no drinking, no driving, no smoking, among many others.
Whatever plans, they did not ask me to join them, so I bowed out. Both my brothers returned home Saturday. I slept. I lost five pounds. That’s a good start.