Today is off to a really bad start.
I went out to have my first cigarette of the day, and as I leaned on the back fence, enjoying the sunrise, I felt something wet hit me on the forehead. Skies were perfectly clear; I had been nailed by a passing bird.
I was first disgusted, then angry, then amused as I remembered Val Jahnke, my best friend in elementary school.
It was in third or possibly fourth grade when Val stood before the class and recited:
Birdy, birdy in the sky
Why'd you do it in my eye?
It didn't hurt me, I didn't cry
But, Boy I'm glad that cows can't fly
After coming in and cleaning up, it occurred to me that I hadn't heard from Val in a while. When I checked, I learned that he had died January 8th of 2014.
Val and I got drafted within a week of each other, and shortly before reporting, he and his wife went to dinner with Honey and I. We agreed that we would keep our heads down, do our duty and get out. I can still remember him saying "One thing I won't be is a hero."
It didn't quite work that way - Val went to Viet Nam as a medic, and picked up two Purple Hearts and the Silver Star.
After the service, Val moved to Louisiana where he became a financial success as the owner of a company that supplied Bingo Balls to VFW Halls and churches. It would never have occurred to me that you could even make a living doing that, but it was the sort of thing that fit his personality perfectly.