Semper Fi

My 93 year old father is in Hospice.  He has been there about a week, longer than the family expected.  But as I said to my brother Mark tonight, not surprising, really.  For he is a fighter, still.  Never defeated in varsity wrestling at the U of Md.  Almost 30 years in the USMC, retiring a full colonel, combat vet of WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam.  So he continues to fight his last battle.  I visited him earlier today, and at one point said to him, now semi-conscious, “Semper Fi, Colonel!”  The door to his room was open, and from across the hall, I heard a faint but distinctive answer, “Semper Fi!”  I got up, and looked across the hall.  There was, as the saying goes, a mountain of a man, about my age, but looked like he could have been an NFL tackle.  Still basically fit, striding toward me with his hand out, saying, “Is your father a Marine?”  He didn’t say “was”, for once a Marine, always a Marine.  And he had his Viet Nam service cap on.  I shook his hand, and said, “Yes.  Paul McNeil, Colonel, United States Marine Corps.  And you?”  “Just call me Woody…and I was not even close to being a Colonel.”  I replied, “That doesn’t really matter Woody, you are a Marine.  And I can see you are still proud of it.”  Yes, I am”, he replied.  “Thank your father for his service for me.”  I will, Woody, and thank you for yours”.  We talked a bit more, and I learned he was there visiting his uncle.  We talked about the Corps, and I at some point said something about the Marines being part of the Department of the Navy.  And he smiled and said, “Yeah, you know what department”.  I had never served, but I am enough of a Marine’s son to know the answer to that one.  “Yes, the Men’s Department”.  Woody and I laughed, and hugged, and went back to the rooms of our loved one.  No offense to those who served in the Navy.  But, Semper Fi!”


About John Paul McNeil

New to blogging. New to being retired (my daughter says I retired too early). I say not soon enough, as so much music was waiting to come out. Thoughts which turn to poems which turn to songs. The Earth is one rich theme. But also want to theme this search for where the Music, and the Words, and the Songs come from. And go.
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