Tag: USMC

Music Association – Into The Mystic

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Music is genuinely a part of my soul. Like reading or writing, music can raise my blood pressure, bring me to laughter, or bring me to tears. Most people I have discussed this with hold the same relationship with music. Whether it’s the lyrics or the musical arrangement itself, it resonates with us. We have workout playlists, mellow playlists, rainy day playlists, and so on. I would imagine the lists are as complex as human emotion.

For me personally, a particular song, or sometimes an entire album or artist, often has some association with it: a person, a place, an event, a mood, an object, or a particular time in my life. Sometimes that connection is stronger depending upon the magnitude of what I am associating it with.  For example, there is a Creed song titled Arms Wide Open. My association, and an easy one, was my anxiety of becoming a father for the first time. AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock? My Gibson SG. Fleetwood Mac’s Silver Spring takes me back to an airport where I said goodbye to a girl I was dating so she could return home to an ex-boyfriend who had pleaded for one more chance. Iron Maiden’s Wasted Years: long story, lol. Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters: my wife. I could go on and on with this.

I haven’t posted for a few weeks because I had a death in the family. My uncle passed away in February and his death hit me harder than most.  I wrote a tribute to him HERE because I needed to write but then spent the next few weeks trying to comfort others all while sitting over 2000 miles away. His service was last weekend and most everyone in my family made it to Arizona with the exception of me and few other relatives and friends. I couldn’t go for a number of reasons and it was tearing me up.  Throughout the weekend, I got texts and updates from numerous family members including pictures: the funeral service cars being led by a group of motorcycles, the bikers lining the walkway with American Flags they’d had folded up on their bikes, two young Marines folding a flag, and then pics of family members and friends. They made me a part of it despite their own grief. That was last weekend. I had cried the morning my mother texted me he had passed and I cried when my sister sent me the pictures of the Marines folding the flag but other than that, I have been a bit numb and not really dealing with this.  That was until last night.

Thursday, my uncle’s fiancé texted me asking me about the town I live in and if it was in what’s called the Southern Tier, in NY. I replied yes. She had friended me on Facebook and I noticed she had gone to college at a University that is located about 15 miles from me. I was going to mention it to her earlier but felt it wasn’t the time because she was obviously grieving. It turns out she is from this area and was born about 25 miles from where I presently live and grew up in neighboring towns. Her mother and two of her kids were born in the same town I live in now. The same town my wife was born in and my reason for now living in NY. And it hit me, what are the odds that a boy and his uncle, who both grew up in a small mining town in Arizona along the Mexican border would find their soul mates from the same small rural county in New York? Crazy.

So back to last night. People have been continually posting things on my Uncle’s Facebook page.  I’ve read most of them but somehow missed two posts.  One of them was re-posted by my uncle’s fiancé, thanking the man who had posted it. It was a tribute he had done for my Uncle with photographs of his time in Vietnam along with an old CCR song playing in the background.  Last night I decided to watch it again and started to get emotional. When it ended, I noticed the same guy had done one more so I watched it and completely lost it.  I don’t think I have cried like that in years.  Maybe I needed it.

So… Fortunate Son and Into The Mystic now have a face, a time, a place, and so much more.

Meet my uncle – Charlie Sotelo:

 

If We Were Having Coffee #2

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.” – Sai Baba

Because I don’t know what else to do in this moment.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how in awe I was of you the first time you came home from Vietnam. I was so young then and didn’t fully understand why you were gone but I remember your crisp uniform and the foreign coins you handed me. You were still in your teens yet had aged.

If we were having coffee, I would thank you for being there for me and my brother when my parents divorced. You filled a void that made a cruel situation bearable. I remember playing in the front yard only to be interrupted by the sound of engines and chains clanging as you and your friend rode down our street to deliver the go-cart and minibike you had bought us, your boyish giggling to my mother’s protests that we were too young. The weekly Rat Patrol adventures in your Mustang, the rides in your patrol car, the constant showering of presents, the groceries to help my mom out… you were always there for us.

Years later, you got the bar and gave me my first steady job. I was only thirteen and had to walk up to the highway and hitchhike there each morning. A miner and customer of yours always stopped to pick me up, one day telling me to skip the long walk up to the highway and he would just pick me up at the end of my street. In addition to my weekly pay, you told me I could have free soda, a bar sandwich, a pack of smokes occasionally, and play as much pool as I wanted.  All I had to do was show up and get my job done cleaning up so the bar would be ready each day before you opened. I started missing an occasional day or two each week and after plenty of warnings, you had to let me go. I was so ashamed that I had let you down.  My first steady job and I was fired by my own uncle.  I’ve never had a problem getting up early again nor have I been fired since.  You taught me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I never felt worthy as an adult to attend the reunion you had with the remaining scouts from your company.  It was a war I never really understood yet learned more over the three hours I was privy to listen to all of your stories, sharing both your laughter and tears with your Marine brothers. I was honored.

If we were having coffee, we would probably laugh at how something we both initially despised (social media) let us both keep up with our daily lives despite the miles that separated us. You still encouraging me like you always have, you getting to know my wife and children and now encouraging them, you only being a mouse click, email, or text message away. You introduced me to your daughter, my cousin and her beautiful family. I shared in your joy at finally finding love this late in life. I would also tell you I agree to disagree on many of your political and social rants but thank you for challenging my thought process. But you already knew this and can laugh with me about it.

If we could have just one more coffee, I would stand up and hug you and tell you I love you for everything you have ever been to me: a big brother, a substitute father, a teacher, and the most caring Uncle I could have ever been blessed with.

I love you Uncle Charlie and look forward to meeting up with you again in that next dimension.

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Charlie Sotelo August 8, 1945 – February 21, 2015

 

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