Today’s daily post topic is: who will you remember this day?
As many of my rabid readers, friends and fans know, I was a military brat. My step father, Michael Gibson came into our lives when I was about eight years old. He was a huge influence in my brother, Ryan and my life. He and my mom, Donna, married in 1979 and had another child. My brother, Chris.
We called our step-dad Mike. I guess it was because we still had a relationship with our dad. He didn’t seem to mind.
Mike was a United States Marine. He was also a big time college football player and had the Oakland Raiders interested in him but he decided on the Corps. Us kids thought that was so cool. When he came into our lives he was just a Second Lieutenant and stationed at Cherry Point (North Carolina). My earliest memories is my mom and I going to visit him on a road trip in an old MG. It was an eight hour drive in the pouring rain and here I was eight or so leaning out of the car window wiping off the windshield as we drove 55 miles per hour because one of the wipers broke off.
When mom and I arrived for the weekend visit I can recall both Mike and I feeling a bit nervous. He around kids for really the first time and me for having a new man in my life. I also remember Mike giving me a small wire-bound dictionary with an inscription and his signature. What an odd gift for a little kid but I can remember using that dictionary well into junior high school until the pages started to fall out and get lost.
While Mike did his best to teach us kids family values and become good men, I did not realize what he was trying to do until long after I had moved out on my own.
One of my best memories is how we used to sit at the little kitchen table for dinner at our home in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Mom would always have dinner ready right around the time Peter Jennings was finishing up his broadcast on the nightly news. Us kids would be sitting there knife and fork in hand. But we knew the rules…
We all knew that we couldn’t eat until, first: mom was sitting down and Mike proclaiming– “dig in boys!”
We all grew apart after high school and that saddens me today. I guess you can say life got in the way.
Mike was a tough Marine. He made it thru the ranks and eventually retired as a Major. But being tough cost him his life. Mike suffered from colitis for years. He refused to go to the doctors much and I believe that without the medical supervision that was required, he developed colon cancer.
I saw Mike for the last time in the late summer of 2000 when I travelled to North Carolina for a visit. He did not look well. He was sitting most of the time in his office with all of his trophies and awards, and his Marine Corps swords that he proudly displayed. He stayed in his lazy boy under the covers watching T.V. even though it was near 100 degrees outside.
Mike passed away May 23, 2001 at his home with my mom by his side. He is buried on Memorial Day at Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery. He was only 51.
It has been a decade since Mike has passed. I still think about him almost every day. It’s funny because I often use many of the things he taught us with my kids. I see so many similarities. Mike came into our lives and into a ready-made family. Similar to how I did mine. I never thought I would be “like my father” but I truly am. I am doing my best to raise my kids just like Mike did us.
In just a couple years, our middle son, Tyler has intentions of joining the U.S. Marines and he will become part of a brotherhood that shaped my life. My wife, Michele and I are so proud. I can not wait to attend his boot camp graduation and shake his hand. I will say a prayer for Mike that day too and let him know that his step-son did listen to him and did his best to raise his family up right.
So on this Memorial Day it is a day of rememberance. A day we should remmeber all of those who served and sacrficied for this great country. For me it is also about remembering…
Major Michael Gibson, USMC