The Charlie Bravo Story


Dad here; after a few warm days at the Casa, winter has returned with a vengeance, causing the canines to refuse to leave the cozy confines of the bed. Of course, “cozy” could be a synonym for “claustrophobic” if one is the meat in the dog sandwich, but who am I to complain? It’s obvious that I exist only to do the bidding of these hairy ingrates.

I remember a few years back when I had a friend and coworker who had two granddaughters, one with Down’s Syndrome; this issue was compounded by the fact that the mother of these babies was, well, as worthless as a turd in a punchbowl, at least in my humble diagnosis, but who am I to judge, even though I just did. Drugs, the scourge of a generation, leaving my friend to raise children at an age when she should have been considering relaxing just a bit.

Then the unspeakable happened, and my friend contracted an aggressive form of cancer; if life was fair, there wouldn’t be any handicapped parking spots, but this was beyond understanding. Towards the end of her battle, I went to see her in the hospital, totally unprepared to render aid and comfort, my verbal handgun completely empty of ammunition.

I had to lean in much closer than I am comfortable with to understand her hoarse whispers from beneath the oxygen mask, and I remember seeing flecks of red in the corners of her mouth. At first I thought that it was the remnants of old lipstick, then I realized that it was dried blood. I could see the terror in her eyes, and I asked her if she was afraid of dying; she shook her head, and whispered:

“My babies”.

She wasn’t concerned for herself, but for the welfare of her granddaughters after she was gone. I remember words filling my previously empty mind, that it was time for her to release her concern for the babies and “consider the lillies”, assuring her that God would not abandon the least of these after she was gone, and it might be time to release this burden and look to her own. After we talked a bit more, I asked her if she felt any peace, and she whispered through the mask,

“a little bit”.

Again, words I didnt know I had; I told her that, although that it might be but a small amount of peace, not to discard it as insignificant, but to build on it, and greater peace would follow.

A few days later she was gone. I was at the graveside ceremony when I spotted a black police officer holding two white babies, one with Down’s; I found out later that he and his wife had adopted the girls. I would love to seek them out, see how they’re doing, but sometimes it’s best to leave a situation as it stands and move on.

So in my own situation; the last few months have been a battle. Depression is a black dog that seems to bite harder and cling longer as we age; the demands of an ever changing workplace, family and church dynamics, you know the drill. Many of the situations that we have considered status quo for our entire lives seeming to be now changing at an ever increasing pace. Especially during the dark days of winter, it’s way too easy to come home, tie off the vein and inject the drug of a new generation, “Netflix and chill”; it’s not for naught that it’s now known as “binge-watching”.

So, the black fog’s teeth have been firmly affixed for some time now. I was going through the motions of another joyless day and was approaching the part of the day every salesperson dreads, “toilet-paper time”; you know, “no job is finished until the paperwork is done”. I decided to make one more call; when I walked through the door, I was greeted by a six week old wolf puppy, and the receptionist was also a follower of Charlie Bravo’s page; talk about a mood lifter! Not because of the ego boost of being recognized as “dad”, but because it was a small sign that I might be actually making a difference.

Then I had to think back to my own words to my friend dying of cancer all those years ago, not to discount the small things, but to build on them. My own cancer might be the cancer of self doubt, tiny killer organisms that can only combated on their own molecular level, not with large, magnanimous actions, but with small, repetitious ones.

And before you know it, this too shall pass; spring will be here, the van will be finished and Charlie and I will be back on the road.

Oh, the van? You caught that, eh? That’s a developing story for another day.

See you on the road.

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