Chad felt the need to take care of himself and ask for help only when he absolutely needed it.. ALWAYS.. They were getting late that evening, but if Pat did not want him to see broken up and torn, that is what she had to do, let him do things his way.. Even without ingesting soap water, he was bubbly she would joke, but that wouldn’t deter him from rinsing the last drop of soap water with such paranoia that it was annoying to watch or hear the water run out in the kitchen sink.. Then he filled up his refillable cup with beer and headed out to the garage.
“It is a ripoff to buy beer at these events, 6 dollars, I’d get a 6 pack for it, ALMOST!” “Agree Chad, but if we miss the concert, it is a 200$ loss and that is worse than the 6 bucks we just saved on your drink.. Right?! And, what are you searching for now?! Isn’t it time to leave??” “Almost there honey, I am just looking for Romeo’s tag..” “Looking? Ha ha.. OK OK, you know I am pulling your leg right, come on, here it is, I think he was playing with it when you took it off of him..” And now it was Romeo’s turn to resist wearing it, it was almost as if he knew what the big bulky leash read, “I am working, don’t pet me” “Are you sure you don’t want to take the train??” “No, no train, I remember the last time on our way back.. The concert crowd was drunk kids, out of control and out-of-bounds.. Oh, can’t deal with that rowdiness!”
As they sat in the car and closed the garage door behind them, Pat spoke, “Thanks for the evening, you know it means a lot! And better, Roger (Waters) is doing The Wall! Chad…………. Matt would have been thrilled, don’t you think?!” The phone rang in her sweater pocket.. “It’s Alyssa. ‘Hi Sweetie, yes, dad and I are headed to the concert now, wait, what, sure, but why? OK, hey, you are the one who is cutting me..!! OK, talk to you later honey.’ She wants me to call her right after the concert, and why can’t she tell me what she is up to, right now?! I don’t get this girl! What do you think it is??” “You should give her a break, you just have to wait 2 hours to hear what she has to say! Be reasonable, Patricia!”
A 30 year long patient of RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) and with 85% blindness in both eyes, Chad had lived with blindness since the day he turned 20.. But, he was the love of her life and the best part, he shared the same tastes in Progressive Rock as she did and loved listening to Pink Floyd on LP records. 9 months after they first laid eyes on each other, his world turned dark with the genetic disease, but that only fostered their love for each other.. He was such a cool guy, he even agreed to be the best man for Alyssa’s ex-fiance in his wedding.. He was just that way, never found anything or anyone troubling.. So, it was not surprising that he was not annoyed by Alyssa’s little mysterious phone call..
“Atlanta traffic is a nightmare, thanks to my eyes, I don’t have to drive. Disabilities bring some advantages.. I can drink beer in the car and of course, like Seinfeld mentions, there is the ability to park in the best parking spots in the lot. He he”
For the cheerful Chad that he was, since the beginning of the year, he had been hiding a hole in his heart.. 13 months ago, to this day, he lost his son, his best friend and beer buddy, Matt, in the Combat Operation at Camp Keating in Kamdesh, Afghanistan. After months of investigations, the Military commanders would come to a conclusion that the there was a systematic breakdown in ground level operation tactics. That was all they got, after months of rejections and appeals for hearing with the Government.. Of course, they got the rugged boots that he wore, the day he died.. Chad would later learn a few more details from leaked US Military Internal investigative reports on the internet. His boy had survived 110 degrees of heat and humidity for 10 days in the camp with ONLY a dozen bottles of drinking water between 22 soldiers – But who was to know that the Taliban was waiting for his own service men to fail him.
In an hour, they reached the grand Philips Arena for the indoor concert. The cardboard bricks wall signifying the theme of the album the band was to play – THE WALL, the band members obscure in the big black backdrop, the orchestra for the sound effects and the ensemble, the stunned crowd.. should make up for a great evening, she thought.. As the concert began, Roger started with his famous words with the most electrifying pyrotechnics that any 4th of July Celebrations would fall short of.. “We don’t need no education We don’t need no thought control”, Faces and numbers began scrolling on the wall from projection equipment in the middle of the arena.. When they showed the date of release of the album, she momentarily thought of her Matt, who was born on the same date 31 years ago. In her long life, Pat had seen it all, love, loss, belonging, depression.. But tonight was special, she realized, it will all be soon over, and she was with the two most special people in her life.. Chad and Romeo.. And she decided to make the most of it!
A little later into the concert, the 10 minute break was a much-needed one.. As she assisted Chad to the front of the line in the men’s toilet station, someone screamed from behind.. “Do you think his pee is a pressing issue than mine.. and just because he is a blind, it doesn’t make it any special..!!” “Karma, would come and bite you in the back, you asshole.”, she muttered under her breath, because she had to know what she was getting into when they ventured into a Rock concert. At the corner, blocking the way, a couple with tattoos and ear and lip piercing were kissing each other.. “How on earth would that be convenient? Ugh.” Again, she went about her business of escorting Chad to the family restroom..
Getting back and finding their way to the seats proved tough. The crowd was hardly in its seats, because the music was such! “Will some woman in this desert land Make me feel like a real man?” And, there she was standing.. her heart thumping to the heavy metal beats of ‘Young Lust’.. She thought every famous man in history should start like this, preach love and lust to the masses, then spill words of peace and brotherhood in their ripe years.. That should work, and the concept might be universal.. To get popular, take a path, a more populist path, then when people are arrested and willing to hear you, tell them what you exactly intended to! That is why Roger Waters was a Hero to her.. The rickety makeshift stairs with extra chairs, were quaking with rhythmic effects and that was sending shocks up her body through her spine.. At 49, she was having an orgasm in the middle of 15000 spectators, while Romeo was licking her feet and she was rubbing shoulders with a dozen strangers, while swaying and clapping to the music.. She was a little embarrassed to go through such emotions.. The energy was palpable, the crowd was young, the enthusiasm was wild and the sound effects gave goose bumps.. Roger bent down as if in a head bow, like a Namaste, and sang the most real song of them all.. “Bring The Boys Back Home”.. “Don’t leave the children on their own, no, no. Bring the boys back home.” And then it happened, as the concert came to a close..The ‘helicopter’ lights whirring above and the light shining on her head.. The crowd went crazy and before she could dismiss the attention, Pat saw the picture on THE WALL.. It read the words, that she would remember forever..
Sgt. Maj. Matthew Patterson: We salute, an US National Hero, a man of bravery and extraordinary achievements.
Fort Carson’s 9th Brigade Combat Team Born: Nov 30th, 1979 Killed in combat with enemy forces: Oct 3rd, 2009 Camp Keating, Kamdesh, Afghanistan.
His dying words, as his ammunition was out run and the only communication to the outside world was a satellite phone.. ‘I’m telling you that if they don’t get here f****** soon, we’re all going to f****** die’, he shouted, under heavy sounds of gunfire.
Pat realized the crowd was cheering for Matt and so she thrived in the honor and hugged Chad with tears of joy and overwhelming sorrow..!! That night she found out that Alyssa had sent in her brother’s details to The Wall tour campaign to be honored in a dedication segment, called “Fallen Loved Ones”. And for that she was grateful that Alyssa cut her conversation short earlier in the evening. The surprise was truly worth the experience.. And for that she was honored and proud of the son .. and the daughter..
Dedication: To each and every service man – past, present and future – in any part of the world, and to family and friends of them, who pray for their safe return every day.. With love and gratitude for their sacrifices..
A few of my beloved readers have asked me time and again to help them draw a line, pointing the difference between fact and fiction in my stories.
Pat: Inspired by my husband’s love for PinkFloyd;
Chad and Romeo: Inspired by two real life characters in my life;
Roger Waters and The Wall: As a first time attendee to his concert in 2010, fueled and inspired the story.
Camp Keating in Kamdesh, Afghanistan: Real life tragic incident involving US Military Personnel.
Image Courtesy: When not specified or linked back: Iraqwarheroes.com. The photos have been blurred to protect and respect privacy.