Monday, October 6, 2014

THE LAST DANCE


 Dear Friends,
I have often wondered why it is that Fate allows our paths to cross with the paths of certain others, or why it is that certain people enter our lives.  Some come into our lives for an extended period of time, for years or even decades, and contribute absolutely nothing positive, worthwhile or constructive to our existence.  Then there are others who flash through our lives like a shooting star on a clear night, lasting only a brief, fleeting moment, and then, almost as suddenly as they have appeared, they are gone, disappearing forever, but leaving an indelible impression seared upon our memories that will last as long as we do.  In September of 2013, a shooting star in the form of an elderly lady crossed my path…
The only time I ever saw her was in the late summer of 2013 on the Greek island of Crete.    I had gone to a little taverna in the small seaside village of Amoudara to listen to live bouzouki music.  As I sat at my table listening to the music and watching others dance, including several non-Greek tourists who were attempting to feign knowing how to do the sirtaki, I saw her move onto the dance floor.  She was an older English woman, and I later learned that she would turn eighty years of age the following week.  Some women are able to glide across the dance floor with all the grace of a swan upon the calmest of waters, not even leaving so much as a ripple behind them; however, she moved rather slow and perhaps even a bit animated, not completely unlike a mechanical windup toy doll.  But, as she danced, she radiated a smile which gave all indications that she was really enjoying herself and truly having the time of her life!  It was at that moment I noticed a lady sitting at an adjacent table who was wiping tears from her eyes.  Then, a Dutch gentleman at my table, signaled for me to move closer to him so he could whisper something in my ear.  “The old lady”, he said, motioning discreetly with his hand in her direction, “is quite sick.  She is dying of cancer and has less than a year to live.  She has traveled here with her daughter for one last holiday together.”  My eyes moved from my Dutch friend back to the dance floor and to the old lady.  Her smile belied that there anything wrong with her and that she was nothing other than an older lady enjoying herself on vacation.  When the musicians had finished that song and as she was walking back toward her table, I got up, approached her daughter and told her how much I enjoyed watching her mother dance.  The old lady walked up about then and with a strong and commanding voice that was full of self-assurance asked, “Where are you from?”  I smiled and responded, “I’m from the United States.”  “Oh, really?  And what part?” she continued.  "I’m from the state of Tennessee,” I answered.  “Yes?  Well, I have a sister who lives near Nashville.  Next year I’m coming to see you!”   And with that she winked and then gave me a good-natured jab in the ribs with her elbow.  I couldn’t help but smile at someone who had the courage to enjoy herself with such a high degree of enthusiasm and exuberance, especially when facing such a limited and uncertain future.
After sitting and resting through a couple of songs, she was approached by a much younger Irishman of about fifty with short-cropped red hair and green eyes, who walked to the old  lady’s  table and asked her for the next dance.  It was a slow song…perhaps a Greek ballad or possibly even a Cretan love song.  At any rate, they danced with their arms around each other as their feet moved and shuffled with the slow beat and tempo of the music.  Then, when the Irishman had guided the old lady so that her back was toward those sitting at the tables, he slid both his hands down her back and squeezed her buttocks!   I could hear audible gasps and the sound of air being sucked in between teeth from those sitting around tables near the edge of the dance area.  However, giving no indication that anything was amiss and with the unflappable grace and style of a true English lady, she then steered the Irishman so that his back was now facing those seated at tables, reached  around and squeezed his ass hard enough that I thought his  green-Irish eyes would pop from their sockets!  There was a look of utter surprise on the Irishman’s face as an immediate eruption of laughter bellowed forth from those who witnessed what had just taken place.  She had turned the tables on the Irishman with the poise and dignity of a real lady!  As it turned out, that was the last dance of the evening, and quite possibly the last dance ever for the old woman.
The following morning as I was preparing coffee in my apartment and looking out my window, I saw the old lady, her daughter, and another gentleman (perhaps her son, or maybe her daughter’s husband) pass by headed in the direction of the beach.  When I returned to Crete this year (2014), I kept looking for the old lady, hoping that somehow she had been able to cheat death, or at least keep it at bay for another year.  But I never saw her again.
On that warm Cretan night in September of 2013, an elderly English lady taught me something vitally important about living and dying and about strength of character.  I can only hope that when my life is drawing to a close and as the final curtain is about to fall, I can face whatever lies ahead with that same dignity, grace, and courage as the old English lady.  At that point,  perhaps, like her, I’ll be prepared to dance…The Last Dance.
 P.S.:  Your comments on this  article are welcomed.  You can leave a comment simply by clicking on "comment" at the end of this article.  Your comments will be posted as soon as they can be reviewed.  Thanks.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,
Bob Armistead

 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"WHAT IS A BED?" or "YOUNG MEN DON'T CRY"


Dear Friends,

When most of us were stationed on Crete in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, we had arrived as young men in our late teens and early twenties.  Most of us thought that because we were men (actually, we were little more than just kids), we had to display a certain bravado and toughness.  This meant rarely exhibiting our emotions or our feelings for fear that it might be viewed as a sign of weakness.  Therefore, we did all that we could to conceal any show of our true feelings in order to avoid the ridicule of our peers – a ridicule that could often be brutal and relentless.  However, with the passage of decades, sometimes I now look back on some of the events that took place and can’t help but feel emotions that I would have been loath to exhibit then.  With that having been said, I submit the following remembrance:

After my arrival on Crete in December of 1968 and having been assigned to “Charlie Flight”, I made a very conscious effort to “fit in” with the rest of the guys on Charlie Flight and was eager to participate in any activities with my “Charlie Flight brothers” outside of the compound or off base.  So, in the early spring of 1969 when it was announced that “Charlie Flight” would be delivering a load of surplus bunk beds, mattresses, desks, and other assorted used furnishings to an orphanage in the little mountain village of Anogia on Crete, I was excited about the prospect of participating in such a worthwhile project.  This effort was led by TSgt. Walter J. Williams, III (also known as “Willie”, “Bud” and “The Big Kahuna”).  We left Iraklion Air Station in an odd assortment of P.O.V’s. (privately owned vehicles), along with an Air Force flatbed truck loaded with the disassembled bunk beds, mattresses, desks, etc.  We must have looked like a modern-day wagon train as we slowly wound our way up along the narrow, twisting, and sometimes rock-strewn and sometimes unpaved road to Anogia.  Upon our arrival in Anogia our little caravan of vehicles was surrounded by the villagers as they escorted us to the orphanage.  Once at the orphanage, the flatbed truck was unloaded and all of the surplus items taken inside for re-assembly.  There were either two or three interpreters who accompanied us to act as a liaison between us and the local villagers.  As I recall, there was a large dormitory-style room where several of us were tasked with the job of re-assembling the bunk beds.  The room was cold and rather barren looking...almost harsh.  I sat down with a pile of assorted bunk bed parts and started putting this metallic jig-saw puzzle back together again.  Using a pair of pliers, a wrench and a screwdriver, I was putting the parts back together, when I noticed a small boy with dark hair and even darker eyes that sparkled like black diamonds, wearing a tattered sweater and pants with holes at the knees, watching me intently from just a few feet away.  He was barefoot and standing on the cold stone floor.  By his side, he was holding some type of stuffed animal that was worn and ragged, and looked like it was older than the little boy - it was obviously a “hand-me-down”.  He was neither smiling nor was he frowning; he was just watching with the intensive curiosity of a small child.  I guessed that he was about six years of age.  “Geia sou”, I said, smiling at him.  Having been on Crete for only two or three months, that was about the extent of my Greek vocabulary.  He managed a shy smile back and then said something in Greek that I didn’t understand.  “Hey, Manoli, can you come over here and tell me what this little boy is saying?” I shouted out to one of the interpreters.  I really didn’t know if the interpreter’s name was Manoli or not, but at that time if you didn’t know a Greek’s name, it seemed like it automatically became “Manoli”.  The interpreter walked over and spoke to the little boy.  “What was he saying, Manoli?” I asked.  “Oh, he just wanted to know what you were doing”, Manoli said.  “O.K.  Well, just tell him that I’m putting together a bed.”  Manoli turned and spoke in Greek to the little boy.  Then, with an expressionless face, the little boy said something to Manoli.  Manoli paused, cast his eyes downward and was silent.  “Well, what did he say, Manoli?” I asked.  Manoli lifted his eyes and replied with his heavy Greek accent, “The little boy wants to know”, he paused, then continued, “...what is a bed?”  At first I thought that I hadn’t heard Manoli correctly or that he was playing some kind of joke on me.  But, when I glanced at Manoli, then at the little boy, then back to Manoli again, I realized that he was serious.  This little boy had never slept in a bed before; he didn’t even know what a bed was.  He had always slept on a pallet on the floor!  I quickly turned my head away from both of them and started fiddling with one of the tools, pretending that I was still putting the bunk bed parts back together.  I didn’t want either one of them to see the redness in my eyes - after all, young men don’t cry.  Once I had somewhat regained my composure, I cleared my throat and said to Manoli, “You tell him that a bed is something that you sleep on at night.  Or, you can even sleep on it during the day if you want to take a short nap.  Tell him that I’m putting this bed together especially for him.  It will be his bed.  And, no one can ever take it away from him.  If they do, they'll have to face me, and I’ll make sure that he has his bed back.  Tell him that, Manoli”, I said as my voice started to tremble a bit.  Manoli nodded, turned and spoke to the child, and as he did so, the little boy began to smile.  After I had assembled the bed frame, I inserted the springs and found a surplus mattress that wasn’t in too bad a condition.  There were no sheets as I can remember, but there was a stack of used Air Force blankets piled in a corner of the room.  I selected the two best blankets that I could find, then I covered the mattress with one blanket and used the second blanket like a top sheet.  The little boy had remained at my side the entire time.  When I was finished, I motioned for the little boy to climb up on the bed and lay down.  I had pulled back the top blanket and the small boy sandwiched himself between the two blankets.  He pulled his little stuffed animal close to his body and even closer to his heart, then closed his eyes.  Perhaps that stuffed animal was his only kin...or maybe even his only friend.  I stepped outside for a cigarette and walked around in the cool spring, mountain air for a few minutes, trying to understand what had just happened and trying to get a grip on my emotions.  When I returned, the little boy was asleep.

That was 44 years ago.  If the little boy was six years old at that time, then he must be about 50 years old now.  I hope that he is married, and that he has children and perhaps even grandchildren.  But more than anything, I hope that he has a sense of belonging, a sense of being wanted and needed, and above that, a sense of being loved.

As an addendum to this story, I might say that as I was writing this article, more than once did tears well up in my eyes.  Yes, I know...young men don’t cry...but old men do!

P.S.: Your comments on this article are welcomed.  You can leave a comment simply by clicking on "comments" at the end of this article.  Your comments will be posted as soon as they can be reviewed.  Thanks.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead

Monday, October 14, 2013

VISIT THE CRETE FAMILY VILLAS


Dear Friends,

Nestled in the foothills of Crete, only 30 minutes from the Heraklion Airport and only 15 minutes from the beaches of Amoudara, are the Villas Eleftheria (meaning “Liberty”), Kalithea (meaning “Good View”), and Irini (meaning “Peace”).  The beauty and serenity of these Villas can stand alone, but one additional factor that makes them even more special is that they belong to two of our own.  The Crete Family Villas, Eleftheria, Kalithea and Irini, belong to Andrew (Andy) and Jocelyne Kerrigan.  Andy was assigned to the 2115th Communications Squadron at Iraklion Air Station from 1980 until 1985.  Andy worked atop Mount Edheri at the site better known to most of us as “Tropo”.  After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, Andy now works for the Federal Aviation Administration and Jocelyne works as a school teacher.

Andy and Jocelyne built these three villas in 2005 on the edge of the little picturesque village of Pendamodi.  It is a small, quiet village with a population of about 250 inhabitants.  On any given day, you can walk through the village and see old men passing time by playing backgammon (tavli) outside kafeneios (coffee houses) while women shop in the markets buying the freshest of vegetables and meats for the daily meals.  The only sounds that emanate from the village and the surrounding area are the bleating of sheep or goats, the occasional automobile that passes through, and the delightful cries of children playing European football (soccer).

In 2012, I had the very distinct pleasure of visiting Pendamodi and the Crete Family Villas of Eleftheria, Kalithea and Irini along with my Dutch friends, Hans and Henni, and Theo and Coby.  Jocelyne stood waiting to greet us at the door of the Villa Eleftheria.  Villa Eleftheria is situated on one level and can be easily navigated by small children and those with mobility limitations.  The interior of Villa Eleftheria reflects a warm and inviting atmosphere, accented by stone and wood and exposed beams.  There are two bedrooms and two bathrooms and can easily accommodate up to a total of six people.  This villa is well-appointed with a corner stone fireplace, satellite T.V., Wi-Fi access, DVD and CD players, a dining area and a fully equipped kitchen with a full-sized cooker, microwave oven, dishwasher, refrigerator/freezer, toaster, kettle and a coffee maker.  There is also a washing machine in one of the bathrooms.  Outside, there is a shaded terrace overlooking the private swimming pool, which is the perfect place to enjoy that morning cup of coffee or just to sit and contemplate the surrounding beauty of the vineyards and olive groves, or the hills and valleys below.

Because the other two villas, Kalithea and Irini, were occupied, we were unable to go inside; however, Jocelyne escorted us around the outside of these two beautiful villas.  Both are on two levels.  Villa Kalithea boasts of having two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and can accommodate up to six people easily.  Villa Irini is a little larger and features three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and can sleep up to eight people comfortably.  If the interiors of Villas Kalithea and Irini are anything like Villa Eleftheria, then they must also be absolutely gorgeous inside!  I might also add that Villas Kalithea and Irini each has its own private swimming pool just as does Villa Eleftheria.  And, just to make the stay more enjoyable, Crete Family Villas are situated at an elevation of 335 meters or 1,100 feet.  This makes for even lower humidity and cooler temperatures during those hot summer months!

The little village of Pendamodi reminded me of the small mountain villages that I used to visit in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when I was also stationed on Crete.  There is a relaxed atmosphere that speaks of a time gone by...a time when herds of sheep or goats sometimes blocked the roads...a time when old men sat sipping wine or raki while deftly twirling their worry beads (komboloi) through their fingers...a time when every meal was not just for eating, but a time for socializing...a time when time was not measured by the hands on a clock, but by the smiles that were etched in memories and laughter that echoed endlessly throughout the adjacent hills and valleys below.

So, when you are planning your next trip to Crete and you want to stay at a place where you can get a genuine feel for the local Cretan culture and customs, and a place that is relaxing, slower paced, and surrounded by nature, please give the Crete Family Villas serious consideration.  For more photographs of Crete Family Villas, or for additional details regarding availability and prices, please go to the following website:  www.cretefamilyvillas.co.uk  And for additional information, or if you simply would like to re-establish contact with your Air Force friends, Andy and Jocelyne Kerrigan, you can E-Mail them at the following address: Jocelyne@cretefamilyvillas.co.uk  I am sure they would love to hear from any of you who might remember them from when they were assigned to Iraklion Air Station.  When you contact them, just tell them that “Bob Armistead” sent you!

"Click" on any photo below to obtain a larger image.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead



Jocelyne Kerrigan stands waiting to greet us
just outside the Villa Eleftheria.
View of the Villa Eleftheria.



 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Swim or just relax by the private pool
 of Villa Eleftheria.
Spacious Master bedroom with double
bed in the Villa Eleftheria.








 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





Shower and sink off the
master bedroom of the
Villa Eleftheria.
 
 
  1. 
    Two single beds provide comfort
    in the second bedroom of
    Villa Eleftheria.
    
  2. 
  3. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The full bath provides all amenities
in the Villa Eleftheira.
Whether you are a "sometimes" cook
or a full-blown chef, you'll find
everything you need in the well-
equipped kitchen in the
Villa Eleftheria.


 
 
 
 
 










The ever-consummate hostess,
Jocelyne Kerrigan entertains guests
in the spacious living area
of the Villa Eleftheria.
The beautiful fireplace in
the corner of the living
area of the Villa Eleftheri















Lovely Villa Kalithea waits for you
at the end of a beautifully
landscaped path.
Villa Kalithea offers that rare
balance between convenience
and privacy.


 
 







Villa Kalithea sleeps
 six comfortably and
boasts of its own private
swimming pool.

Beautiful Villa Irini sleeps up to 8
guests comfortably and is situated
on gorgeous landscaped grounds.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 






Just one of the many captivating views
enjoyed by guests at the
Crete Family Villas!
You can swim, relax at poolside, or
simply enjoy the distant vistas from
the Villa Irini.







 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

LADY OF THE NIGHT


Dear Friends,

I know we have all heard the expression, “I thought I had seen and heard it all until...”  Well, I have now joined the ranks of those who have used that expression.

Before sharing my tale with you, I feel compelled to first give you some background information.  The little apartment building in which I always stay for my annual three month visit to Crete is located in the small seaside village of Amoudara and is only about six kilometers to the west of Iraklion (Heraklion).  The building has about nine or ten apartments and is owned by my landlords, Nikitas and Stella.  My apartment is located on the ground floor and is situated in almost dead center of the building.  When I am in the apartment, I almost always leave my front door and my front window open.  This permits the air to circulate and I only close the door and window when it is oppressively hot and there is a need to turn the air conditioner on or when I leave my apartment.

When I am in my apartment, I am quite frequently at my computer which sits on my little dinette table and is clearly visible from the street by passers by.  It is not uncommon for those who pass by my apartment and who see me typing away to mistakenly think that my apartment is actually the office for the little apartment building.  And, on occasions too numerous to count, I have had complete strangers to walk right into my apartment and inquire about the availability or rates for apartments there.  When I explain that my apartment is not the office they all have apologized for the intrusion and then politely backed out of my apartment.  Now that I have laid the groundwork details, I can proceed with my story:

It was about 10:30 PM one evening around the middle of September of 2012 when I was in my apartment and sitting at my computer.  I was surprised when I heard the sound of footsteps moving across my patio toward my door.  I knew that none of my friends on Crete would be visiting me at so late an hour, so I just assumed that it was someone who mistakenly thought that my apartment was the office.  A young woman of about thirty years of age briefly paused at the threshold of my door before stepping out of the night and boldly into my apartment and walking over to the table where I sat at my computer.  With a heavy Greek accent she asked, “How would you like to have all of this for only fifty Euros?” and then she made a sweeping motion with both hands moving down either side of her body from just under her armpits to about mid-thigh.  I couldn’t believe my ears!  I looked at her and responded, “Lady, I wouldn’t give you five Euros for all of that!”  Her eyes widened in a combination of disbelief and consternation as she turned and stormed out of my apartment and back into the black of night.  I was somewhat pleased with the ease at which I had I dispatched her so quickly.  I turned my attention back to my computer and resumed typing.  However, my relief was only short-lived.  In less than five minutes, I once again heard the now-familiar footsteps on my patio moving toward my door.  It was the same woman.  This time she didn’t pause before stepping into my apartment and approaching me at my table.  She spoke, saying, “The price has just gone down.  Now, you can have all of this for only twenty Euros,” she said, almost as if she were promoting a "K-Mart blue light special" and once again motioning with her hands down either side of her body.  With a stern look of determination, I said, “You are right.  The price has just gone down.  I wouldn’t give you one Euro for all of that!”  She slammed her foot down on my apartment floor and then stomped angrily out of my apartment, across my patio and disappeared into the warm Cretan evening.  I smugly smiled at my choice of words and felt that I had dealt with this “lady” in such a manner that she would be unlikely to visit me again!

The following afternoon, I had gone down the street to Popi’s little taverna on the beach to meet my friends and have a beer or two and perhaps a shot of raki (Cretan moonshine!) with them.  After having a beer with my friends I recounted the events of the previous evening.  They all laughed and joked at the choice of words I had used to persuade the “lady” that I was completely uninterested in her “generous” offer.  We had a couple more Mythos beers and then the raki began to flow.  Usually I only have two raki’s after a couple of beers, but this evening it seemed that every time I left my chair to go to the restroom or when I briefly turned my back, my little shot glass would mysteriously refill with raki.  I am not really certain how many of those tiny glasses of raki I had, but however many it was...it was waaaaaay too many!  When I left Popi’s that evening, I was feeling no pain...it might even be said that I was just a little more than pickled!  Upon arrival at my apartment, I opened my door and window before seating myself at my computer and then making a feeble attempt to boot it up.  However, at some point before I was able to successfully get it turned on, I slipped into what could only be called a state of “twilight” – not awake, nor asleep – not completely drunk, nor completely sober either...I had entered into the alcohol equivalent of “The Twilight Zone”.  I am not sure how long it was that I sat slumped over at my computer, but I was roused from my state of half-sleep by the sound of a familiar woman’s voice with a Greek accent.  “You know, you should never leave your door open like this.  It is not safe.”  It was the same “lady” who had offered her services the previous evening.  I was a little startled and not really knowing what to say, I stammered, “Uh, yeah.  Right.”  With that she turned and evaporated into the night like an evening fog.  I sat there for several moments trying to rid the cobwebs from inside my head and attempting to understand what had just happened.  In only a matter of seconds my head began to clear and it was then that I wondered just how long she had been inside my apartment.  I left my chair and moved around the partition that separated my little bedroom from the rest of my apartment.  I always kept my billfold and my passport on the ledge of the side of the partition facing my bedroom.  I stood in absolute horror as I realized that my billfold was GONE!!!  I immediately raced from my apartment, across my patio, and into the middle of the street.  I turned right and ran down the narrow street in the direction of the beach, looking down little side streets as I went, hoping to catch a glimpse of the thief.  Upon arriving at the beach and not seeing her, I retraced my route back up the same street, past my apartment to the main street that passes through the middle of the village of Amoudara.  I looked to the right down the sidewalk and then the left.   Not seeing her, I hastily made my way back to my little apartment while muttering choice words along the way, mostly aimed at myself.  Upon re-entering my apartment, I saw my billfold lying on the sofa.  I never place my billfold on the sofa, so I expected only the worst.  When I opened it, I found that it was completely devoid of all money and that my ample supply of bus tickets had also disappeared.  Fortunately, I only had between 70 and 120 Euros in my billfold; the rest were securely locked away in the wall safe in my apartment.  While I was angry, both at myself and the “Lady of the Night”, I also felt that I had been violated and that my Crete had lost some of its innocence.

The next afternoon, I went back to Popi’s little taverna down by the beach.  My friends were all assembled there and after a cold Mythos beer, I recounted to them what had transpired the previous evening with the “Lady of the Night”.  My friends were appalled at the audacity of the woman and concluded that she must have been a true professional and had most likely committed this act many times before.  I completely agreed with their assessment.  Then, one of my friends, smiling, said, “You know, Bobby, you probably would have come out ahead if you had just accepted her discounted offer of only 20  Euros when she re-entered your apartment that first night.”  All of my friends couldn’t help but laugh, and I couldn’t resist joining in either.  After all, 20 Euros would have been a lot less than 70 to 120 Euros!  LOL.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bobby (Bob) Armistead

Friday, July 5, 2013

AN OPEN LETTER OF APOLOGY


Dear Friends,

I think there comes a time in every man’s (or woman’s) life when he comes to the realization that an apology of the most profound nature and of the most sincere proportions are in order.  After careful self-analysis I have now come to that same conclusion.

If you examine my little site here, you will notice that my last entry was dated and posted on May 25, 2012.  That means that it has been almost one year and two months since I have placed my fingers on my laptop keyboard to post an article, story, observation or a comment here.  Even though I have been woefully derelict in my obligations to those who read and follow my blog, many of you have continued to visit this site and to read or re-read many of the entries and stories posted here.  To those of you who have not given up in despair, I must commend you.  And, to those who have not been critical of my negligence, I must thank you.

I can’t produce a single legitimate excuse for having neglected this site for over one year.  Perhaps I was simply “burned out”, or maybe I had “writer’s block” or a serious “brain cramp”.  One person even suggested that perhaps I just needed to visit Crete for myself once and not feel burdened to spend so much time writing, researching, revising and then re-writing commentaries and articles for this site.  Maybe they are right...or maybe I was just plain lazy.  At any rate, it is now that I offer the apology that I have been talking about, and I hope that those of you who read and follow my blog can accept my apology and forgive me for my gross negligence!  “I apologize!”  There I said it!

Now that I have cleared my conscience, perhaps I can straightaway resume my writing and hopefully provide you with some interesting insights concerning Crete, or stories that might enlighten you or maybe even humor you.  And, in the future, if you should  sense that I am beginning to once again neglect my duties here, please leave a comment at the end of one of my entries and proceed to  kick the literary s#!t out of  me!!!

Thanks again for your patience, your indulgence but mostly for your loyalty.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob (Midget) Armistead

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A NEW MILESTONE: 25,000 Visitors!!!

Dear Friends,

Well, this morning I received notification that my blog had surpassed 25,000 visitors!  I must confess  that I am truly overwhelmed that over 25,000 people have found my blog interesting enough to  visit it, read it,  and leave comments.  Thanks to all of you for having made my blog the success that it has become!

Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",

Bob Armistead

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WELCOME BACK MELANIE!!!

Dear Friends,

When I first created this site, I had intended that all posts would have a direct correlation to Crete, the 6931st Security Group, Iraklion Air Station, or “Charlie Flight”.  However, last year after devastating floods had resulted in 2.3 billion dollars worth of damage, as well as 32 deaths in the middle Tennessee area, I decided to post a commentary with photos that reflected some of the damage to my hometown.

I have now decided to post another commentary with photos which has absolutely nothing to do with those aforementioned parameters outlined in the preceding paragraph.

Immediately after I retired from the U.S. Postal Service in January of 2004, I decided that in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it was imperative that I begin a workout routine at the gym.  Although I had been a member of the YMCA for several years, I had seldom used their facilities.  Now that I was retired, I had absolutely no excuse for not spending time at the gym and attempting to develop and maintain a healthy mind, spirit and body.  One of the very first individuals whom I met at the YMCA was a lovely blond-haired lady, named Melanie.  She was friendly, personable, witty and intelligent…a rare combination of qualities not often found in any one person.  Within just a short period of time, Melanie and I became good friends and would often spend time talking to each other while on the arc trainers at the YMCA.

Recently, Melanie experienced an illness and complications that the “average” person would have had difficulty enduring and ultimately overcoming.  However, my friend, Melanie, can hardly be called “average”.  I strongly suspect that beneath her clothing, she wears a bright blue t-shirt which bears a very large red “S” in the middle of that shirt.  Yes, I am now convinced that Superman is really a lady named Melanie!

From the first week of November until the middle of December, Melanie spent most of her time in the intensive care units of two different hospitals, battling not only septic shock, but also cardiac arrest, viral pneumonia in both lungs, being placed on a respirator, undergoing a tracheotomy, experiencing intestinal bleeding, and requiring transfusions.  She also spent time in a specialty hospital whose purpose it was to help patients become independent of respirators.

Finally, on December 13th, after 43 consecutive days of hospitalization and medical care, Melanie was released from a hospital in Nashville and allowed to return to her home.  While I have to give much credit to the medical community, I must also recognize that Melanie was the object of countless prayers which were heard by a loving and caring God.

On Friday, December 23rd Melanie returned to the YMCA for the first time since her illness.  When she entered the YMCA facility, she was met by a large “WELCOME BACK MELANIE” banner and was immediately besieged by well-wishers and friends who had missed her lovely smile, her bubbling personality and her positive attitude!  I have documented that visit to the YMCA below with photographs and captions.

Before closing, I would like to thank the YMCA for allowing me to collect signatures and well-wishes on Melanie’s “Welcome Back” banner and then permitting me to hang that banner at the YMCA facility just prior to Melanie’s visit.  I would also like to thank Brent Parchman and his crew at Ledbetter Signs in Clarksville, Tennessee, for designing and printing a banner that was perfect for the occasion.  I might also add that after having placed my order for the banner, Brent saw to it that the banner was ready the following morning – now, that’s service!!!  And, lastly, I would like to thank all of those who signed Melanie’s banner and prayed for her recovery.   Thank you all.  And, in keeping with the Christmas Season and in the words of Tiny Tim…”God Bless Us…Everyone!”

Your Friend,

Bobby Armistead

*NOTE: CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO GET A LARGER IMAGE.

ABOVE PHOTO:  Melanies's
"Welcome Back" sign hangs in
the lobby of the YMCA.
ABOVE PHOTO:  Well-wishers
gather around Melanie upon her
return to the YMCA on Dec. 23,
2011.













ABOVE PHOTO:  George Ketch
(orange shirt) directs Melanie to
smile at the camera in the YMCA.
ABOVE PHOTO:  Melanie is greeted
by Bobby Armistead at the YMCA on
Dec. 23, 2011.




ABOVE PHOTO:
Melanie shares a moment
with Bobby Armistead at
the YMCA on Dec. 23, 2011.

ABOVE PHOTO:   Melanie chats
with Mr. Nanny, Director of
Maintenance, at the YMCA on
Dec. 23, 2011.















ABOVE PHOTO:
Melanie poses under her
"Welcome Back" sign
at the YMCA on
Dec. 23, 2011.
ABOVE PHOTO:
Melanie poses with
Bobby Armistead under
her "Welcome Back sign
at the YMCA.















ABOVE PHOTO:  Well-wishers gather
around Melanie beneath her "Welcome
Back" sign at the YMCA on Dec. 23, 2011.