Goodbye, Blair

We received a letter today from one of our oldest friends, Scott T.  We’ve known Scott and later Blair, his wife, since I was in training in the Air Force at Keesler AFB, MS in 1969.

Mrs. Crucis and I had a small circle of friends, all single-guys going through the same training. I was the only one married and our small apartment outside the gate of Keesler was a gathering spot for our friends.  Scott was my best friend and one of that circle.  When training was over, everyone in the group was assigned to different bases. Scott was the only one that I every saw again.

The group, including Scott and I had a 10-day delay in route before reporting to our next assignment.  Mrs. Crucis and I went home to Illinois to spend Christmas with our family. Scott went home to North Carolina to marry Blair.

I was assigned to Richards-Gebaur AFB on the south side of KC.  Scott was assigned to March AFB near Los Angeles.  Mrs. Crucis and I had just moved into a small duplex when we got a call from Scott.  He and Blair was traveling to CA on their honeymoon and wanted to drop by and see us.  It was a start of a 40 year friendship.

We never saw them, face-to-face, again.  The world is a big place and we were never close enough again for visit.  Scott and I spent our time in the Air Force and on leaving, Mrs. Crucis and I settled here in KC.  Scott and Blair went back to Winston-Salem.

We kept in touch.  Scott had a flair for poetry. Every Christmas we received a photo-Christmas card and a poem from Scott.  His hand-writing wasn’t all the best and half the fun was translating his script.  As time went on, our families grew.  Our daughter, Jennifer arrived, so did their son, David.  Blair became an IT manager. A few years later so was I.  Our correspondence kept our friendship alive for four decades. 

We didn’t get our Christmas photo this year.  It was a disappointment, but Scott had frequently been late before. So we waited.  Today, we got a letter from Scott. Blair had passed away in her sleep.  She’d had some minor health problems in the last few years but nothing really major.  She’d fallen—broke her knee and sprained her ankle. She’d had her gall bladder removed a few years ago. As I said, nothing really major. 

Mrs. Crucis and I are healthy for our age.  Yes, we take medication for cholesterol and blood-pressure, but many like us do. It’s no longer unusual.

When we read Scott’s letter today, we both cried. We cried for Scott’s loss, for David’s loss, for missed opportunities.  We were once a state away in North Carolina, but our Blazer blew a generator near Sevierville, TN.  Could we have gone on? It hadn’t been our intent. There was always next year.  Now, we’ve run out of next years.

Scott appears to be recovering.  His son is nearby. David and Scott spent Christmas with David’s girl friend and her family. It will take some time.  You don’t get over such a loss quickly after forty years together.

I only met Blair once. I still remember her voice from that single visit long ago. I miss her, too. 

Celebration

My wife and I was discussing our finances a few days ago. My severance from Sprint ended at the end of October. We both submitted applications for Social Security (Hey! We want our money back as long as it lasts!), I completed my retirement application with Sprint with the first pension payment to be on December 1st, and I consolidated by various 401K plans and submitted the paperwork to start a monthly distribution from those plans. My 401K plan manager suggested we withdraw 4-5% each year. That “should” keep the funds solvent. Most such plans grow between 6-10% per year. Mine so far this year, has grown at a 12% rate.

While we were estimating our new income level it occurred to me—the month of November, 2010, was the only month in our 42 years of married life that we didn’t have some income. I’ve been out of work before—after leaving the Air Force, after being laid off from my computer fixin’ job in the 1980s. But each time, Mrs. Crucis was employed or I had a few months of severance to carry us over.

What a blessing!

Like all the others laid off from Sprint last year, I signed up for Kansas unemployment. That ran out last summer. The Sprint severance ran out at the end of October and our Pension and 401K distribution payments wouldn’t start until December 1st, 2010.

It hadn’t occurred to us until the month was almost over. We’ve been ardent savers. Mrs. Crucis has been saving a portion of each paycheck for our emergency fund and other contingencies, I set aside a few dollars each payday to go into my credit union, and we had a nice balance in our checking accounts. All our major debts , our house excepted, was paid off (we’ve been following Dave Ramsey’s principles long before Dave Ramsey came upon the scene) and our only bills were the normal monthly utility/phone/water-sewage/insurance expenses.

We hadn’t noticed the lack of income.

That, readers, is cause for celebration.