Monday, July 28, 2008

In Honor of My Hero


WARNING: TISSUE ALERT.

This weekend, I lost a friend and hero. He was the living embodiment of all a hero should be, and was strong till the end. In an attempt to process & work through everything that has happened from Thursday to Sunday, and so that I always remember, I've written this below. Originally, I was not going to post this -- it seems far too personal somehow. But on the other hand, this was and is a true hero. I want you to know him, I want you to remember him, I want you to honor him by remembering him and living your life to the fullest - and by always, always, always honoring our veterans and currently-serving troops. There were many others who knew him far better than I, and were able to visit him more often than I was before he left us. But I must pay tribute to him as best I can, for I loved him and his precious wife and family. Please accept this for what it is - a tribute to a real hero, and may your heart be touched by his courageous example, as mine was.
SSG Norman H. Currin went to be with the Lord shortly after 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 27, 2008. Exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War messed him up. For thirteen years, he fought serious physical problems all the time. Six of those years, he got dialysis 3 times a week and for many years was also confined to a wheelchair.

The last six months were a whirlwind of hospital stays back-to-back-to-back - strokes, pnumonia, complications from being a dialysis patient, infection of his dialysis port & bedsores, and lastly, a massive heart attack on Tuesday. Nothing the docs could have done would have saved him, the treatments would have killed him.

Norman bravely made the decision on Wednesday to accept hospice care. Despite massive amounts of morphine and being in a medically-induced coma when I first got to the hospital on Thursday, he still communicated. He'd squeeze our hands when we said certain things (any of his friends' names or anything about motorcyles, fthe military, or especially his dear family, for example).

The day before he died, while on "enough morphine to choke a horse" (said the nurse), he fully and completely woke up and looked at each one of us - plain as day told each of us one by one, "I love you." He was holding my hand so tightly, my hand fell asleep. He held my hand and the hands of his family and friends strongly off and on for hours all weekend- always his squeezes were in response to something that was said to him, not simply random.

About 3 hours before he left us, he woke up again. He couldn't open his eyes or talk, tho he was obviously trying. He would turn in the direction of our voices and smile - SMILE!! - at us. Then he slipped back into his deep sleep once more...

Shortly thereafter, his lungs were completely filled with fluid as a result of no dialysis for the past week --- a few more brave (but ineffective) breaths, and he was gone.

A phone call was made as planned upon his passing, and others from from the Patriot Guard Riders, together with some riders from the Wingmen and Sons of Thunder who were his dearest, dearest friends, came to the hospital and escorted him and his family to the funeral home in the middle of the night. Talk about an amazing and humbling honor.

This man, who walked out of a POW camp after two weeks of torture (the scars were still on his arms), fought on Hamburger Hill and lived to tell about it, stayed strong to the very, very end. It was an amazing thing to see -- if ever there was a true hero, Norman Currin is it.

He was treated cruelly upon his return from Vietnam, as so many of our veterans were. But I have not the slightest doubt that in Heaven, God made it up to him hugely with the biggest, best welcome home parade and celebration EVER.

Freedom is not free. Those who fight for it - now and in past conflicts - deserve our utmost honor and respect. We will never fully know or understand all they sacrificed on our behalf. To those who served in Vietnam and were unappreciated, I offer my genuine and heartfelt gratitude. Know that you made a difference - know that we are proud of you, know that you are dearly and truly loved. And for those who never once have heard it said in all this time: Welcome home. You did us proud.

7 comments:

SusanMK said...

That was beautiful. I wish I could've known him and his family. But he was a true hero and got a hero's welcome in Heaven! :)

Love ya!

Sarge Charlie said...

Welcome home my friend, you did your duty and paid the price.

DNR said...

(((hugs))) my friend.

I wish I could have known him.
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SSG Norman H. Currin, God bless, rest well. You will not be forgotten.

ncurrin said...

God Bless You Kat
AS i sit here and cry I am also so very proud of my daddy.
Thank you for everything you did this weekend
Love Nina

Stacy said...

Thanks Kat for posting this. Sounds like someone I would have wanted to know. May he rest in peace.

chilly said...

WOW! What a great read. Glad I stumbled on this site. Thanks for posting and being here!

Thank you!

Diana Benitez, RN said...

It was my honor to be Normans nurse for the past 2 years. Having an uncle that was affected by agent orange and died 12 years ago, I felt so proud to be able to care for Norman. Although he was suffering he always said he was ok to make his loving wife feel better. He was strong until the end despite all he was going through. Nancy, his loving wife, never left his side. Her devotion touched me in many ways. She never gave up on him and did a wonderful job taking care of him. Norman and Nancy show all of us what it trully means to be married and what true love really means. God was with them always and I know both God and Norman are by Nancy's side during this sad time. I love you Norman and I will miss you dearly! Thanks for being my guardian angel!

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