Love in the Time of Corona, Part 9. “Hash and Eggs”

Tomorrow I’ll have my truck towed to Baton Rogue. My buddy who lives up there and is great with motors and such is going to take over where my skill set left off. This comes at about the most inconvenient time ever. I mean, maybe not. Actually, the thing they are asking us to do is to stay home. But if the MAGAvirus drags on for months and months, I’ll likely just through my cats in the truck and drive West. Can’t do that with a broke truck. There’s a couple different scenarios, neither free, but one much more than the other. And I, of course, want to pay my buddy for his time. I’d have to pay someone; I’d rather it be this feller than a stranger. I actually thought for a minute about trading it in. It’s a sixteen-year-old truck. But I wouldn’t get much with the needed repairs and all. In great shape, it can draw up to $7K as a trade-in. But that truck has great sentimental value to me too. When I was in Iraq, I said that when I got home, I was going to buy me big blue pickup truck and I did. And my daddy helped me pay for it. It’s a way of feeling connected to him. I probably wouldn’t have gotten one with four doors but the order got screwed up. I’m so grateful it did because as it turned out, those doors came in handy. When I first bought the truck, I had my adopted grandfather and fellow Marine, Eric Cavanaugh, living with me in Hollywood. Sydney was still a pup but already big. Eric was in a wheelchair so that went in the bed of the truck. I had also hired a nurse, an angel of a human named Boyet to help me with Eric. His name was Boyet as I later found out but he initially had introduced himself as José. When I asked him why he said that he moved from the Philippines to the Continental US, to Los Angeles, he wanted to choose a solidly American name for his new life. He listened to the names he heard around LA and José seemed to set well with him, so Boyet became José. I absolutely love that that was his choice of “American” names. Personally, I think he could have done no better. You should have seen our little circus as we pilled into the truck to make the drive down Santa Monica Boulevard to Eat Well, the little neighborhood diner. We “paid light bill” we ate there so frequently. Eric loved that little place and so did I. In fact, we met for the first time at Eat Well. It was right before I shipped for boot camp. He had a horse, jovial voice, “Why you want to join so goddamn late for!?” he ribbed me. He cried when I left for Iraq. “You’re sensitive. I know you’re a good Marine but you’re sensitive. I’m afraid it will break your heart.” Eric had fought at Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War, “Frozen Chosin” as we learned to call it in boot camp.
Eric died, like a good Marine, in our home on the 4th of July. I had gone off in Dress Blues to do some dog-and-pony event for the holiday. I thought Eric was asleep but José later told me Eric had seen me on the way out the door. I will forever be grateful the last time he saw me was in that uniform. 
When the paramedics took the body from the living room floor, I had José help me fold the flag I’d placed over Eric’s body. José did so much for Eric in the last months of his life. I could not have managed with out him. We were both sort of teary-eyed and in shock. “Eatwell?” I suggested and he nodded.
José I made laps around the menu eating different things for breakfast on different days. Not Eric. He always ordered the same thing: corned-beef hash with two eggs sunny-side-up. When the server asked for José’s order, he simply said in his quiet, sweet voice (with thick Filipino accent), “hash with two eggs, sunny-side-up.” That was it for me and soon we were both filling our napkins with tears. 
Wow, how did I get off track talking about the truck and shift about Eric? I guess that’s what I needed to talk about. People are more important that possessions anyway, even sentimental ones. His ashes are over there on the altar by Sydney’s and Willie’s. When I die, they’ll be interred by his parents (as Jack Edwards; he’d changed his name a few times during the actor/model days that followed the Korean War). They are buried in a cemetery in Redlands, California.
The Wise Elders tell us that our ancestors will help us if we ask them too. I reckon we could use a little support down here right now, so if you’re listening Eric…

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