Last week, I told you that Matt and I were going south to the hometown of a fallen hero and friend from his unit. His friend, Dave, from Philly got to our house Wednesday afternoon. We grilled out Wednesday night and caught up with him.
Thursday morning, we left and headed south. (And by south, I mean "the south".) We got there around 1 ish. We went to the cemetery and found Rickey's grave. It was really nice, for a grave. He had a black lab for years and even had the dog's picture tattooed on him. There was a black lab statue on his grave, a big lighted American flag, and a picture of him hunting with his dog.
We decided to find a local watering hole and have a drink. We found one. It was the biggest dump I've ever been too. And I'm not even stretching the truth. But that's a whole other story. There was a picture of Rickey in the bar.
Matt had been to his house before and after a bit of searching we found his house. Matt and Dave went up to the door and his dad came to the door. Looked just like him, except older. His dad invited us in and we sat around and talked for awhile.
When his mom got home, they called up Rickey's brother, sister, and a couple aunts and told them to meet us at the local restaurant. Before we went to eat, his dad showed us all of Rickey's toys and his own toys. They haven't sold any of Rickey's toys. His mom and dad drove us around town and showed us all the places Rickey hung out and the veteran's memorial in town, where there is a bench with his name on it.
After our tour of the little town, we went to eat with them. Everyone ordered a pepper steak sandwich so we all did too. Let me just say, I'm not cut out for life in the south. This was the biggest sandwich I've ever seen. His sister said just to dig right in. His parents refused to let us pay for ours, let alone theirs.
When we were leaving they told us how much they appreciated us coming and that no one else from the Army had ever been to see them. His mom said that her birthday was Saturday and that we were the best thing she could have asked for. We thanked them for there hospitality. It was true southern hospitality. I never really knew what that meant before. But I do now.
Friday, when we got home we ordered some flowers to be sent to his mom for her birthday. She has since emailed us and thanked us for the flowers and again for coming and told us how much it meant to her. They want us to come back down and stay for at least a weekend.
We plan on going back again sometime before the summer is over. I couldn't imagine meeting any nicer people than Rickey's family and I don't believe that we will ever lose touch with them.