And we’re back

“It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you.”  courtesy of Rakim.

I write to the readers of this blog with a heavy heart.  I’ve done all I could to block it out, but it comes in without warning.  It comes in with a purpose.  It comes in de face.

Not like that for all you perverts out there.  I have been doing all I can to avoid writing but it needs to come out.  I am conflicted by the pain that causes this insomnia.  My friends, family and fellow Americans, I too was affected by that day.  From the “no shit” department, I wish it never happened.  This is some of my story.

My parents had just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary the day before that sunny Tuesday.  Shout out to them both, 45 years ago now and still going strong.  In the interest of full disclosure, my father is a proud member of the USMC and is the most loyal, honorable and great family man I know.  He was expert rifle classification during his active duty and prior to that day, used those skills several times to his advantage.  He protects his family, loves us with all he’s got, and is part of the reason why I love the New York Yankees as much as I do.  The guy is so loyal, he made sure his son looked like Derek S. Jeter.  Nice shooting on that day too pops.  Hey, from my perspective, it’s better than looking like Nomar.

“Meat” as he has later been known, was married on September 10th, 1966 to my beautiful mother.  They had their first child when they were in their early twenties.  She came to be known as a JAP, but before that she was JAM.   Six years and two months later, I was born.  I came out screaming my fool head off, and some might say, haven’t stopped since.  I was a colicky baby that announced his “presence with authority.”  For those keeping score, the nickname “Meat” and the quote “presence with authority” both come from the movie Bull Durham.  Check it out.  It’s on my all-time classic list.

“The Golden Child” came up next, nearly an identical 6 years later.  This was the start of the time when I saw those sharpshooting skills first hand.  My dad was a supervisor at a NYC airport at the time.  It was August of 1981 and SEM, his third child under the age of twelve, was about to be born.  August of 1981 was a monumental time in the history of our country from my households perspective.  My dad, ever the card player, was entrenched in the highest stakes poker game he played in some time.  He was about to either call President Reagan’s bluff, or live to fight another day.  He chose to fight another day solely to help his family get the best chance possible to live the life he never had growing up.  Are you starting to understand the honor I mentioned earlier?  No?  Okay, well here is some proof.

I was about to turn six years old.  You’ll have to forgive me if the facts are a bit off but I was still learning how to count.  Here is how I “mis-remember” it.  It is August 3, 1981 and my mom is about to go into labor, again.  It was judgement day for air traffic controllers.  Go on strike and get fired or keep your job.  The President was the chips leader and had the upper hand.  Kenny Rodgers said it best, “you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”.   My dad went to work.  He faced angry co-workers to put it mildly and knew the shitstorm he was walking into, but he made a commitment to his family and was going to keep it.  Some co-worker(s) did not take too kindly to my dad’s decision.  He committed a “drive-by” before that term came to be popular.  The co-worker drove past our home and fired.  The bullet entered the living room bay window inches from my head as I sat on the couch.  From my dad’s point of view, the Muller’s were under attack and it was go time.  My dad ran and got his rifle.  The car circled back and came back for a better look but before he could get a second shot off my dad was on the front lawn taking aim.  I can only imagine what the driver and shooter was thinking as he saw my dad come flying out the front door.  After seeing my dad mad once or twice, I have a good idea of the terminology in play.  The shots must have rang out so loudly in that quiet neighborhood.  When my dad’s mission was complete, he phoned 911 and alerted them of the make, model and color of the car they were looking for along with the license plate number.  He also mentioned that said car may have a hole in the passenger side panel along with a tail light infraction.  If he wanted, he probably could have told them the name of the person, when they last shaved, and what their favorite color was, but he chose not to.  Who knows what would have become of our family dynamic if my dad let his emotions get the better of him and the results of that night were different.  My dad never tells that story although it is my favorite.  I later interviewed him for a 9th grade English paper for Ms. Rickerby’s class on his military experience and this conversation is one of the most vivid I remember to this day.

After putting in nearly 40 years with the FAA, my dad retired.  He handed in his paperwork on September 10, 2000.  It was he and his wife’s 34th wedding anniversary.  They were retiring on a Lake and going back to the state where they fell in love, bliss.  What, you thought I was going to say New Jersey?  Come on babaganoosh, you should know me better than that.

You know what happened next and I hesitate in retelling my side out of respect for those that lost much more than I.  But Irish Catholic guilt be damned.  It’s after  4am and I am an insomniac with cold feet.  My dad had worked with many of the men who were at the controls on that fateful day.  I had gone to school with folks that passed away.  I played baseball with one growing up and he could not be more top of mind as I write this, watch the games and play them on the field.  I can remember running wind sprints with him like it was yesterday.  I can remember seeing his fiancée on TV when I got home after not going to my appointment in Crystal City near the Pentagon.  The same fiancée whose family took me in during the summer of ’87 when my sister was being read her last rights and I was looking for an escape provided by Donnie Baseball’s home run streak.  Ten years ago, I would walk away from the game.  I knew when I was done.  It was when folks in HazMat suits did anthrax sweeps right in front of me in the buildings I was working in within our Nations Capital.  It was ten years ago and a job just ain’t worth that much to me.  It’s a decision I wish I never had to make, but “you gotta know when to hold ’em…”

My hope is that when you see a service person in uniform, thank them.  You may get the response I did today when Marine Mike said, “thanks for paying my salary”.  You may get a hug, a kiss, or a husband, father, mother or wife out of it.  This post was inspired by my commute to work last week.  I was on the ferry to NYC and passing Chelsea Piers.  It was approximately 8:45 in the morning as the USS NY approached.  The ferry was packed and I lost it.  Openly weeping and in part remembering the innocence lost that day.

Thank you for reading,