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May 28, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Regles Bellamy, Jr.

Regles Bellamy, Jr
December 6, 1945 – May 5, 2013

Memorial Day 2013 has more meaning than ever before for me.  This year our family is minus one member.  My oldest brother and family patriarch since our father’s death over 35 years ago has answered his final “roll-out” call.  Regles Bellamy, Jr. passed away May 5, 2013.  He enlisted in the Navy in 1964 and valiantly served our country during the Vietnam War.  After completing active duty, he continued with the Naval Reserve for a total of 36 years of honorable service.

As I sat in the church during the service, I was anxious to read the obituary – as is my habit to learn the historical details of a person’s life.  I was struck by this phrase: While in Vietnam, Senior Chief Bellamy was exposed to the chemical, Dioxin (Agent Orange), which led to Leukemia and ultimately, after 17 years his death.  The military has a saying, “All gave some, some gave all.”  I was shocked – my brother had given “all” which only come to pass decades after the war was over.

Later in a conversation with my sister-in-law, I asked what had happen to prompt such a definitive statement.  She told me that after many years of denial, the Navy had finally admitted that my brother’s cancers (he also had a bout with Prostate Cancer several years ago) were indeed a result of exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.  But even that admission had come very late – he had already been forced to retire due to his illnesses.  The issue of  being a Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veteran had been settled.   I am pleased that he died knowing that our country had done the right thing by him and his fellow sailors.

As I recalled the last number of years of our discussions regarding the possibility of a connection between his military service and his cancers, I was at first upset.  I had done some research on the subject and we had compared notes and shared frustrations with the roadblocks we were both getting.  But through all of the conversations, I never heard any regret or disdain for the service he had given to our country.  He said the Navy had allowed him to travel all over the world, get an education on the GI Bill, become a homeowner and a landlord, generously support his church community and provide well for his family.  Including helping us as siblings to make our way in the world. So on this Memorial Day, I say, “Regles Bellamy Jr. – we thank you for your service!”

Jr's Final Salute

Final Salute. We thank you for your service!

We both loved gardening and bonded over that common passion.  He encouraged me to grow everything from fruit trees and grapes to tomatoes and greens.  Several cuttings and packages of seeds came from his garden in California to my garden in Texas.

Jr.'s Garden

Shared Passion – Jr’s Inspirational Garden

For many years until his health declined, every fall a giant box of fresh Citrus fruits and Pomegranates from his trees would arrive like clockwork at our front door.  I would always say, “My brother still loves me; why else would he send me these goodies?”

Inspired by his garden and love for sharing with his family and friends both near and far, I dug up our backyard and even expanded to to set up my “Driveway Farmette!”  I grow a variety of fruits and vegetables year round as the seasons dictates.  Recalling his and my elder’s advice to grow things by the moon (Farmer’s Almanac ).

It became apparent that Jr’s health was failing fast a few weeks ago.  I could almost hear him say, “Girl, you know you should have had that garden in weeks ago; get going on it.  Don’t even think about coming to California without it being in!”  I got the garden in, he is gardening in the heavens.  I brought back cuttings from his beautiful and heavy laden grape vines as pollinators for my rather sluggish and rarely productive ones.  Here is my Memorial Garden for my brother.

Jr's Memorial Garden

Jr’s Memorial Garden

In addition to my Jr., my brother Edward Bellamy also served honorably in the United States Navy nearly mirroring his service time in active duty and reserve service.  I can still remember the excitement our whole family felt when the “Bellamy Boys” came home dressed in their uniforms.  He too stepped in to help out when Daddy died all those years ago.  They BOTH gave me away when I got married.  Edward also has become and avid gardener at his home in Michigan.

Edward and Me. Thank you for your service.

Military service was passed on to the next generation in my family.  My nephew Turhan Walker served honorably in the United States Army for over 16 years and is now retired.  Marlon Bellamy, also my nephew is currently on active duty in the United States Navy.

As Memorial Day 2013 goes in the memory book, it is indeed special to be able to say to my family members, “Thank you for your service!”  And to Jr., “Rest in PEACE!”

 

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wife, mother, sister, friend. Business owner, writer, photographer. Yes, it's a lot but life is full of opportunites and we should take full advantage of them.
Scripture Memory Verse:
SMV: Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. Prov 16:3