It's been well over twenty years ago that my brother in-law, Dan Noojin, asked me to help him move his parents. Max and Sue Noojin had purchased a house on Noccalula Mountain and needed a hand. During the move, I noticed a framed photograph on the wall of a young man that I didn't recognize. He had definite Noojin characteristics about him. I asked who it was and Dan stopped what he was doing and looked at me with a serious look on his face.
He said, "That's my older brother Carl."
"How come I've never met him?" I asked
"He died in Vietnam, we don't talk about it much."
I felt the sadness that any one would from hearing of such a loss. We quietly went back to work that day and I didn't mention Carl's name again for about five or six years. I don't remember what Dan and I were talking about at the time, we'd cover all kinds of ground back then. Perhaps we just came to a place in a conversation where I felt it okay to ask about Carl.
Dan smiled, "There's no Carl, David. That picture on the wall was of me back in 1969." That is typical Dan Noojin. He waited years for me to finally step into it. The longer the sweeter I guess.
Earlier in the week my mom brought a picture to the office. She said that it was from Dan. There it was, the picture of "Carl" that had started it all. It was signed at the top, To David, From Carl. "I'm not dead yet...I'm feeling much better." I took the photograph, scanned it, and PhotoShopped a Marine Blues onto the Dan's fourteen year old image...hence the Lt. Dan from previous post.
I don't know why, but somehow I am relieved by Carl's note that he is okay...that he made it back from Nam. It must have to do with thinking that there really was a Carl for so long and that the Noojin family had silently suffered such a loss. All those years I thought Carl was a real person and it's nice hearing from him even if he never was. So in a strange way, I am glad he's not dead and that he's feeling much better.
I wonder what he looks like these days?