Last Friday I stopped by the police retiree's luncheon next door at the PD. To tell the truth, I was dragged there by two other retirees. I'm in the middle of a very busy stretch and I tend to get very task oriented, but I was glad that they took the time to haul my ass out of the office.
I saw some guys that I haven't seen in twenty years. Everyone was heavier and grayer. One of the cops greeting us at the door was a fellow I recognized but couldn't remember his name. I had seen him a few times at the DA's Office and so we talked for a bit. Turns out he remembered me alot more than I remembered him. I had helped break him in almost fifteen years ago. My memory is getting bad.
Going through the auditorium glad handing people, I ran into Harry, one of my partners from the old Crime Control Team days in the mid-70's, and spent time catching up with him. His kids are scattered hither and yon and his wife, a school teacher, just retired this year. He retired from the PD in 2004. And then there was Ace and Steffie and Carmen and so many others. Sgt. Billy was there, he joined the department in 1949, the year I was born. He is 84 now and looks and sounds wonderful.
Others are not doing so well. I ran into a former sergeant that I didn't even recognize at first, he had deteriorated so badly - a mere shadow of what used to be a very intimidating physical presence. He is 81 now. I had worked with his brother back in 1970, prior to joining the department. This was a tough cop who was rather feared, he worked in intelligence and handled "special" projects . He was close to the Chief who wielded absolute authority. If he caught you screwing up you were truly up the crick without a prayer. As we spoke about old days and his brother who died some time ago, he started to tear up. He related hhis recent operations and how his health is very poor. I believe he is afraid of his impending death. He didn't remember my name. I told him who I was, but he confused me with someone else. I didn't correct him.
I left this bittersweet affair with mixed feelings. It was great to see the guys, but I wondered who would be missing next year. There's a few guys who left this world way too soon. Then this morning before church, I logged onto my email and got the dreaded message from my retiree's association, "Sad News."
Captain Charlie Dawson, age 92, passed away this month. He was the Court Liaison Officer when I came on and he retired quite some time ago, 1976, after thirty-five years of service. He was one of the kindest men I ever met. He used to carry candy in his pockets to give to children who came into the station.
That's not a bad way to be remembered. I'll bet Charlie is pleased.