Family Business

Cheyenne Travel Blog

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Grave of my brother

I have always thought of myself as the oldest of the four children raised by my parents. But, in truth, there was a sibling, a brother, who came before me. He, David Charles, was born on February 14, 1962.


Over the course of the years, and especially as I researched and wrote a family history book, I have tried to put myself in my parents shoes. The anticipation of the birth of their first child. Going through the Christmas holidays knowing that this time next year, they would be buying miniature cloths and toys for their son or daughter. Then having the child born on the most romantic of days, Valentine’s Day. My thoughts would of course then jump to the tragic dichotomy of the event. My brother’s death the next day. The horror of being told something was wrong. The hopelessness of being told there was nothing to be done. The cut of irony at having this event fall on my father’s own birthday.


My parents rarely spoke of this time, and always in reverent and subdued tones. Dad was in the Air Force, until I was 10. His first three children were born in Cheyenne, on F.E. Warren Air Force Base. But the life of an American serviceman is nomadic, so after the burial of my brother and our subsequent transfer, visits to his grave became more difficult. Even after Dad’s retirement and a permanent Colorado address was established, getting up there was not simple.


With those facts in mind and because we would be driving right through Cheyenne, not once, but twice, I felt more than a little obligated to make a stop at the cemetery. Margo had her own reason for wanting to stop. Her favorite cousin, Tina, just past 21 years old and beginning a family of her own, with Brandon, her own F. E. Warren Airman, was also in Cheyenne. When I planned this trip I made sure we would have plenty of time to take care of all of our family business.


We left Casper at about 9 AM and pulled into the capital city about 11:30AM. I had gotten both a cemetery map and the location of my brother’s grave. So after finding the cemetery it was pretty easy to locate the grave. I had been there many times, but always as a kid, and not for at least 15 years. So without the map I would have been lost. The stone was a small flat one, with an inscription I remembered well; Baby Boy Kretzer David Charles, Feb 14-15, 1962. We place a small cross on the grave, and after just a few moments of silence, we left.


Tina and Brandon had lunch prepared for us. That was very nice of them and we all ate gratefully, as we were famished. We told them about our past week’s travels and they in turn brought out a recent photo album of their trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Margo and I were both interested in the pictures of Mount Rushmore, and even more so in the pictures of Bedrock. Everyone knows of the existence of the four presidents carved onto the face of Mount Rushmore. But, neither Margo nor I knew that some entrepreneur had created the fictional town of Bedrock, home to the Flintstones. We thought it so cool to see Tina, Brandon, and their son sitting in the Flintstone car or conversing with Wilma and Betty. It kind of whetted our appetites for a trip in that direction.


Several hours melted away as we talked about the vacations, Aunt Helen and the Cody clan, and caught them up with all of the family gossip from Brighton. All too soon we had to get going. We only had another 90 minutes or so until we got home. But, it had been a week on the road and our own beds called to us from the southern horizon. We said our good byes with hugs and handshakes, and we made out for the final leg home.


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Grave of my brother
Grave of my brother
1,614 km (1,003 miles) traveled
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photo by: esterrene