"If you waste your time a-talkin' to the people who don't listen,/To the things that you are sayin', who do you think's gonna hear./And if you should die explainin' how the things that they complain about,/Are things they could be changin', who do you think's gonna care?"
"To Beat The Devil" - Kris Kristofferson
Death’s been hanging around my family’s door for about the last two weeks now. Actually, when I really think about it, I guess death’s been hanging around my uncle, hence my family, since the end of the Vietnam War. As I sit here and write this, death finally claimed him, as just a few minutes ago I heard the chime of my phone informing me I had a new text. The message was from my brother Shaun in Texas, and it was simple – “Ron passed away.”
Ron Cossel was a great guy – my favorite relative. He taught me everything I know about football and I remember him always giving me hell when his Chiefs beat my Dolphins. That was back in the days of Dan Marino, so my uncle couldn’t give me much hell back then. Ron helped me develop a standings board that we taped to the door of my bedroom. Every week he and I would watch whatever game was on T.V. and then anxiously await the results of the Monday night game so we could adjust my standings board. We’d sit and chit-chat about the dawning playoff picture for the season, who had the stuff to make it, who didn’t, and who was going to take it all – Ron ALWAYS bet on the Chiefs.
Ron Cossel was a Marine and not just any Marine, Ron Cossel was a Marine Corps sniper and he was an absolute, one-shot, one-kill, death behind a rifle marine. But like so many veterans of the Vietnam War, my uncle didn’t get a fair shake, neither while he was serving nor when he came home.
Ron was asked to do many terrible, terrible things while he was over there, things that he never wanted to talk about, things that drove him to the bottom of a bottle – a bottom he never could find his way out of as his demons kept dragging him back down every time he just about broke free of it.