There is an old saying that "curiosity killed the cat". It is a proverb used to warn against being too inquisitive lest one comes to harm. As I was perusing through Facebook last night, I came across a message stating that one of my long-lost Navy friends had recently added me to his list of friends. This led to a perusal of both Coast's Canadian Navy pages, where I left some messages, hoping to touch base with even more of my old cohorts.
I suddenly had a mental image of an old friend of mine. I could see him clearly, standing in the the main flats onboard HMCS Fraser, right outside of Sick Bay. It was Bill Hagey. He was a PO1 Medical Assistant (M.A.) and everyone knew him as 'Doc' onboard ship. Bill outranked me by miles (I was only an OS/AB when I began my career at sea on Fraser...), yet he was always friendly and considerate with us younger lads. He was quite the runner to be sure and he liked his drink in foreign ports.
I recall one instance after returning from a run ashore, when I was passing by sick bay on my way forward to my bunk in 1 Mess. The door was open and there stood "Wild Bill", three sheets to the wind, singing away, bobbing and weaving as he sewed up the gash on his equally-drunk running mate. I sat there smiling, remembering when, as I did a Google search under his name. How good it would be to touch base with him, I thought. To see how he was doing, what he was up to... I found myself routed to the website for the Canadian Forces Health Services Group.
There, under the section for 2002 Bulletins, I read:
- CFMG regrets to announce the loss of PO1(ret'd) Bill Hagey, who passed away Jul 22, 2002. PO1 (ret'd) Hagey was a Physician Assistant who dedicated over 30 years to the CF Medical Service.
The smile faded from my face. I felt a wave of sadness and melancholy wash over me. Poor Bill... I have had friends in the military die before. I have attended enough military funerals. But they were normally as a result of a sudden event, or some malevolent disease. This was different. And I had never known. Here Bill has been gone these last 6 years and I had never had a chance to pay my respects, or express my sympathies to his kinfolk.
All of those who formed my world back then, we are all getting older. Time marches on... I had never been looking for any reminders of my own mortality, but there it was. It was a sad and sobering way to cap off a Thursday evening. I was almost afraid to look up anyone else from my past, lest I discover that they too, had shuffled off this mortal coil.