In Memory of Candy

It’s Memorial Day, and while still using my day off to move to a new apartment, drink beer, and shop at Home Depot, I’m also going to pay respect to a friend of mine who was killed in action while serving with me in Iraq last year.

Israel Candelaria didn’t have to serve. When he joined the Army he couldn’t even speak English. I remember how he would gesticulate when explaining things, how his face would light up. And even before his English became passable, you could tell that he was funny.

We used to want so badly to be a part of his humor, to be in on his joke, that we couldn’t stop ourselves from playing tricks on him. He would ask us the word for something in English and we would always tell him the wrong one. Like the time we told him that the word for “tracks” was “stove tops”. He kept talking about the stove tops that the camels left behind. He loved to play along. He was a good sport.

One of the last conversations I had with him was about riding camel spiders like cowboys. On the screen that doesn’t sound funny. Candy made it funny. He’ll be missed.

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