It's fitting that I post about Key West today. It's Veteran's Day and it's the Offshore Power Boat World Championship Races.
It was in Key West where I married my husband and it was in Key West where I started attending my brother's races. He races stock class offshore power boats. The first time I went to the races in 2010, my husband was deployed in Afghanistan. We put a Seabee on the boat for him. And my brother won a World Championship.
By 2011, we were were a family on the road and our dining room table was an airport or the race pits. My brother's throttle man, Joey Gratton, and his family were on the road with us throughout the season. Family time was spent at the breakfast buffet, hanging out at the trailer, and counting laps. It was great.
But in Key West that year we lost Joey. We lost three racers that week. All during the races. And then everything stood still for a bit.
It's been 4 years now and my brother still races—and every November in Key West. I think about Joey and his family—especially on this day—and I think of all the things that little island has delivered— the chickens and the cats, a wedding, a distraction from my husband's deployment, a sunburn, a checkered flag and a teammate. 11-11-11.