Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Veteran

I'm always a day late and a dollar short... but eventually I catch up.
Recently, I was reminded of Memorial Day.  It hit me in the form of an
85 year old man, waiting in line next to me in the store.

He was weathered and worn, with soft wrinkly skin and oversized
glasses (my dad likes to say he likes more glass for his money).
The line wasn't long but the minutes ticked on and instead
of getting impatient (for once in my life), I turned to
this man and we started talking.

I learned that he had served in World War II,
Vietnam and the Korean war.  I learned that his hearing had been
injured and that he used Phonak hearing aids.  I learned that he
went snowmobiling when he was 80 years old and belongs to a group
of men his age called Born Again Jocks.  The twinkle in his eye as
he shared that story brought a glow to his entire face. 
As he talked, I could feel myself smiling and feeling close to him
even though we'd only met. 

I owed this man something, but all
I could offer him was a place ahead of me in line, which he accepted under
protest.  A simple 'thank you for serving our Country' sounded so Hallmark,
but at the same time was completely and utterly heart-felt.

I left the store, never reaching my turn in line. 
I received the unexpected...
something that I didn't even know I came for:
A little more gratitude.

1 comment:

  1. What a tender experience. It reminds me of going to the Salt Lake temple, and having a dear old sweet man sit down next to me. He pulled out a tattered picture of his wife, who had passed away, and talked about how grateful he is for temples. It suddenly felt more real.