Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Veteran

My Dad, 194?, around 19 years old
I know I’m all about the witty little ramblings of day-to-day life and such. Barely a serious moment in my writings (only way I keep sane is to make my life amusing!)

But this morning I was grumbling on about how I had to go out and catch the stupid dog who ran away and was harassing the neighbors again, in the rain, before coffee.... and how my nails need another visit to the salon - where they can again ridicule my eyebrows .... and other various nonsense like this when I had an odd flashback as I noticed an American flag on a mailbox across the street.
A few years ago my dad was in a VA hospital in Tampa, busy with the task of dying. Now he had lived an incredibly full and varied life and was not dying overly young or anything like that - but it always takes me back a minute when I realize how many young people are at VA hospitals.

Hubby, the boy child and I were down at the hospital and were visiting with Dad in the Cardiac Care Unit. It was, as you can imagine, a very depressing place and the child was completely freaked out by it (he was only 3 I think) so Hubby and I were taking turns visiting Daddy while the other walked the child around the grounds and such.

I had taken them both back to the hotel for a while as the boy was just done in by the whole thing - and I had come back to the VA hospital alone. I walk into the lobby of the hospital. There’s not a soul behind the counter, nor were there any hospital staff wandering around that I could see. Completely empty. I'm starting to walk toward the elevators when I hear someone very politely call me, “Ma’am, could you please come here for a moment?”

I look over to the far side of the lobby/waiting area and see one lone guy in a wheelchair. I walk closer and realize that not only is he a paraplegic, but he’s only in his early 20's. His mouthpiece that controls the wheelchair has fallen away from his mouth. He was completely unable to move in any way without the mouthpiece. Who knows how long he had been sitting there in that empty lobby waiting for someone to come along. He very calmly and nicely asked me to please put his mouthpiece back up to his mouth.

My Lord, I wanted to take him home, cook him dinner, take care of him the rest of the day, push his chair somewhere, adopt him, read him a book, anything!

But he only wanted his mouthpiece back in. He said thank you and moved his chair down the hallway back to wherever it was he had come from.

I will admit that I just stood there for another few minutes, looking down the empty hallway. (As a sub note - still no one had come into the lobby.)

I then went back to my dad.

So that’s just the thought I had this morning, when 10 seconds before I had been doing nothing but bitching about my nails and my dog and a slow coffee pot.

So many have sacrificed so much for this country so that I can sit and whine about these silly things.

To them I say Thank You

Originally posted by Idgie in 2001 or so