by Jaye Lewis
I was feeling my age that morning as I limped from the parking lot up
to the Physical Therapy Building.
I was pushing fifty. I was crippled and I was feeling like a failure.
Thankfully, I was happily married. However, health problems had cut short
my dreams of finishing my education. Gloomily, I couldn't recall a thing
that I had ever done that was important.
My thoughts became more disheartened when I noticed the middle aged
man limping in front of me -- his long gray hair blowing in the wind. I
just knew I'd be stuck in the waiting room with him. I was in no mood for
a conversation. I knew I was in for a long and painful wait.
By the time I reached the hallway, one of the two chairs available was
occupied by the gray-haired man. Reluctantly, I took my seat next to him,
hoping that I could bury myself within the pages of an outdated magazine.
My bubble of protection was immediately interrupted by his curious
stare. I looked up with a sigh. He gave me an uncertain smile as our eyes
"I know you," he said.
"No you don't."
"Yes, I'm certain I know you."
"I'm not from here," I insisted.
"No. I've met you someplace before."
"That's impossible. I'm certain we've never met."
"I feel that I know you from long ago," he said, with conviction.
In spite of myself, I was intrigued. We played "twenty questions,"
and we finally got around to the Vietnam War and San Francisco.
He had served in the Army. He'd been wounded in battle, and he was
darned proud of it.
"I didn't do anything important," I said. "I served stateside, as a
U.S. Navy WAVE, at San Francisco International Airport. I married way too
soon and I was discharged when I became pregnant," my voice trailed off.
Suddenly, the man became very excited.
"I remember receiving help from a young WAVE," he grinned, "with red
hair just like yours! It was in the spring of '67, when I came back
wounded from Vietnam."
"I've never seen anyone like her, before or since. She moved heaven
and earth to make sure that I was well taken care of. She was a tiger, all
right. I was badly wounded, barely dragging on crutches. She got me into
a wheelchair, and she literally ran after a local bus, making them stop.
Then she nearly carried me on board, giving the driver careful instructions
to make sure that I arrived at the hospital, safe and sound. And then she
called to see how I was!
"I didn't see her, again, until four months later, when I was heading
home, still on crutches. All I saw was this WAVE fighting like a wildcat,
trying to get away from some drunken sailor."
Chills crept up my spine as I remembered the wounded soldier who had
"I just couldn't let that girl be ill-treated, after all she had done
for me. I threatened that sailor with one of my crutches and he finally
put her down. I escorted her back to her desk..."
"And then you went and got the sailor," I choked on the words, "and
you made him apologize to me."
Tears streamed down my cheeks, as I remembered that day, and him.
How could this happen? My rescuer from 1967 was sitting next to me,
twenty-five years later and half a continent away. Our lives had come full
circle, and there we sat -- thanking each other for a mutual kindness, long
We talked for a long time, and then we parted. I learned some
important truths that day.
First, people are seldom what they seem to be, at first glance.
Second, kindness is its own reward. It changes the lives of both parties.
Last, I learned that though my time was short, I had served my
country, simply by serving those who had sacrificed everything.
I continued that day a happier woman because I understood that a
kindness given will often return to bless you again.
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Feb 20 @ 11:04AM
Thank you,Gry, this was Just what I needed this morning.
Have a wonderful, wonderful day, and again, thank you for posting this 'today' ...
Feb 20 @ 1:06PM
Warm and Heartfelt.....kudos.
Feb 20 @ 1:25PM
You just don't know How much those words mean to me right now. Everytime I have to go to a VA appointment I sit waiting my turn and look at all the other people sitting there, thinking about what I did during my career and what I know some of them did during thiers. During my 18 1/2 years of Army service I never got the opportunity to pick up my rifle in conflict, but those words made me realize that no matter what we think we have done or not done, as long as we did our job the best way we could, someone else was able to do thiers and maybe even a little better. Thank you for posting this and May all your days be Blessed........