Life. It's a wonder, isn't it? Just when you think, well, just when you actually think, then that's when you realize you haven't got it figured out and the people you know surprise you once again.
This week I was surprised. Not really by who did something. Not by what was done. Let me tell you about it.
My husband has had reason to visit a VA medical facility once a week for several weeks. This Wednesday was his last visit for awhile. When he travels the 100 miles there he allows plenty of time for construction or other delays. This typically means he gets there in advance of his appointment and can venture into the Veterans' cafeteria for a quick and simple lunch.
This week he crossed the threshold about the time a World War II vet wheeled himself into the cafeteria, having been dropped off at the door by the transport driver.
The vet had $1 to his name. A single, one-dollar bill. A World War II veteran, one of the Greatest Generation, a soldier in the war to end all wars had 100 pennies. He approached the cafeteria worker and humbly asked what he could buy for lunch with his dollar.
Fortunately my double Purple Heart, Bronze Star guy earned yet another medal of service that day by telling this honorable fellow vet that he could have whatever he wanted and it would be the Vietnam vet's honor to buy him lunch.
It would be so easy to start a rampage about what's wrong with sending any elderly, wheelchair bound person out with no more than a dollar. Whoever readied him for the day's experience knew it would get him nothing. Imagine. After all those years, never totally losing the memories of the closeness, the personalness of those battles, and being displaced without the possibility of even being able to buy half a sandwich.
Rather, let's think about the brotherhood and how connected the vets are. Those of us who have never been in our country's service don't get it. We just don't grasp what it is to wake up each day wondering if this could be the last day of life.
It could be.
Maybe we should grasp that notion.
Maybe we'd buy lunch for a stranger and say a kind word more often.
The big things we complain about suddenly seem small and inconsequential; the little things we do make our hearts fly.
Yes, I was surprised. Not by what my husband did or for whom he did it.
I was surprised that we sat their across from each other with tears in our eyes. Were they tears of sadness for the situation he found? Were they tears of joy for being able to change it?