Guess what I did today?
Whatever I wanted.
This point was brought home to me today courtesy of a chance encounter.
I went to do a little martial arts tonight.
On my way home I decided to get a little dinner. Subway. Perfect. Only one car there. Get a little protein, a cookie or two and be headed home to eat and relax.
When I parked I walked up to the door past a large, cream colored sedan. The license plates bore the symbol of the “Purple Heart”. My basic knowledge of this is that a recipient earns this if he is in the United States of America military and is injured during active duty.
I walked in to Subway and there were two tables with people in them.
One table held a gentleman around the age of 88 to 90. A beautiful woman sitting next to him about the same age. And a woman who bore a resemblance to both of them, sitting across the booth facing them. I smiled and went to the counter to order. I turned to look at them. I smiled at him.
While waiting for my food I had a conversation in my head:
I should tell them hi.
No, leave them alone.
Just say hi. They might appreciate it.
No, they might not appreciate being intruded upon.
While paying for my sandwich and cookies I managed to bungle everything because I didn’t have any pockets. I was dropping money and having a difficult time holding keys, phone, dollar bills, coins, a bottle of pop and keeping my cookies out so I could eat them quickly. I was hungry.
I got a little flustered. Obviously I’m not going to speak. I don’t want to not offer my hand to shake.
The poor boy at the register just looked at me while I was dropping and picking everything up. Finally I just dumped it all in the bag with my sandwich and left him relieved at the counter.
I walked up to the gentleman and his lovely women and asked “is that your car? With the purple heart?”
“Yes it is”. Before ‘it is’ was out of his mouth I had my hand out and he was just as quick to grab it.
I said “thank you very much for your service to us. I appreciate you.”
He said something softly that I couldn’t quite hear so I leaned in and said “was it World War II?”
Softly, so that I had to lean in. He said “yes ma’am. Second wave. June 6th, I was on the beach”. I pulled back in awe. And shock. I didn’t see a 90 year old man. I saw a soldier. I saw a man who saw things I would never be able to handle. He didn’t have to tell me the year. Or the beach. I knew what he meant.
His daughter, I presume, said “thank you so much for speaking to him”. His wife was saying “thank you” at the same time.
I told him that I appreciate everything he did for us. He said “it’s the one’s who didn’t come back that matter”.
I told him “you all matter to us”.
We exchanged some pleasantries.
But there sat another man, another soldier, that I truly owe my ability to do what ever I want to do. What ever I want to work for. What ever I want to vote for. What ever I want to appreciate in my life.
I owe it to him. And many like him.
I am lucky to have run in to him while I was out freely running around.