For some reason, I have never been close to anyone who has been off to a war. That I know of, at least. There is a possibility that some of my cousins may have gone to serve…and if they have…speak up, family…let me know. My Pop was in the Navy, and my niece’s husband is in the Guard.
But recently, I found myself sharing a ride with a hero. There was me, and 2 couple riding on a tourist van. Let’s call them Back Couple and Side couple. I was alone for just a few minutes, and then at a motel stop, two couples came to ride with me. They were all prepared for a day on the beach. From the way the were acting, I do not think they knew each other.
Back Man…”This is the life, no working, just laying out and playing all day. I could really get used to this.”
Back Woman…”Seems to me you have gotten used to it, but, it’s time to grow up and get a job.”
Back Man…”Watch out woman. We’re paying our bills and we got food on the table. The kids have toys, and we are on a fine vacation.”
Back Woman…”That’s because I’m working double shifts at the hospital…and I am tired. I want to be able to spend some time with the kids.”
Back Man…”Well, you know how hard it is to get a job.” Then addressing the Side Man, he said, “What kind of work do you do?”
Side Man…”Well, I’m not working at all right now. But, I plan to get busylooking next week. I’ve got a baby on the way!”
Back Man says to Side Woman…”You working?”
Side Woman…”Yes, I’ve been cleaning houses. That’s the only thing I could find. But, it’s paying well.
Back Man to Side Man…”Well, Man, you just need to take it easy. Let your Old Lady work. You got no worries!”
Side Man…”No, this vacation is my time to take it easy. I’ll be finding a job next week. Then she can rest.”
Back Man…” How long you been out of work, Man?”
Side Man…” Oh, I haven’t been out of work. I’ve been in Afghanistan, and Iraq.”
Side Man…with a quick glance at his wife…”Nah, not much.”
Side Woman…”I’m just glad to have him home. And, he doesn’t have to go back.”
Back Man…”Well, I wouldn’t have gone over there in the first place. You crazy, Man. You can’t tell what those folks will do. No, you wouldn’t ever see me going over there.”
Back Woman…looking very disgusted at the Back Man…” No, you wouldn’t have gone. You won’t even work in the States, you sure wouldn’t work overseas in the army. That’s way too much work for you.” She finished her sentence and then turned her back and looked out the window.
Back Man looked around, chest puffed out, wanting the rest of us passengers to see what a fine man he was.
Side Woman looked up at her husband and smiled.
Side Man leaned over and kissed her. She lay her head on his shoulder.
Older, But Still Cute, Woman…looking at the Side Man…”Excuse me, Sir, but I’d like to thank you for being willing to serve our country. I appreciate you and your wife for sacrificing for people like me. To me, you are a hero.”
Side Man: with tears in his eyes,”It was my privilege, Ma’am…my privilege.”
And,the five of us rode in silence to the beach drop off. Side Man and Woman got off, smiling and anxious to go play in the beautiful sand and surf.
The Back Man got up and walked to the front of the bus. He turned around and looked at Back Woman, who was still sitting and looking out the window, “Woman, You coming?”
She slowly got up and followed him. He ran off, fancy free, while she was struggling with two floats and a big beach bag and towels. I watched out the window as the Side Man and Side Woman noticed her. They went to her and took the floats and the bag…and the three of them walked off toward the beach…
I rode on, alone, to the hotel. I’ve thought of that many times since then…and today seemed to be the time to share.
Happy Memorial Day!