A little tug at the heartstrings

I’ve been MIA from the blog for a few weeks. Not because I want to but because life is just all over the place in good ways. David and I were away a few times, once with the boys and once alone. So my time to blog has been a little constrained for good reason. But I needed to share a little something near and dear to my heart.

logo_of_the_united_states_marine_corpsMost people close to me know that, David is a former Marine…let me add Once a Marine, Always a Marine, and he’s my Marine.

A few weeks ago he had an appointment and we ran into each other at the food store before he went to it, and would later meet up at home. While I was there, buying manzanella olives, and some pickles, I saw this older gentleman who seemed to have a little trouble reaching the canned vegetables. Now I’m a shorty, but I did offer my assistance to see if I could help him get what he needed. He was so thankful, and told me he was looking for the canned corn but couldn’t find it. It so happened to be on a lower shelf and I picked it up for him and he thanked me so much. I told him to have a good day and enjoy his dinner.

I finished up my shopping and checked out. When I got home, I made a little something to eat and cleaned up a little bit. David arrived soon after, and he had this look on his face. Something was off, but it wasn’t bad, it was just that he had a little sadness in his eyes.

What’s the matter? I asked

He then tells me before his appointment he went to the pizza shop to get a slice of pizza, and about 10 min later an older gentleman walked into the shop.

As David relayed the encounter he spoke as if he was the gentleman.

He walks in and asks the waitress “Am I allowed to eat there?” When she said yes, he then asks “Can I have chicken Parmigiano and do you have hot Italian bread?”. She said yes to both and she seemed a little shocked. He then asks “Can I sit here and eat it at a table? She tells him to go and pick any one he’d like and his food will be right out.

“I noticed right away he was wearing a hat, he was a WWII Vet. A Marine. I tried to get the waitresses attention, but she kept ignoring me. Finally I walked up to her and told her to add his meal to mine. And if he asked, Thank him for his service, from one Marine to another Marine”

 

David brought me to tears, and I’m sure he’s not to happy I’m writing about this, it’s personal, it’s at a level I didn’t understand, Marine to Marine, that is. But I do understand.

“He looked so alone, and as he asked if he could eat there, it just hit me.”

I asked if the gentleman was wearing grey sweatpants, and he said yes. I then told him my little story, it was the same man in the food store I had helped with his canned corn. We took a moment just thinking about it. I told him in his own way he made that mans night and I’m sure that he’d be grateful for the gesture.

 

Fast forward to yesterday, I’ve been having a few rough days, dealing with some stressful situations and finally got myself back to my chiropractor for a long overdue visit. It put me in a better mood, physically and emotionally. I had tried to meet up with my girlfriend for breakfast afterwards but being a new mom her little man was calling the shots. So instead I went to breakfast solo, and a little diner I haven’t been to in years. After my chiropractic session, I couldn’t imagine sitting at the counter on a stool with no back, so I asked the waitress if she minded if I sat at her 4 top table since there were 2 others available. She didn’t mind and I took the one closest to the door. image

I ordered my food, and table by table the place filled up. As I was finishing up my coffee and eggs, an older gentleman walked in, and he had a cane. I could see there were no tables left for him to sit at and so I took another sip of coffee and tried to get his attention. The waitress saw this and motioned to him, he turned around and I told him that if he would like he could have my table as I was finished with my breakfast.

“Thank you so much, it’s hard for me to sit on the stools with no back to them. These old bones don’t move that easily anymore. But I don’t want you to move or stop eating on account of me” he said

“Not a problem, I understand. And it’s not a bother, I’m finished and even if I wasn’t I’d just offer for you to sit with me at this big table. I always welcome company.”

He thanked me again and I moved my plate and cup to the counter. The waitress mouthed “Thank you” to me and I nodded. As I waited for her to take his order, it hit me.

Why not.

I caught her attention as she started to walk back around the counter, and whispered, “Add his bill to mine” She smiled and walked away to put his order in. When she got back around the other side of the counter she asked me are you sure. I said yes, add his to mine. When I paid her I told her if he asked to tell him, I wanted to brighten his day with a smile.

As I turned around to leave I saw him sitting in my chair and noticed his hat. A WWII Vet. A Marine. I touched his arm, fighting back tears, and said

“Thank you for your service, have a wonderful day, and enjoy your breakfast”

“Thank you, and thank you for the table. Have a good day” he said

I walked out the door, with tears welling up. I don’t really know why, except that I did. I’m an emotional person, always have been. Heck as I’m typing this whole thing I’m fighting back tears.

I don’t write this post to brag about, David (he’s probably not going to like this at first because he doesn’t like to talk about himself or what he does) or myself for that matter. I write it because what a small gesture as these may be, can possibly make someones day a little brighter, a little less lonely. It is ironic that both men, completely different, yet so similar.

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What I do hope you take from this post is the next time you see someone, pay it forward, just for the heck of it. Buy a coffee, buy a donut, buy a meal. I did it because he was an older gentleman and he kinda tugged at my heartstrings, I had no idea he was a Veteran.

Forever grateful for your service and sacrifice. Happy Veterans Day!

Back in August I had the privilege to stand alongside The Patriot Guard Riders, as they payed honor to a Veteran who had been called home.

I sometimes don’t write blog posts as they occur in my life, because I want to give proper justice to something that resonates so deeply within my soul. This post is one of them. And it hit me today that this was the time to post it.

Today is Veterans Day. A day we give thanks to Veterans who have put their life on the line to serve our country and protect its people. Although I feel we should do this everyday. We have probably all seen a flowing stream of Thank You’s all over social media today, thanking our Veterans. So I want to talk about how a group of people come together to pay honor to those who pay the ultimate sacrifice. They stand at funerals holding Old Glory, they escort family members from funeral homes to their final resting places, they do honor flights for service members. They stand up for those who stood for us.

They are, The Patriot Guard Riders.

On this particular day, I had volunteered to stand alongside Veterans, parents of service members, and volunteers like me for the final mission for a homeless veteran named, Angel. The funeral home posted that they were not sure if he had family and funeral services and interment were happening in a few days. The Patriot Guard Riders had stepped up to show gratitude for his services and to honor him on his final journey. IMG_6546

That morning we assembled at the entrance to Calverton National Cemetery, in Calverton NY. I was greeted by one of The Patriot Guard Riders, Gene who instructed us to take stand at the entrance as we were each given an American Flag to hold. Accompanying me was my friend’s son and her nephew. Her son had done this before but it was a first for her nephew and I.  IMG_6565

This was not the only funeral to be had this somber day, and each time a procession was entering the cemetery we would stand at attention proudly holding the flags as the hearse and accompanying limos ushering family members drove by. Chills are all I could feel with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I did not know the story of all of the Veterans who entered that day, but knowing that I could at least stand for them on their final journey made a simple “Thank you for your service” seem a little more appropriate.

Once the procession began to flow in, the amount of riders that followed increased tenfold. Obviously at that point my attention and priority was solely on the service and not taking photos. We packed up the flags and headed into the cemetery to regroup and begin again. We lined the walkway in a sea of flags and tears as the service began for, Angel.

The stories that began to be told by the officiant expressed a deep love of country from a man who, although homeless would often be the one donating time, food, clothing and even money to a local church. How can one person, who is without shelter be so full of selflessness and a giving nature. Yet often we see people who have an over abundance of material wealth, giving so little of themselves to the less fortunate? A particular story was of a day he had needed new socks. The church’s outreach had bought a package of socks, and since Angel only needed one pair he wanted to donate the rest to someone who may need it more than him. He would put money in the church’s offering basket, he would donate food to the pantry. To say that tears were flowing from every person in attendance is far from an exaggeration. The heat was strong that day, and standing for Angel for about 2 hours was the least we could do, for all he had done.

I don’t know his whole story, just snippets of a life of service. How he became homeless is not within my knowledge. But the case of Veterans who become homeless after service is overwhelmingly staggering. As well as depression, PTSD and a myriad of other problems to follow.

More should be done for those who have done so much for all of us. They courageously and selflessly put their lives on the line so that we as common citizens can enjoy the lives we have built.

How about we take the time Everyday to thank them for their service. Buy them a cup of coffee, a meal at a restaurant, volunteer some time to a Veterans charity, or organization. Take a little time out of the day you are so lucky to have to pay it forward.