DRUNKS OR HEROES?

My husband and I were standing at our living room window, watching a man walking down the distant road. The man lived nearby in a broken down house.  Every day he walked two miles to a neighborhood bar where he spent his time.

 

“Night fell, and darkness hid the two from sight”

He worked at walking.

Stumbling, weaving, tumbling, falling…and

Each night at dusk he headed home, deaf to traffic sounds.

Sometimes reeling into a roadside ditch, he would lie upon the ground in bleak half-conscious stupor.

With effort, he would crawl laboriously to the ditch’s edge, then work at walking once again.

 The man continued through his nightly ritual.

Someone approached the sodden hulk and  bending down, they knelt beside the fallen man.  With steady arms, they began the rescue.

 The person was not a hero. And I was a bystander.  Though years have passed, the vivid scene remains.

 Whose life is changed when a journey reaches a crossroad?  When is a path interrupted by a chance encounter?  Could it be the rescuer?  Perhaps it was a friend?  Maybe it was me as I watched this scene unfold.

 What are you thinking now?

 Night fell and darkness hid the two from my sight.

 THE RESCUE had begun.

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 * * * * * * * *

Many years have passed since this incident took place.

 While my husband and I were standing at our living room window, we saw a man walking along the distant road.

The man lived nearby in a broken down house.

And  each day he walked two miles

to a neighborhood bar

where he spent the entire day.

 We didn’t usually see him traveling on the morning journey to his destination. Nor did we see him when he was going home at the end of the day.  

But this time

 we saw him walking toward home.  As we watched, he staggered and stumbled, falling into the deep ditch beside the road.

For moments he was out of our sight.  Then, we saw him crawling out of the ditch and struggling to his feet.  Walking a few steps, he fell once more. Again, he crawled up the side of the ditch on his hands and knees

and attempted to stand.

 I became aware my husband had left my side. Now, in his truck, he was driving down our driveway toward the distant road. 

He stopped at the place where the man was lying beside the ditch. Getting out of his truck, he approached the figure.

 Taking him by the arm,

he helped the man to his feet.

 My husband later told me he intended to help him into the cab of the truck, but the man protested.

 “I’m not clean enough to sit in your truck.  Help me into the back.  I’ll ride home there.”

 As I watched this scene unfold before my eyes, I was surely not aware it would be in my memory and my heart many years later.

 How many of us, including me, would leave the comfort of our own home to help a drunken, smelly man get safely to his home?

 This was a view of my husband about which I wasn’t aware.  Yes, he was kind, gentle and caring.

 The scene I watched was more than that.

 The experience changed me and maybe it has changed you.

 At this stage of life it has become clear to me that we all need to be rescued.

Our Friend is on His way.

————–

 In later years, as we discussed the incident some facts revealed themselves about the man who was rescued.

 He was a veteran from World War 2.

 As years have passed, we’ve become aware of the experiences our soldiers endured during that time of war. 

They were too horrible to remember for many of the soldiers.

 We now call it PTSD.

 It has been found, for some of the veterans, it is easier to drink away the memories

than to relive them in their minds.

 In our village, there were three World War 2 veterans who spent their days at the same local bar.

 The world called them drunks. Should we call them heroes?

 How do you feel about it?

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LETTER FOR A SOLDIER RETURNING HOME

The older you grow the greater is your responsibility toward life, society, and the two people who created you, your Mother and Father.

 

To Don..from Bill….

 

April 22, 1930 – February 24, 2017

Note: To be opened the last morning you are at sea on going home to the USA.

16 February 1953

Dear Don,

When I came overseas many moons ago, I was sent with a letter from my Mother.  In it she stated how on long voyages years ago, people were sent with ship messages. There was then an age of letter writing which seems to have passed, except for the ghosts that may rove the skeleton of some long lost ship.  There was then wind in the sails and the creak of the boards of the ship at night.  There could be heard the rustle of silk in women’s dresses.

Men and women were probably doing just as we do today if given the opportunity.  That is, jumping from bunk to bunk.

 Right now, right at this living moment, I am writing this on the usual, sunless, dull, German day in the office of the captain.

In time, all our importance melts away, and yet as a part of history we remain an important factor in time.  The way you live, the love you have for life, the love you have for others and the understanding of them, the love you have for a woman and your unborn children are of great importance.

Whether you are ever known as an individual, it is the way you are which makes the “To Be” of a better world.  Now you are nearing home to the land that I love so deeply.  I would want to clain that land in a deeper way than you can in your youth.

Someday you will know what I mean.  Someday you will know that the earth in a bog swamp when you are out duck hunting is the cleanest mud in the world.

 Don’t ever forget that part of your life which you spent in a foreign land.  There were circumstances you did not like. They have helped to keep that mud as clean as it is. Sometimes Don, I hope you are looking at that lost land where you like to lose yourself.

You’ll find the air just a bit sharp.  You will like the smell that time of year.

Whether it is summer, fall, winter or spring, just breathe deeper because you are alive.

 God is in Nature and you are close to it and to Him.  In college it would be called Pantheism. I’d rather call it the awareness of Don knowing Don.  You can call it whatever.  It doesn’t matter what you call it just so you remember that when it happens and it will.

 The sea where you read this is deep.  Your feet will soon touch shore. Right now you are pipeline and lost.

 

Soon the inevitable pattern will establish itself.  You will be a civilian with all the responsibilities of one.  To drive safely, to love right, to build a home, and to vote are small and important things.  To be aware when you’re on a hunting trip

that you are the greatest being God ever made is imprtant too.

That’s about all I have to say, Don.

 

This is my shipboard letter to you with the exception of one thing.

The more you grow the more you will become aware of this.

The older you grow the greater is your responsibility toward life, society, and the two people who created you, your Mother and Father.

Your friend….

Meade

 

 

April 22, 1930-February 24, 2017

* * *

My husband, Don, passed away in 2017.
In going through his special drawer for saving things important to him,
 I found this letter. 
I didn’t know his friend “Meade”.
 I don’t need to know.

Although we shared 62 years of marriage, 
I didn’t know Don as a soldier, when he was newly discharged from the service.
 He would have celebrated his 87th birthday in April of 2017.

 His great respect for God, family and nature never ceased.

I hope you enjoyed this special letter

from “Meade”….

copyright©2017

Photographs By Mary Anne Tuck

 

https://youtu.be/TO3wNNZE9tk

Willie’s rendition of this song spoke deeply to me at the loss of my husband. I hope you enjoy the beauty of the melody and words…

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