We were playing dominoes last night, about the only game they can get me to join them at the game table, and there was a light knock on the door. I think it startled all of us because we had not heard neither a car pull in, nor footsteps on the wooden porch, nor the screen door open and shut. Irritating Little Chihuahua had not even barked.
It was a dear old friend. A Viet Nam vet who grew up in my husband’s neighborhood and has become a best friend to me too.
For many years, the three of us were like the three musketeers. We spent evenings together; at our home, or at his home, at the pizza parlor, movies, or mutual friend’s homes. We built decks together, got drunk together, and mainly just spent a lot of hours in each other’s company, talking. We lost touch when we moved to Wyoming. Now, we live about four hours away and here he was, knocking on our door.
He loved history, and enlisted for Viet Nam. He said he “wanted to be a part of history.” He got more than he bargained for, and has three purple hearts and his own demons. He is a rather slightly built fellow and was a natural to go into the tunnels. I will not tell his story here. He is still dealing with it, but he wanted to pay us back for what he perceived as a favor we did for him long ago. At the time and still, I called it ‘helping a friend.’ What did we do? We forced him to go into Chicago with us to see the traveling ‘Wall.’ A simple thing, but what he needed.
Now, with two grandsons in the Army, I hope they have friends who will help them also. They will all need friends, who do simple things for them, who will listen to them and then, as we did, perhaps go to see what is the right thing to do at a Vet center, and be there for them.