Old Soldiers Never Die; They Just Fade Away?
by Jeanne E Webster 10/25/2010 / Missions
copyright 2010 Jeanne E. Webster
"It's time for your shower, Mr. Tilden." He rolled over, slowly realizing another day had arrived; the nightmares are over, for a while.
"Hurry up, Mr. Tilden, there's others waiting for their shower."
Mumbling, he sat up and scooted over to his bedside chest of drawers. Pulling clean shorts and tee-shirt out of the middle drawer, he laid them on his bed.
"Man, they look ragg'dy. When I get some money by, gotta git me some new ones."
The aroma of coffee and grease wafting in from the kitchen told him he'd soon be eating the same old breakfast fare he'd had for the last three years: scrambled eggs, sausage gravy, toast and coffee.
"What I'd give for a ham omelet with the works or a heap pile of flatcakes with lots' o' butter and syrup and real sausages 'n hash browns," he reminisced. "Yep, that'd be one fine day. Yeah."
Throwing that thought into the trash bin, he pulled, pushed, dragged, and yanked his pajamas off and flopped his threadbare bathrobe over his shoulders and back. The aide would help him get it under his body so he'd be decent enough to go shower. Waiting for her return, he dismally looked at the photos of his kids sitting atop the chest of drawers.
"Man, I sure miss you guys! Can't ya stop by and see the old man once in a while? I get so lonesome to see y'all. You could at least write once in a while."
"Well, good morning, Mr. Tilden, how are you today?" asked the aide, rushing in to get him "decent" for his shower. Disgruntled, he accepted the assistance and down the hallway they flew, the aide steering his wheelchair in the direction of the shower room.
Since he had lost his legs in 'Nam, he'd had one heck of a time getting used to needing help from anyone. His pride broke down eventually as he resigned himself to the truth of the matter. But it still gnawed on him and he hated feeling useless and unwanted. His health was failing him more and more every day. First it was his leg amputations, and then diabetes, eye infections, and just last week the doc put him on medication for his heart.
He knew in his heart that his kids loved him but they were too busy with their own lives to visit as much as he'd like. If he could just get out of this nursing home and get back on his own, he would feel better in no time. "Nah, it ain't in the cards. I'm jes worn out." His thoughts carried him away to days of yore when times were carefree and life was happy. He lived in his "thought world" to escape the reality that faced him as he awoke each morning. He dreaded the nights; they brought ghastly visions. The days were no better, only bringing the realization that he was ever so slowly dying, apart from family and friends. "I jes wanna go home. That's all."
What was it someone once said? "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away."
Dear sisters and brothers in the Lord, this story is to remind you of Veteran's Day coming up next month, Nov. 11th. How about honoring our veterans with a sacrifice of our own? Invest some time in a visit, a card, a phone call, maybe even a trip "outside" for them? They sacrificed their lives and livelihood so we could remain safe and free; now it's our time to "report for duty."
Let's see to it our veterans are safe and living in healthy and well run facilities. Too many obstacles are facing them today: mold infested rooms, shoddy treatments, despicable and dangerous medical care and a horrendous lack of respect for the honor that is too long overdue. Check on the facilities in your area. Let your senators and representatives know that you are concerned about the quality of care our veterans receive. We owe them that...and more.
Our veterans need to know they are not alone and we shall never let them "just fade away." Never!