Friday, July 04, 2014

The Man Who Walks With A Walker

My next door neighbor's name is Frank. He moved in several months ago, replacing my long-time neighbors, the Reeds. I miss the Reeds- they picked up my mail for me during all my mission trips and drives to Kansas for Thanksgiving and Christmas, a big deal in my book! Frank is a very nice man, very much the gentleman. I can always hear him coming down the hall- he uses a walker which makes a little noise- and he often coughs loudly enough for me to hear him through the apartment walls. We've introduced ourselves but you don't see folks much in an apartment complex. There's no sitting on the porch or waving to the folks next door as they check their mailbox and you mow the grass, like we did in York, Nebraska in the summertime. Friendliness passes for friendship when your address is an apartment.

Yesterday morning, I was coming back home from working out and my return coincided with Frank's leaving. We exchanged pleasantries as he locked his door. I told him I was going to be out of the country for close to a month in Vietnam- he asked where and I told him, Can Tho, working with a church for a fourth consecutive summer. Frank asked if had ever visited a village I had never heard of. He told me it was north of Saigon. Innocently and without thinking, I asked Frank if he had ever been to Vietnam. I doubt I will ever forget his simple reply:
"That's why I have this walker."

So now I know why I can always hear Frank every time when he travels down our hall, and maybe even why he coughs constantly. Our journeys in life led both of us through Vietnam at least forty years apart. I've gone voluntarily. I don't know if Frank enlisted or was drafted- it doesn't matter. He served. Both of us came back changed; Frank physically, at least, and I would guess on a much deeper level in the manner maybe only combat veterans can perceive. My change is less obvious but I hope in some way as profound to my existence. You and I, we owe guys like Frank, those who came back and those who didn't. And so on this 238th birthday of our great nation, I just have one thing to say to Frank and his brothers and sisters in arms. Thank you.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Our veterans accepted the responsibility to defend America and uphold our values when duty called."

Bill Shuster

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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