Grey Cardigan Man
I sat in one of the two chairs next to the blood pressure machine, waiting for my sons prescription in the pharmacy.
I don’t mind waiting.
I’ve always told Nicholas, “there are people who would give anything to be in this line right now.”
I like watching people. Making eye contact – smiling.
I sat and a thin, old man approached using a cane. He sat next to me on the blood pressure machines hard seat.
“Would you like to sit here?” I asked.
“No, I’m fine.”
I noticed his ball cap – “Veteran” on the back of it in yellow. And I noticed his cardigan – grey – atop his checkered button up shirt. He wore slippers. I was instantly pulled to him.
I watched him thumb through a magazine that was on the counter. Meticulously turning the pages – I noticed his tissue paper hands. I was mesmerized.
The seat to my left opened up and he closed the magazine, rose, and took it.
“I love your cardigan.”
“It’s old.” He replied.
“It’s dapper” I countered.
“I bought this in the 50’s.”
“Wow … that’s some quality.”
I noticed the WWII Navy emblem on the front of his cap and debated whether or not to ask.
My curiosity won out.
“Where did you serve?”
“In the Pacific – on a carrier … one of the biggest ones.” He checked my face before he went on, “We were hit a couple of times … by the Japs.”
I flinched inside at the slur – but bit my tongue – considering the source and what he must have been through. Adding the fact that our encounter was brief and who would I be to ‘educate’ this man who had sacrificed for his country and watched his brothers in arms killed in war.
“Lost a lot of men – lucky to make it home.”
I held his gaze – he had surprisingly clear, blue eyes.
“Well … thank you.” And I meant it.
He seemed to be summing me up. He looked at me harder then – before saying, “You’re welcome. And, thank YOU.”