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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.”

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“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?”

“Navy.”

“But where?”

“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.”

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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.”

Wonder

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Just breathe ….

Let go

I push away

fear dissolves

Release …

me

standing there,

smiling

legs  firmly planted

mind searching for purchase.

lost

in thought

vacant smile

my eyes

I see

can’t understand

whirls – words – worlds

apart

and I breathe

let go

and walk away

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