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2012-11-08 digital edition

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2012-11-08 / Church

THEY SAID IT

(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

I’m Kind of Vague on That

Sam and Pete are World War II veterans. They live on the same hall in an assisted living facility. They sit together at meals. Their favorite colors are olive green and khaki.

I had the pleasure of eating dinner with them one evening. It was a conversation I’ll never forget.

Sam was in the Army. “They sent me to Europe. I was in the Battle of Bulge,” he said.

He paused for a moment.

“Bad. Awful things happened there. Just awful,” he continued, wincing.

Sam sighed deeply, bowed his head, and pulled his olive green cap down over his eyes. Pete turned, looked at Sam, and laid a trembling hand on his shoulder.

“I was in the Marines,” Pete shared. “I was at Pearl Harbor.”

He paused and took a deep breath.

“And I was at Okinawa. Beautiful place. I heard they made it a resort, like Hawaii.” He shook his head. “Bad business, Okinawa. I’m kind of vague on it. Bad, bad business.”

Pete stared at his food. Sam still sat motionless, head bowed. Silence reigned.

After several moments I said, “Gentlemen, on behalf of myself, my family, and a grateful country, thank you.”

Pete raised his head. A solitary tear stole down his cheek. Sam sniffed, wiped his nose with a handkerchief, and continued staring at his lap.

“Bad, bad business,” Pete said, with a far-away look in his eye.

Pete and Sam are still paying the price for our freedom. They deserve our respect and our thanks.

Thank you, veterans. Thank you.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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