2017-04-13 / Church

“Silent Warfare”

Rev. Gary Roe

Carl was a World War II veteran. He fought in the Pacific, including Saipan and Iwo Jima. He didn’t talk about this. He couldn’t. In his late eighties, Carl found himself facing another enemy: Alzheimer’s disease, complicated by chronic battle PTSD. “He’s the bravest man I’ve ever known. He’s been fighting a silent, internal war for decades,” his son Mack said. Carl lived in a facility, in a locked-down memory unit. He was comfortable, and freely roamed the hallway and dining room. He allowed me to walk alongside him. He smiled at me occasionally. He never spoke a word. He had kind, gray eyes.

One day, I entered the memory unit and was greeted by a commotion. Carl was sandwiched in-between two couches turned on their sides, yelling loudly, fighting off staff members with amazing accuracy and strength. After a moment, they backed off, leaving Carl crouching, staring at them over one of the cushions. Everyone agreed to back off and give Carl his space. I sat down in the dining hall and waited. After a few minutes, Carl slowly stood up. He moved one couch, and waddled over my direction. “Want to take a walk, Carl?” I asked. Carl nodded, and off we went down the hall.

I wonder how many battles Carl has fought in his mind? I’m in awe of Carl. When I walk beside him in the hallway, I’m aware I’m in the presence of a rare form of greatness and sacrifice. Just standing beside him is an honor.

We have heroes in our midst.

Gary Roe is an award-winning author, speaker, and chaplain with Hospice Brazos Valley. Visit his website at: www.garyroe.com or contact him at groe@hospicebrazosvalley.org or 979-821-2266.

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