When Johnny Comes Marching Home

 

It is no secret, I love all the seniors I get to interact with as a caregiver.  I feel a true sense of joy in being able to sit with a senior and listen to their stories and help them with their activities of daily living.  I smile when I see them and do my best to leave them with a smile on their faces.

Here’s the secret, there are seniors that make me want to do just a little more: our veterans.

Veterans will always have a special place in my heart.  I grew up in a family surrounded by veterans.  My dad was a Marine in Vietnam, both of my grandfathers were in the Army during WWII, one of my great-grandfathers was in the Army during WWI, an uncle was in Vietnam as a Navy Corpsman, other uncles have served in the Air Force, Army, and Navy. My brother was in the Air Force.  I have cousins currently in the Air Force and a nephew in the Coast Guard. There are also great-uncles who served during WWII, so many of my family have served and I feel honored by their service.

When I would take Grandpa out and about he would wear a ball cap that said WWII Veteran on the front and we would often be stopped by people who would thank him for his service.  He would sit up straighter, stand up straighter and smile.  It gave him a feeling of pride in himself, he felt like he was worthwhile and that what he had done in his life mattered to others.

There were a couple of times in particular when a stranger did something extra that made the day extra special and I would like to publicly thank those people for their random acts of kindness.

The first was a couple of years ago just before Mother’s Day.  We started a tradition with Grandpa of going to the cemetery the day before Mother’s Day to put flowers on Grandma’s grave and the graves of my step-grandma and all the other family members buried in the cemetery, including my two uncles who had died as infants.  We would invite as many family members to join us as possible and it was a wonderful day of remembrance.

So, Grandpa and I went out to the store the day before to buy a couple of bouquets of flowers.  In the check out line I was reminding Grandpa why we were getting the flowers, while waiting for the person in line ahead of us to pay for her purchases.  When it was our turn to pay, the cashier told us the total and it was well below what I knew it should be.  The cashier pointed at the lady who had been ahead of us and said that she had given some money for our flowers.  I thanked the lady for her kindness and she explained that her dad had served in WWII and she wanted to do something to express her gratitude for his service and that of all the others.  It was clear in her eyes and expression that she loved and missed her dad.  Both Grandpa and I were honored and humbled by her way of showing her gratitude towards her beloved father.

The second wonderful citizen we encountered at our local American Legion.  Grandpa and I went there one day for a social event around the time to renew dues for the next year.  As Grandpa was pulling out his checkbook a kind lady came up and asked: “Is this young man signing up for the first time?” Grandpa chuckled.  She then opened her purse and pulled out the money to pay Grandpa’s annual dues.  She told him that it was her way of thanking him for his service.

I firmly believe that by thanking our veterans, by showing them some random acts of kindness that we are enriching our own lives.  So, yes, I love all the seniors I serve but the veterans will always have a special place in my heart.

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