I walked into Walgreen’s in December and a tall, thin white-haired man walked in. His appearance, impeccable. Shoes shined. Pants pressed. Hair perfectly combed.
He had on a brown leather jacket with the words “Air Force” stitched on them.
For some reason, I just had to talk to him. He had too much wisdom in his grey hairs and held a library of stories from obviously being retired from the military.
I walked up to him and somehow started a conversation with him. I felt star-struck speaking with this gentleman. But regardless, I let my mouth ramble on in my slight anxiety of not knowing what to do. I told him I was writing war-themed book based on the military. We chatted, and then he did something so endearing.
I asked him what he did in the military and he said he was a fighter pilot in Vietnam. Then, he bent over and touched my son’s head and said, “I hope you never have to do that little guy.”
For some reason, this warmed my heart. He stood up and the atmosphere chilled, as if he just realized that he was no longer talking to an 18 month old, but was again facing the ugliness of society.
We parted ways and that was that.
Except it wasn’t.
I forgot to say something so important to him
I forgot to thank him for his service. I was ashamed.
I went back to that Walgreen’s the very next day with a Christmas card in hand, apologizing for my utter stupidity and ignorance and thanked him for his service and sacrifice, leaving it with the clerk in hopes of him receiving it.
I went back in February of this year and asked the same clerk if he had gotten the card yet and she replied, “no.”
It’s nine days till August and my son broke my mom’s reading glasses, so I just so happened to stop at that Walgreen’s today to replace them. I saw the same attendant, one I haven’t seen since February.
For some reason I decided to ask if he ever got my Christmas card.
Her eyes lit up! “I have something for you!” She exclaimed.
Oh wow, I was excited now!
He got it!
She reached behind the counter and pulled out an envelope.
I opened it and it was dated in March, 2015.
In the note, he expressed appreciation of my concern and gratitude in my appreciation of his service.
He left me his contact information, letting me know he would like to keep up with me and wanted to know when my book would be published.
I can’t say what an honor it is to have received a piece of mail in a non-conventional way.
The mystique of the process, the adventure of the accomplishment, lends one a bit of a rush in today’s per-determined trafficked systems.
I am thrilled to have received such a special response from a soldier that knows the heart-wrenching sacrifice of bravery.
So my deepest gratitude is to you, sir, the real superhero!