I’ve watched him from my balcony almost every day since we moved here. He shuffles slowly, to and fro, twice a day. His hunched posture and pace suggest old age. He is largely ignored by bustling people as he makes his pilgrimage around the neighborhood.
Today I was walking the dogs and happened to be in his path. I almost continued on without stopping but I noticed his hat: Veteran. I said hello and was greeted with an almost toothless grin. He said, “Hello my name is Jeffrey.”
I introduced myself and explained that I had seen him take his daily walks from my balcony. He laughed and told me he is usually headed to the local bar for lunch and a few cocktails. He then proceeded to tell me he had served as a Sergeant in the US Air Force. He said he had been stationed in Turkey, swam in the Mediterranean Ocean, loved the Bazaar, had a maid, and a personal guide.
He had lived in Turkey, 90 miles from the ocean, almost three years. He told me about a blue Mosque he had frequented; it had a special prayer/wishing hole – if you put your finger in your prayer would be answered. George Bush had gone there to do the same thing when he was President, Jeffrey thought that was pretty cool. He said it made him sad the way the media portrayed Muslims because he had very fond memories of Turkey and that Muslims were some of the nicest people he’d ever met.
The dogs were getting antsy so I bid him farewell and thanked him for his service. Jeffrey stood up as straight as he could, looked me in the eye, and told me he was very proud to have served his country.
I am not sure if I believe in coincidences, fate, or meant to be’s. But I truly believe I was supposed to cross paths with this Veteran today. To remind me, to humble me, and to take pause. Happy Memorial Weekend to all who serve and who have served. Jeffrey – Thank you for the reminder of selflessness and grace.