Sunday, March 13, 2011

They're Sending the Old Man Home

He's afraid he's talking too much.

"I don't have anybody to talk to at home," he explains.  

It's okay, I assure him.  No problem at all.  

He fought in World War II, he says.  An infantryman in the Army.  He went to Italy and fought the Germans there.  The Nazis were fortified up in the hills and mountains; his platoon was below, hiding in the valley.

Another soldier wanted to get up and run.  He told him to stay in the hole, that moving now would reveal their position, put the whole platoon at risk.

"Says who?" the soldier demanded.

"Says this bullet in this rifle," he replied.  

The soldier stayed put, but later reported him to the senior officer.  The major took his side, told him he'd done the right thing.  

"I wanted to keep my boys safe," he says.  "All of them."  

Some of his friends from boot camp died in Normandy, he says.  Omaha Beach.  They were hillbillies, loved playing guitar and singing bluegrass music.  He took a liking to them, because his mother was from Appalachia.  He sings me a line from one of the songs they used to sing.  

They both died getting off the transports.  Never even made it to shore, as far as he knows.  

"Put your hands together and bring your elbows up," I tell him.  "Like you're saying a prayer."

He does that a lot, he says.  Talks to Him all the time.  

He's married and his wife is still living, but she's in a home now.  They're going to put him in a home now too, because he can't take care of himself anymore.  He's sure they'll take good care of him there.  It'll be a nice place.    

He loves our hospital.  Says it's where he always likes to come.  We take good care of him.  We're good people.  

He's still talking as the transporter wheels him away.  

I finish my paperwork, but I'm still thinking about a kid in Italy under German fire, and an old man in a hospital on his way to a nursing home, and I feel small.  


Anonymous said...

One of your best, in my opinion.

Mama said...

That made me cry

Anonymous said...

Way to make your sister cry on a Sunday afternoon when we've lost an hour of our lives!

Scott said...

Oh, this is just fiction. I made it up.

Just kidding :)

Serene Musings Books of the Year, 2005-2015