Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Gift from the Heart

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The majority of us learn the most from our parents.

It is from them that I have learned that the greatest joy in life is not from what is received, but from what is given of oneself to others...A gift from the heart.

They served our Country for a total of seven years...Dad in the Air Force and Mom in the Army...but it has been over the past 35 years that they have continued to pour their hearts into the lives of military men and women.

I am thankful for my heritage. Thankful that they served our Country and continue to this day- to encourage sons,daughters,uncles,aunts,dads,and moms etc. here in the United States and abroad as they now serve as missionaries to the military.

This morning on my way to taking my son to basketball practice...I didn't take my cell phone, I kept the radio off, and drove down our old route (SPEED BUMPS AND ALL!) and we prayed.

As we talked about Veteran's Day, I reminded him that if he ran into anybody at the gym who may be a Veteran-to be sure to thank them for their service to our Country. He listed the men he knew had served and assured me he would thank them if he were to see them.

As I drove out of the school parking lot, I noticed I was driving on empty AGAIN! I can't stand stopping for ANYTHING when I haven't had a shower, brushed my hair or teeth and have my slippers on!

Reluctantly, I pulled up to the gas station and found the least intimidating gentleman to help me. I stuffed a piece of gum in my mouth, rolled my window down and asked for $30.00 of premium... not really wanting to "chat".

I HAD to say good morning and ask how he was. It wasn't his fault I was running late and a bit irritated. How RUDE would that be? As I wished him a good morning and asked him how he was doing...I was completely overwhelmed. This is what he said, "Just HONKEY DOREY, MAAM!" Smiling back, I said, "That's nice, we need more people in this world like you!" He had a twinkle in his eye as he squinted just a bit and was quick to add, "I woke up this morning, and that's something to be thankful for!"

I have seen this gentleman quite frequently. I never talk to him because I am usually on the cell phone, cleaning out my purse, trying to hush my dog when they are out of "TREATS" or whatever other crisis is happening in my car...anyway, I just simply have not taken the time to REALLY talk to him. BUT it was quiet this morning. Most people were taking full advantage of their day off!

As the gentleman went to open my gas tank-which I forgot HOW to open!!! I thought since I had just lectured my son on thanking a VETERAN, I should at least ask him if he was. He acted surprised that I would ask. He walked over to my window and said, "MAAM, most of us old guys here are!” We had quite the conversation. I should have had him fill my tank to the brim...just to listen to his heart and to hear his passion for his COUNTRY he still carried in his voice after all of these years. What was it that he had seen, experienced or achieved in his life that gave him such a sweet spirit and a zest for life on such an early, chilly November morning?

OH MY GOODNESS! As I started up my car and thanked him for his part in serving our COUNTRY, I was completely fascinated by him. Maybe because he reminded me of my very favorite Grandpa...something about his sheepish grin, the lines in his face, his slight limp. I don't know!

Baffled, I pulled out of the gas station. My vision was a bit blurred from tears. As I drove home, I was wondering how many of these men and women are out there amongst people like me and like you who are so compartmentalized and are too busy to even recognize the people we pass every day who have served with a willing heart ? The sacrifices so many of them have made? How many have lost a friend in their very arms, and then come home to hold a new life only to find out that they, too, have forsaken them, lost hope that they may return.

I know that we realize there is a price for our freedom, but I don't usually think about these amazing men and women as individuals. They each have their own stories. Their own lives have been altered in one way or another. Maybe one night they were being kissed by their mom and the next, only by the dripping rain! Who knows?

As I pulled into my garage and turned the car off. I just sat for a minute. It dawned on me why this distinguished gentleman was still on my mind: He was still experiencing the greatest joy in his life...not from what he had received, but from what he had given of himself...although many years was the gift from his heart!

Thank YOU

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