Life saver love on the wheelchair freeway.

Less than 50 calories but priceless in my day.

I don’t spend a huge amount of time at the V.A. Hospital in Minneapolis. I’m a disabled vet, but God has blessed me with good health in general and my disabilities are fairly minor. I have lousy hearing and some crunched parts but my day-to-day is pretty good and I don’t think of myself as disabled unless I have to request a repeat from somebody for the third time. Doggone ears.

On the day this picture was taken I was there for an appointment with my wife (also a vet) and I was killing time in the waiting area of a quiet wing of the hospital. Just me and my Kindle reading about Winston Spencer Churchill in William Manchester‘s “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965.” Sitting in my spot, drinking coffee and enjoying a piece of fudge (red velvet cake fudge – it should be illegal (don’t tell Michael Bloomberg)) when a man comes wandering down the hall thanking every vet he sees for their service.

I was next. He was a volunteer with a fanny pack full of Life Savers. He just wanted to thank each of us for our service. I was touched. And then I was amazed. As I looked around and saw the sacrifice of these men and women. I lost some hearing and ache on occasion. And they are on crutches, artificial limbs, and sporting wheel chairs about. There were more wheelchairs in sight than anywhere else I’d ever been. It was like a freeway of men in wheeled chairs. And a lot of older couples taking the last chapter of their lives together as a joint journey.

There was a lot of love in sight that morning. We all had our service in common. Smiles were easily exchanged and greetings flowed as though we’d known each other all of our lives. In some ways we had known each other – at least since we all got off that bus on some parade ground in the dead of night and stood on painted footprints waiting for the drill instructor to finish shouting at the last few bodies flying out of the door. At that moment we were all born into the family of those who had served.

I probably spend too much of my time thinking about that service. But surrounded by my comrades at the V.A. it reminded me for the 10,000th time that I wouldn’t have given it up for anything. It made me who I am today.

And it got me a Life Saver on that winter’s morning. And the thanks of a man whom I’d never met before. Just because I’d raised my hand and taken an oath a very long time ago.

Are you one of the less than 5% who’ve served? Are you the spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, or friend of one who served? Have you thanked them lately? We don’t wait for the thanks, but it is certainly nice to hear it said out loud.


Today’s keyword bingo entry is Kardashian. Yeah, I’m reaching, but those people have to be good for something other than the cover of the tabloids.

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Life saver love on the wheelchair freeway. — 1 Comment

  1. Thanks Joe for this blog. I thank everyone I know for their service every year. Some are grateful and some are still angry. I pray a lot for all of them. And I try to remind them that God created all and that means He created us with the capacity to laugh at the unlaughable and so sometimes I watch someone “catch” the laugh and their spirits lift up and that makes my day. God bless you, Joe …