This is something Himself wrote a few years back. I thought it was appropriate for Memorial Day.
I feel subdued today... No, thoughtful is more accurate.
Visited an old soldier today--one I hadn't seen since 1979; Command Sergeant Major Luis Esparza. Upon finishing up the SF training in '78, he was my first boss--one I didn't like, and one I set out to make his life miserable. I was SUPPOSED to go to a Special Forces A-Team, but for some reason I got stuck in a staff job at Battalion level...not something a certain Tall-Good-Looking-Hard-as-Steel-Green-Beret was SUPPOSED to be doing! Nope! I was meant for the coveted A-Team.
(All this from a 20 year old kid with one year in the service--me--doing this to a soldier who came into the army in 1949, was the highest rank an enlisted soldier could be, and who had two wars under his belt.)
With this attitude, I set out to do all sorts of little things to mess with him--like put my nearly 600 pounds of barbell weights in front of my clothes storage locker so he couldn't inspect it as Sergeant Majors do. My imagination for such juvenile things had no limits. Myself and my partner-in-crime Brad would get hauled into his office while the rest of the Battalion staff grew hushed, and we would then get our butts chewed--again. He would yell & yell, and end up with an animated, "Now, got OUT of here!!".
But as of late different memories come to mind. I thought back that after each well deserved chewing-out, if my retreating form happened to turnaround to glance back at him, I saw a much softened look about him usually accompanied with a slight smile. Then it hit me--tho I suppose he had full rights to throw me out of his unit, he was somewhat fond of me despite all my youthful arrogance, and perhaps he was remembering another young solder of 1949. And then it hit me...
Caring can go both ways. Thru the old SF soldier list I found out that now70 year old CSM Esparza had a quadruple bypass surgery recently. Tho from North Carolina he had surgery in Nashville and recovering at his daughter's home here in Clarksville. Then a strange thing happened--the Lord whispered in my heart, "Go see him". I thought, "ME?!" Why, he won't even remember me. And if he does, unless senility has set in he will remember what a PITA (pain-in-the-...) I was. But the heart-felt thought wouldn't leave. So I did see him today...and when I walked into his daughter's home, I was greeted with a--"Oh, I remember YOU!"
Didn't know whether to continue into that home or turn around and RUN!
After that? I sat down and visited with a whole new perspective. Here was a man a fraction of his former size and presence--brought on by a number of ailments that age and diabetes can cause. But in this old soldiers eyes I still saw something larger. Something from before.
Now that we were both retired, I suppose that make us equals. But ya know, a part of me still felt young--like I didn't know anything compared to this man who has been thru so much. 3 hours later we were still trading pictures and stories and memories and, well...life. And when I left this time? I got a different type of send-off...
..."Come back again sometime..."
That meant the world to me. And I will.
PS--The A-Teams came later--after some much needed lessons and growing up of a certain young soldier. Once again, in God's perfect timing, He put me where I needed to be. Maybe for both of us...