Blue Hydrangea and The Heroes

July 5, 2010

Locks of Love). When he saw his Vietnamese barber lying dead in his camp soon after his own haircut–slain because his real identity as the enemy had been discovered–he decided then and there that there would be no other opportunities to have his throat slit by any barber anywhere in the universe.

Andy told how he was spit on and cursed upon his return from Vietnam. He succincly described his experience this way: that he had gone over as an individual and returned as one, since there were no group hero welcomes, and that he was apparently destined to always be alone. Until his marriage 7 years ago to Nancy. With the after effects of the constant mode of high alert and extreme danger, the memories had been difficult to ovecome, but thankfully, time, med’s and Nancy have helped to relieve some of the worst of them.

Andy and I were on the front porch when he told me about the boy he had planned to adopt when in “Nam.” Andy and his unit were assigned to protect a group of people on a mountainside, and the people sort of adopted Andy and his buddy. There was a ceremony, where Andy and the other guy were given a sword and some other things, along with the highlight–a piece of bamboo that had been shaped to fit around his wrist, signifying that he was “family,” which indeed he was. Andy had become the favorite of one of the local boys, and his parents had begged Andy to take the boy back to the States with him as his own son. Since the feeling was mutual, Andy took steps to make that happen (he’d been a 19 year old kid when he’d enlisted, but you grew up pretty fast over there). He filled out paperwork, called his own parents to see if they’d keep the boy a couple of months before Andy’s tour of duty ended, (which they’d agreed to), and it looked as if all systems were “go.” But something happened in the country to bring it all to an abrupt halt, so Andy was never able to bring home his son. He pointed to the tatoo around his wrist, a black / flesh striped band, symbolic of the bamboo band he had been given, and explained that he had gotten the tatoo on his 50th birthday. (He’s 63 now.) And then he said, “I’m going back.” His plan is to return to Vietnam to try to find the boy, who would be about 40 if he has survived this long. I nodded, wiped the tears from my own eyes, and said, “Thank you. Thank you for all of it.”

Andy’s profound stories were timely, since the 4th was yesterday, but it was Nancy’s and Andy’s stories, combined, that had made such an impression on me. Other’s stories have a way of doing that.

I thought of my own husband, and how I don’t say, “Thank you,” to him enough. I thought of his role in the B&B, and how often it is behind-the-scenes–not always, but often. This is our lovely blue hydrangea at the top of this post, there because David quietly waters the plants each day. The hydrangeas would be dried up sticks if watering were my job. David is the one who picked the string beans the other day from our edible landscape on the south side of the house, and our hanging ferns on the front porch are lush because of his care and attention. Many days it is he who goes to the clothesline to either hang up or take down the sheets stripped from the B&B beds earlier in the day, a job that he has discovered that he loves! He is the one who fills out the quarterly room tax report, runs the numbers and sees that we have checks, and a working credit card machine. He is the numbers guy. I love doing this whole B&B thing, but I couldn’t do it without him…..which is one of the reasons why he, too, is my unsung hero, something I usually forget. Today, though, thanks to Andy and Nancy, I’m singing that hero song.

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