Dear Mr. Vietnam Veteran,
Last Friday night I was dining with my husband and two young boys at a local BBQ place, and I noticed you watching us throughout dinner from the next table. I politely smiled several times, and you even commented on my husband cutting up chicken for our tired five year old. You see, I had been traveling the past four nights and had just been picked up by my hungry boys who decided we had to eat at a “dinner place” before heading home. I was tired, and so were they. My five-year-old was a little emotionally overwhelmed to see me after missing me so badly the past four nights, and my two-year-old just wanted to sit in my lap and not get out.
When you got up from your chair with significant help from your cane, I noticed your cap that proudly displayed Vietnam Veteran. You walked over to our table in the busy restaurant and said that you wanted to sing us a song- We Have This Moment Today by Bill and Gloria Gaither. You started singing, and I thought it was very sweet. Now, part of me wondered why this was happening in the middle of the restaurant as I caught my husband’s eye. But, I listened to the words of the song I had never heard before, gave you my full attention, and even got a little teary-eyed. You stopped halfway through to talk to us about how we need to write down the things our boys say and moments we want to remember because time passes so quickly. You reiterated that these moments are what are most important in life. You then sang the rest of the song and left our table by saying, “Have a wonderful life together.”
Since that evening, I wished I had at least gotten your name. Your interaction with us meant a lot, and I have been thinking about why I teared up during your song. I do not like being away from my family even one night, and I know that the fact I had just returned home after being gone for so long was one of the reasons. I had just missed four nights of moments! Yes, they had sweet moments with their Daddy alone while I was gone which is definitely important, but I know that time passes quickly. My oldest baby is 5 1/2 for goodness sake, and in my mind he should be no older than age 3.
I think I also got teary thinking about how much life you have lived and the perspective that you were speaking from. The old adage, the days are long but the years are short, must be even more apparent with each passing year. You also reminded me of my grandfather who I miss dearly. I lost him three years ago, and he always reminded me that my boys would not stay the way they are for long. I can see everyday what he meant by that. Getting a glimpse of him when I saw you made your words seem all the more wise.
And, I think I was teary because my dad’s 60th birthday should have been the week I was traveling, but the one year anniversary of his death was approaching in a few days. Man, I am thankful for those moments we had with him even though they seem too few. What I wouldn’t give to remember every last detail of those moments just a little more vividly. It made me realize that I’ll someday wish the same thing when it comes to the moments spent with my children.
So, thank you for the reminder that we need to cherish the moments with those we love. You have no idea the impact our short interaction had on me, and I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us and sing. I pray you also have a wonderful life, and I thank you for your service in more ways than one. And, I promise to keep writing down the moments I want to remember.
A Grateful Mom