Paying it forward
Watching the snow fall this morning brought back memories as well as a recent happening to me.
We had been planning on a short spring trip to Bangor for most of the winter. The weekend before last we were plagued with bad weather so we moved our hotel reservation ahead a week and left Limestone Monday morning about 9:30 a.m. The weather forecast was still not very promising for Tuesday, but we thought if we awoke and got ready early enough we could stay ahead of the storm on the way home.
We got up at about 8 a.m. and left the hotel and stopped for breakfast. After we ate we headed for a stock-up shopping trip of things we needed and usually buy in bulk. After shopping we left the store and went out to load the merchandise into the car for the trip home.
I don’t walk so well anymore due to severe health conditions, so I had one of the electric buggies they have for the disabled and my wife was putting the goods in the car. The wind was blowing and it was cold and I was really getting chilled when I happened to look to the north and saw a man headed my way. This gentleman looked to be in his 70s and he was walking as if he had a purpose in mind. He walked up to me and held out his hand for a shake and said “Thank you for your service.” It took a few seconds to register, but then I remembered I have veteran plates on my car and he came to wish me well because of it.
That one act of kindness by a stranger seemed to warm me up, and then I remembered a day about four years ago when my friend Asa and his wife and I and my wife rode to Caribou for lunch.
We had been there about an hour, eating and chatting the way friends do. I saw an older man and his wife walk in and they were seated near where we had to walk out to pay our bill. I also noticed the man was wearing a World War II veteran hat. We were ready to go, so I told our crew I was going to pay the bill and got up and walked to the front of the restaurant.
As I neared this man and his wife, I made up my mind to stop and talk to him for a moment. As I walked up he looked up at me and I said, “Excuse me, sir, but I noticed by your hat that you are a veteran.” He replied, “Yes, I am.” So I held out my hand for him to shake and with my left hand I put on my US Navy Destroyer crew hat and said to him “As one veteran to another, thank you, sir, for your service.”
He was dumbfounded for a few seconds and when he turned to look at me again, I saw tears running down that man’s cheeks, and with a voice choked with emotion he said “You are very welcome.”
Yesterday I experienced the same warm feeling that I had that day four years ago. That day, my best friend Asa, who is also a veteran, stopped and paid kudos to that man as well. When we left I tipped my hat to his wife and I saw a smile as proud as could be that she was with her good man.
We left Bangor yesterday and we did, in fact, beat the storm home. Today is a tad blustery but it serves to make me sit where it is warm and cozy and Remember When . . .
Guy Woodworth, a Presque Isle native now living in Limestone, is a 1973 graduate of Presque Isle High School and a four-year Navy veteran. He and his wife Theresa have two grown sons and five grandchildren. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.