the gift….(part two)


up the Econ River-Florida

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I want to finish what I began telling yesterday-I was interrupted and after that I could not focus.

I am a grown man-nearly 59. The previous days I had spent in Pearl Harbor found me exploring the USS Missouri and if ones eyes could focus on me in a way peculiar enough to see…they would have seen me as a kid-in parts of the ship my mind was at play like a 10 year old kid,in other parts of the ship-those that brought back memories of my time on the USS Vulcan-I was myself at age 18.

The asian girls that approached me in the Maui airport reminded me of an experience I had in Norfolk one night…all of the trip to the Hawaiian islands was sending me back to before the time got bad. The way being swooned into a jewelry store brought back my crying with the jewelry salesman that sold my ‘mothers pin’.

The sales girls told me how unusual it was to find a black pearl-and it came to me that this was the gift I was trying to find.

As it happened-in connection with the promotion of selecting a colorful slip of paper printed with discounted-or even free-pearls,there was a pendant the clerks showed me (saying it was the most popular in the islands) a small sterling silver whales tail. The pendant had a small post attached and it was meant to hold a pearl. Along with the pendant came a gift card. The card explain the spiritual meaning of the symbol of a whales tail. Strength.

The black pearl fit to make a wonderful combination. This was the gift for Charlotte.

I’m not a gift giver. It’s myriad reasons-but mostly because I’m afraid of giving the wrong impression of the gesture. But for this occasion and for these four friends it was as if like all things-spiritually guided. That day-it was not what was on my mind,but yet-the gifts came on their own. One,for my artist friend Bill-a statuette of a praying Chinese man,was as if it was carved for him specially. My friends had all given me gifts-gifts that can only come from within…not available for purchase or expecting exchange. I know trinkets are not expected-but from my heart I wanted to give something.

It was one year ago exactly that I received the paperwork from the VA signed by their judge stating “no wrongdoing”….in relation to my time spent in barracks D. They admitted there was no reason for my being there-and agreed that I had been permanently hurt. I can’t yet explain what that feels like. After 35 plus years of this and how many more yet to come?

I havent seen Charlotte since this time last year. I took my papers to her new office and we read them in awe of what had just happened…the truth was told.

My gift was given through a friend who gave it to a friend who gave it to Charlotte for me. I wasn’t certain if  gifts could be accepted and wanted it to be somewhat legitimate…after all,a client didn’t give it-did they?

Last week I had a routine look see by the physician I am assigned to at the VA. I am a reluctant sceptic returning to VA care because my new status as a ‘service connected’ disabled veteran say I deserve it…I still can’t see how,but now my health is troubled-I guess so.

As the doctor was putting everything into the computer I saw a pendant hanging on her neck…a wooden hand carved whales tail.

I could not help commenting-she responded back that a patient had made it for her…a symbol of strength.

I miss Charlotte. It is hard to walk away from seeing her again.  These days I could use her power of listening and the comfort of knowing she cared.

It has been a full year. It has been a year that has spoken loudly to me-the VA disability is still swirling inside of me. I cannot comprehend it how it has all come to be. Pearl Harbor? The visit was one of great emotional strains-seeing my son in his Navy uniform,to walk the base every morning and look out at the ships in rows,to be able to visit a variety of ships. All pulled at my heart. I am in awe of the majesty of it-how huge this really is. And-how sad it still makes me.

Forty years ago during this season my life was still innocent. I was in the Navy and had just a month before joined the crew of the USS Vulcan. The education officer on board ship had remarked that I had potential-my test scores showed I did too…my thrill of the news that I could exchange some of my life to give to the Navy as an officer was busted by my brother. Little did I know that my time in the US Navy was coming to a close and the rest of my life would be spent remembering how.

Just like there is no way I can ever regain what was taken away from me 40 years ago there is no way I can ever explain to my four friends who I found gifts for how much they mean to me and that the gifts would be for them to remember me as I will always remember them-and nothing else.

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