it is hard to explain…


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I know of a verse from the bible that says…there is no searching His understanding,and I can vouch for the fact that appears to be perfectly true because I certainly don’t understand much of any of it and cannot reason why things are the way the are.

Last year nearly exactly this week I bought a small portable electric generator from a guy about my age. The front of his house and lawn was adorned with the US Marine emblem and flags of the colors red and gold.

I can’t say much more.

What happened was I being sold on this generator by a man with a severe limp that proceed in telling me what it was like to be lonely and have no friends.

Somehow he mixed that in with his injury. In close to 45 minutes from the time I pulled in his driveway I learned nearly all of this mans life.

The license plate of his car showed that he been given a Purple Heart from the event in Viet Nam that permanently crippled him.

He had told me about the land-mine and that he was Viet Nam one moment and when he regained his thoughts he was in a military hospital in Germany. His foot was half gone and a large portion of his thigh,yet he has his two legs,and the limp. Even before we started the generator I was shown his stomach area where huge bits of metal from the explosion ripped into him. We went into his kitchen where a letter from President Nixon presented an honor to this vet’s division.

Like I said,this man told of his loneliness and that he had no friends or relatives,only a roommate,and his roommate was not around much. I told him I was available any time he wanted to have some company.

It has only been one year. I have seen and heard so many things in the few infrequent visits we have had. I have literally gotten to a point where I have forgotten the fellow because I attempted to call several times and only an answering machine and no return calls…and then one day the phone would ring and it would be this fellow and an apology and the excuse of not being well and in serious pain,but could I come over and hang out and drink some beers and maybe watch ‘Star Trek’ movies (apparently his favorite kind). These visits have not tallyed into a dozen but last into the night. I do not know why the television is on,we never seem to pay any attention.

A few months ago he called. I suppose it was the last time we got together to watch ‘Star Trek’ sometime in June. It was not the first time he had spoken about his foot. It was the first time he had shown it to me. It was not pretty,very deformed…and part of it black.

Let me explain that these visits are not kind to either of us! They are sessions of self-abuse! In ways I am glad they are not frequent but yet each time he calls it is almost as if there is no way I can say no. Every time I visit he asks me to read the letter from Nixon. He has it framed and it hangs in his dining room. It is almost as if I am meant to be silently punished by that.

My friend does not realize that the loneliness is as bad for me as it is for him. We are both hurt from our time in the military,however his wounds are the legitimate wounds I have talked about in the past. But being there watching ‘Star Trek’ most of the talking is done by him,my part of the conversation does not seem to matter much,although for some reason that I am not I am able to explain that because he does not hear me does not seem to matter either.

He called the other day saying he had been sick but that he wanted to get together and drink a few beers. Let me put it in perspective…it becomes a full night of total self-abuse. It is not like a beer with the guys at happy hour. I don’t really want to do it but it consumes me.

This feels like I will never see him again. He showed me his foot again,this time I could see actual meat and vessels inside of what looked like rotting flesh. It was black still. He was worried,he thinks the VA wants to take it off. He was firmly set that amputation is not an answer and he had an answer of his own. We talked about it and I totally understood every word of what he was saying….he was ready to die! He explained how he was putting things in order.

I saw the pain! It had never looked this way before. He could not sit in any position and be comfortable and he told me he takes such huge amounts of morphine that it no longer eases anything just making him drowsy and honestly very hard to follow in conversation.

His foot was throbbing and so swollen. I was asked if I could help him by slightly rubbing it…his words were like “just float your hands over it to stop it from itching me”. The dryness of the skin around the area was evidence that what really needed was baby oil,which we had. I can’t describe the way his body reacted when I poured the oil and gently massaged his foot. The man moaned in both kinds of sounds of agony and of pleasure and I kept thinking about how crazy insane this whole scene was. I am a servant to a man,a willing servant for my thankfulness to him to be my friend.

I looked up at him as I worked the oil into his foot and I saw a man who  looked like my father. I looked at the strange scene this was. This man who I only met last crixmix (December 24) and feel soon there will be no more telephone calls,he looked that gaunt and grey. I wondered why this is? I cannot explain all the races going on in my mind

I’m fucking emotional about it all already! This season of the way the evilness of this world has chosen to remind me of 1969 at the time where my mind was still innocent that Christ-mas was soft and gentle. It is not. And insults of the jingles of the bells that beg at you in just about every place you need to go…it is not easy to explain,it is like being a member of a Steven King novel. It is that haunting. And here I am on my knees ant the foot of a war wounded Marine rubbing his foot. And I look up and I see my Dad.

I can’t write any more because I have to stop and cry.

5 Responses to “it is hard to explain…”

  1. Jerry Says:

    Jay, you have a lifetime legitimate wound, It’s called PTSD and MST. Your injuries are just as valid as your friends. Have any of us with MST had a “normal” life. I know I haven’t and it’s taken its toll on my vascular system. Remember, Christ was out on the streets with the lepers and prostitutes, the broken and damaged. Washing this mans foot is symbolic of that message. This is a hard time of year for most of us. I try to ignore it. Pray and ask Jesus to take the pain away, he will. God Bless and Peace. Jerry

  2. Joan Says:


    To quote from my favorite song, “In the end – only kindness matters – We are God’s eyes, God’s hands, we are reflections of God.” (Jewel – Hands)

    I know that this is hurting. But this just reminds me once again what a wonderful Brother you are! Despite everything that you have endured you continue to serve your fellow man – even when it costs you everything emotionally.

    I know that this is a very hard time of year for you but perhaps you are truly celebrating Christ’s birth in a way that is so incredibly special. He didn’t come into the world so that we could decorate trees, buy presents and bake cookies. He came to the world to heal the broken and to let us know that no matter how tough it is or how bad some days are, we are loved so much by God that he would trade the life of His child for your life…my life…the world.

    John 3:16 (revised) God loved ME so much that He gave His son so that if I believe I will never die – but have everlasting life with my Father in heaven.

    Bless you, Jay. You are loved. Your wounds are more than legitimate but despite it all you are able to be a reflection of God. Thank you!



  3. Dale Says:

    How awful for your friend! I am curious as to how he ended up in a Military Hospital in Germany from Vietnam. Wounded Warriors from Vietnam wouldn’t have been flown all the way to Germany. They’d have been flown to San Diego or San Francisco or Okinawa. Did you think to call 911 when he was complaining of chest pains?

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