Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gentle Ben

He came into my store about 2 weeks ago.

Not my typical customer. Most of the people that come in are women...somewhere between 35 - 60. We don't usually get a lot of men who wander in by themselves...but Ben did.

He is a slight man. Tall, slender, with a relaxed look about him. He doesn't look like a "Jersey guy" and perhaps that is the reason I felt a connection to him.

Two knee braces were loosely hung around his ankles.

He looked kind of tired, he looked a bit sad.

"Bad knees?" I asked him.

"Yeah, I am a disabled vet. Got injured over there."

"Wow...I'm very sorry about that, but thank you very much for being there for us. You are a brave guy."

"Naw...not so much. I just love my country."

I felt myself take a deep breath when he said that.

We all love this country, only a few brave souls put their lives on the line though.

"Well Thank you...I really thank you for being there for us."

He nodded and remarked that he gets thanked by a lot of people and he appreciates it, but...

As he trailed off he kind of wandered around the store and told me I had some cool stuff.

It seemed as though he needed to get away for a bit. Somewhere different.

I asked him if he lived locally and he told me that he has been staying with his relatives right next door. He lives in Spartanburg, S.C. with is wife and family. He loves his wife dearly and can't say enough about his kids.

I've heard him next door with his nieces. They put up a trampoline and he jumps around with them. And laughs. They all laugh.

They are enjoying the moment.

He came up to NJ because his Uncle has cancer and it's getting close to the end. The family has been going to see him every day and are comforting each other.

Ben told me that his Aunt can't let go. She sees that some days he seems better so she thinks that he is better.

He shakes his head.

He knows.

He knows death.

Ben roams around the store looking at all of the different things and likes each one.

He is in pain.

Emotional. Physical.


Ben came in a few times over the past 2 weeks and then went back home to his family. He told me he would be back when his uncle passed to go to the services.

He came in today.

His uncle passed on Saturday.

I told him I was sorry for his loss - he was just barely holding it together.

He was trying to be strong for his other uncle who he said was always strong...until now.

Ben teared up a bit...and changed the subject.

He was trying to be strong too.

As a distraction I asked him how his wife and kids were doing. His son's birthday was on Saturday. He smiled.

Then he got the call about his Uncle.

We promised to keep in touch. By e-mail. By Facebook.

Gentle Ben.

So much pain and sadness in this mans eyes.

I gave him a hug and a 90% dark chocolate bar to bring home to his wife. He told her about it and she really wanted to try it.

He smiled....blushed a bit.

He's a good man Ben. Too young to be so disabled, in so much pain.

I think he is happy though.

I hope he is.

Gentle Ben...say a prayer for him please. Keep him and all of the other men and women who have served in your prayers. They so deserve it.

Thanks Ben - thanks.


Kat said...

What a wonderful post, Sharon! I have missed reading your blog.

I'll say a prayer for Gentle Ben and all the others.


neetzy said...

Will do. Too much pain for a young man to endure. Beautiful post.