As we drove by the cemetery, Dad slowed down and looked in the car parked at the curb. “It’s him,” I heard him say as if he was speaking to himself. He took the next turn and went around the block. The car was still there. Dad slowly brought us to a stop directly behind this quiet sentry.
“Stay here. I’ll be right back,” and with those words, he slid out the door and walked to the passenger side door – leaning in the window. I was scared. My Dad never did anything like this. What would make him just stop and talk to this man?
It seemed an eternity before he returned to the car. As he started the engine, I looked at him – his face expressionless. We just sat there – engine humming – other traffic going by without a care – the wind blowing through the open windows. Finally, I had to break the silence, “Dad?”
As if startled, he looked at me. His hand slowly settling on my shoulder. “He’s a friend. His son was killed in Vietnam and buried in this cemetery a couple of days ago. At a time like this, a man just needs another man to listen – to hear him speak his heart – no words, no judgment, no explanation – just listen.”
He put the car in gear and checked for traffic as he guided us back on the road. As we picked up speed, he gave me a quick glance.
“Never forget this.”