The other day I went shopping and that is a battle in and of itself, but I was wrapped up in dragging the kids through the store and replacing all the items they manage to pull off the shelves. Quieting Tanner when he yells like a banshee. Chasing Cody up and down aisles while he giggles and runs faster than any time I want him to hurry. Complaining to myself that things are so bad. The I get to the checkout and since it was morning there wasn't a line. The register clerk was a young man maybe 20 something and the bagger was an elderly man probably 70 something. He came to the cart and said "let me help you" and unloaded my entire cart onto the belt and then went to the other end to bag the items and reload them into the cart. Then he didn't ask if he could help me out to the car he simply took the cart and said "show me your car" As we walked outside he saw my AZ licence plate and asked how we liked it here. Made some more small talk as he loaded the bags into my car. What he was saying made me pay attention, he talked about how he had come here after "they blew up the buildings" at first I was confused thinking he was probably talking about 9/11 but not positive. Then he said how he had been a Navy Seal most of his life. Retired from that and went to work in the financial markets in New York. He said his wife thought he was crazy, "she doesn't think it's crazy now that I draw two pensions" Then he told how he had to retire from his second career due to heart problems, and how thankful he is that he has a bad heart. Now I was really confused, but he explained that on 9/11 he was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery, and if it hadn't been for that bad heart he would have been in the buildings that were blown up.
By this time all the groceries were loaded and the kids were complaining, and usually I would say a quick thank you and walk away, but this time I made it a point to look this man in the eye and reach out to shake his hand and say "Thank you very much for everything". I wasn't just thanking him for loading my groceries, I was thanking him for his years of service, for my freedoms and those of my children's as well. He was so friendly walking away saying "I wish your family the best, I really do" He didn't know me from Adam but he sounded as sincere as our closest family members.
I thought about this experience all the way home and occasionally over the last few days. How does a man give his life to his country, retire, start another career, suffer medical problems, and then end up bagging groceries at the local Brooksville Publix? I don't know if this man needs the job, maybe he just can't sit at home, but what a blessing it was that I met and listened to what he had to say. This stout, short man with the bright blue eyes, gave me hope in so many ways. Hope that there are people out there that still care about this country, Hope that our freedoms will never be taken, no matter how hard other try to take it, and even more evidence that our Heavenly Father loves us and that there is a plan to everything he does. Today on Vertrans Day, I remember Mike, from Publix, who will probably not be recognized publicly today for his service, but by me he will be remembered.
(I remember his name because Cody's new thing is to ask everyone "Whats your name?" Mike replied "Mike,... like Mike and Ike"