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August 03, 2008


Diane G

Wow is this ever a heartbreaking but hopeful story.

Would that we all still carry that empathy and non-judgement of a child.

Don't be sad, you were probably the best part of his life for a long while.

You are so beautiful, dear.


Peter of Lone Tree

Isaiah 11:6


Oh yes, I agree! That poor soul had a friend in you honey, and most likely you brought a ray of sunshine to his sad life. I believe that things happen for a reason and you were brought into each others' lives for a short but important time. I'll be my bottom dollar he died with more contentment in his heart just having known you. And he would have realized that it wasn't your choice but your folks, to have to stop seeing him. I know it.

What a sweet/sad story. You really are one hell of a beautiful soul.


How sad! But how amazing and beautiful that at six years old, as powerless as you were in so many ways, you still used what you had, when you could, to try to make another person's life better. I'm sure he understood, at least on some level. *tight hug*

I worry about the soldiers who will be home from Iraq and Afghanistan eventually, and the ones home now.

The Fat Lady Sings

Thanks everyone. I hadn't thought about him in years, actually - not until I read someone's account of meeting a young soldier coming home from Iraq. It sparked the memory. I've always felt guilty, you see; that I didn't do more. I just didn't understand. And I was deathly afraid of the repercussions, you see. My mother was crazy. Her retributions could be formidable. I always did as I was told back then. It wasn’t until I was a bit older (11, 12) that I actively disobeyed. The man was dead by then, unfortunately. I found it out by going looking for him. I asked a woman whose shop was in a little mall near the bench. She told me who he was, and that he had died. I was crushed. I felt responsible. My relationship with him was one of many things I pushed out of my mind as a child. Too much negativity, too much sorrow. I had to forget in order to survive.

I can think of him now – but there’s still pain (and guilt). He must have been very hurt that I left. It still makes me cry, you know – every time I think of him. He shouldn’t ought to have died alone.

Hon Glad

What an affecting tale, reminds me of Jem and Boo Radley in To kill a Mockingbird.

Border Explorer

My first visit to your blog, and I'm writing this with tears on my face. This is the most beautiful story I've heard in so long. I volunteer with homeless...veterans, many of them--the walking wounded, with invisible wounds. The image of the little girl sitting on a bench with him is so tender and touching. I hope you'll be able to surmount the guilt, because what you did and the relationship you created was so beautiful. Thank you very much for sharing it.

The Fat Lady Sings

Thank you, Border Explorer. Tell me - why is it America cannot treat her service people well? And I'm not just talking about those who are homeless. My husband was 10 years in the Navy - and I lived overseas working for the DOD. I could tell you horror stories…but then I guess you have heard them all. Truth is - we don't even treat our IN service people (nor their dependents) with any care or respect. Politicians wave the flag, pat the military on the back and crow about how they honor their service…..then stint on housing, medical care, education. It's as if all those people were disposable - and it breaks my heart.

No one - Democrat or Republican - does near enough. Oh - they all want their picture taken - but that’s it. When the camera goes – so does the politician. It’s like the German prisoner of war camps – hand out the fresh blankets for the Red Cross inspection – then take them away again the minute they’ve gone. I’ve been homeless. I know how that feels – what it means. I cannot for the life of me think of a single politician or policy maker who’s ever been so without. That poor old man on the bench had no one. He was the true ‘nowhere man’.

Do you remember that episode of The West Wing when Toby’s card was found on a dead vet? The man had frozen to death within sight of the Capitol. I thought of my man and his bench then – marveling at how in 40 years, nothing had really changed. I hate to say it – but I’ll be willing to bet that 40 years from now, nothing will have changed either.

And my heart still breaks.


Hello. I also came to your page today, and this caught my attention. I've often felt that there was always something more I could have done or said to somebody, like the vets on the bus on the way to the V.A. Clinic. There are some torn up men from Vietnam and WWII I hear everyday, and all I can do is listen. Sometimes it's enough, to have them know that yes, you're there and listening. Lord knows 3 credits worth of psychology from college isn't NEAR enough to psycho-whatever these men, so all I can do is listen. How can we tell them to "be content with their lot"? We can't, because they aren't getting nearly enough of what they deserve.
I read a bumper sticker today that hit close to home for me, with my Dad a Navy veteran, and several of my schoolmates in Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, Korea, and even Parris Island (my best friend is training to become a Marine right now). It said "Soldiers will go to Heaven, because they've already been through Hell." Your friend on the bench went through Hell; maybe he found a little bit of Heaven when you sat and listened to him. You were there, and when you could do it, you were a routine. Routines help, be it for an Alzheimer's patient or the obsessive compulsive (yours truly).
Remember that you helped him a little, and know you did what you could. Ok?

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