He looked like a character from a Stephen King novel. The kind of person that catches your eye and spins a tale at a glance. He was tall, walked with his shoulders at attention, a rare thing for someone of his years. His was a long slow gait, but intentions were in each strained stride.
He had a sun-soaked blue ball cap to shade his white crown as he made his way toward the Goodwill store. The violet skin splotches on his face would have made a zombie jealous and the lines in his hard face carved into leather. The prematurely aged man looked like he’d spent a lifetime standing up to an unforgiving sun and his battle appeared to be all over but the raisin’ of the white flag.
His right grey eye squinted nearly shut as he blew his cigarette smoke out the right side of his mouth, pulling his lips as far to that side and lifting his grey stubbled cheek to direct the exhaust in my direction. The old guy was tough – that was an easy call. He sported his faded tee shirt with pride over his long lean frame. “VIETNAM VETERAN” is what it said in white letters against the shirt that matched the color of his eyes.
Some people walk through life not knowing much about what’s going on around them. That wasn’t the case with the elderly vet. He was still a soldier. He studied everything around him like an eagle does an open field. He picked up his struggled pace toward the front door as he pulled his right leg forward starting up at his hip.
He flicked his cigarette butt from between his thick middle finger and thumb into the crushed granite rock planter as he passed it. His shoulders rocked from side to side and he pulled his right leg while he picked up even more speed toward the used goods store.
Even though aged, his left leg was strong – chiseled like a Roman statue, veins sprawled across his calf as it carried the brunt of the load. He had matching old tennis shoes with short white socks. The left one was skin tight around his lean ankle, the right sock flapped down like a small blanket over the top of his faded shoe loosely flanking the thin silver aluminum prosthetic leg that was supporting him.
I spotted what the eagle eye soldier had a half minute before me. She was older than him but was fit and healthy for her age. He arrived at the door a few seconds before her and wrestled the heavy glass door open for her. I saw him nod and her smile and say some sort of greeting with a genuine gleam in her eye.
I’m not sure if either one of them found what they were searching for that day, but I’m certain they both participated in an act of good will. I was just glad to be witness to the small act. You see, I’ve learned that it’s the smallest things that sometimes speak the loudest about our lives… and what we lack shouldn’t keep us from showing others the Good will we’ve been given by grace.