After my mother had passed, my task was to inventory everything in her house and decide what to sell, what to donate, and what to trash.
I went down to the basement and spotted an old trunk that piqued my interest. I opened it up and found that it was full of old journals that my father, who died when I was very young, kept. My mother told me about them, but I didn’t know she had kept them all in a trunk in the basement.
I opened the trunk and was hit with a musty smell, but I saw a bunch of journals and picked out one with the words “January – May 1972” written on them. I opened the book to the journal entry dated January 25, 1972. Here’s what I read.
“Today is the fifth anniversary of the death of Kenny, my best friend and comrade in arms. His life was stolen from him on this day in that quagmire they called the Vietnam War. I’ll never forget that day. It stood out, even though there was otherwise little variation from one day to the next for us grunts.
“Our platoon was caught in a Viet Cong ambush. We dug in, but shortly after the firefight began, Kenny, who was right next to me, was shot in the chest. He died instantly and there was nothing I could do to save him. I was devastated by the loss of my best friend.
“I was hit in the arm, but somehow, I managed to get out of there alive. My tour was almost up, so because of my wound, I was sent home. Shortly after returning home to my wife and young son, Kenny’s body made it back to the states.
“My wife and I, along with Linda, Kenny’s widow, attended his military funeral. I tried to be stoic for both my wife and Linda, but as soon as the chaplain said “In honor of the dearly departed husband, father, and friend, Kenneth Lumsden, we are gathered here together…” I lost it. I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer, and I cried for the loss of my best friend, Kenny, and for all of us who will never see him again.”
I was very moved by what I had read. With a lump in my throat, I put down my father’s journal, a man I hardly knew, and realized what a fine man he was and hoped that I could grow to be the man he was. I left the musty basement, went upstairs and outside to get some fresh air. Despite my melancholy mood, when I saw the grackles swarming around my mother’s beloved bird feeders, which gave her so much pleasure in life, I smiled at the thought of her finally being reunited in heaven with her husband. That thought filled my heart with joy and peace.
Written for these daily prompts: JusJoJan (journal), E.M.’s Random Word Prompt (anniversary), Your Daily Word Prompt (quagmire), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (variation), My Vivid Blog (stolen), The Daily Spur (chest), Ragtag Daily Prompt (save), Scott’s Daily Prompt (dearly departed), and Word of the Day Challenge (grackle).