Monday, September 28, 2009

Say HELLO to Mr. Hodge........

The waiting room up on the Third Floor of the Saint John's Health Center isn't much fun. It's got rather ugly fabrics on the furniture, it's fairly large, and it's very impersonal, coffee machines, newspaper sheets tossed here and there, you know the type of place. I had come to have stitches removed from a little surgery I had 2 weeks ago so they told me to have a seat and wait.

Two men walked in, one quite a bit older than the other, and I figured they were father and son. The older one had a
NAVY 'ARMED GUARD' hat on his head. They were talking about something when I heard the old man mention the Navy. I couldn't resist, I just liked everything about his demeanor, so I opened up a conversation with "My friend (Elbro) was in the Navy and he still misses it terribly, do you?"

Mr Hodge told me he'd been out of the Navy for
65 years. He'd served as security on merchant ships or something (you know me, what do I know about anything like this? But, I remember that word 'merchant' and I do know he was protecting those ships). He started talking about how he'd enjoyed being in places he'd otherwise never have seen like the Marshall Islands, Japan, the Philippines, Australia. Then, he told me how he's been fighting melanomas the last 1o years ago "I think I got them from having been out on the seas all those years, they're on my head and I wore a crew cut for 10 years!" (He might as well have thrown in "who KNEW?", the way he said it). He never got maudlin or self-pitying but he did mention enough about surgeries and radiation that it was clear he'd gone through quite a lot and, now, one area isn't healing, hence the reason he'd kept his hat on in the waiting room.

His son, whose first name I did hear, Jim, was listening to our conversation and I asked if he'd been in the service. He told me no, that his knee was too bad for the service at the time.
When his dad mentioned the surgeries on his head and how that one spot won't heal and how many times they've had to stretch the skin and all, I said "Wow, with all that skin stretching on your head, it sounds like you might have something in common with Nancy Pelosi!" Jim looked at me, big smile, and rolled his eyes. We seemed to be on the same political page which always makes it fun (and unusual, here in LA!)

His father went on...
"I'd have loved to have been on submarines, but I was too tall. I think that doesn't matter anymore these days!" He told me he'd had wonderful 3-day furloughs in Japan where he and his buddies would go to hot springs in a tiny coastal town called Atami, and how one of the nurses at St John's happened to have come from there..."Small world!"

I asked Mr Hodge if he was married during his Naval service and he said no, that he'd married his wife six months after he returned...
"....and here's Jim to PROVE it!" he laughed. He then said that his wife had very recently died after sixty-three years of marriage. He teared up and so did Jim. So did I.

So, I quickly jumped in again and told him how much I enjoyed hearing all of this and, then the nurse came to get me and I thanked Mr Hodge for his service and Jim for 'having wanted to serve...'

As I left Mr Hodge, I was thinking about his courage and humor in the face of such medical problems, and how he'd served his country so happily and willingly, and how he cried for his wife of sixty-three years.

I felt like I'd been talking to America. I'll never forget the wonderful old guy. I hope you won't, either. How can you love a guy you spoke to for ten minutes?
z

30 comments:

FJ said...

To better understand Mr. Hodge's role, watch the movie "Action in the North Atlantic". It was the first movie they showed us upon arrival at the Academy (USMMA).


I know a lot of WWII era seamen with Mr. Hodges particular ailment. It's was something of an "occupational hazard" back then.

FJ said...

"Action in the North Atlantic" recounts of the story of the SS Stephen Hopkins.

christian soldier said...

"How can you love a guy you spoke to for ten minutes?"
It's easy when he is one of our BEST !!! :-)

Z said...

Very interesting information, FJ..thanks a LOT. Sounds like the ARMED GUARDS were very important...also interesting that those poor guys got hit with melanomas because of their exposure to the sun.

Yes, CS...absolutely! I just wanted to HUG the dear old guy.

Jen said...

You can love him after 10 minutes, Z. You can. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Z, the fact that this man is still in your thoughts, and left you with a bond with him to the point where you posted about him shows how, now and then, we meet someone who is no longer a stranger, from the get-go.

I think this doesn't happen too often, but when it does it makes your day, doesn't it? He will pop up in your memory from time to time I'll bet, and you'll wonder how he's doing. I'd also bet he will experience the same about you.

You're an open and welcoming person Z, and this kind of thing is truly a blessing and a reward for one such as you.

Pris

Z said...

Jen...absolutely true. I know, it's odd you can know people for a very long time and feel no affinity at all.

pris, thanks...sometimes you just know there's something GOOD in a person you see; Mr Hodge was that.
And, then later, walking back to my car and thinking about him, I thought "you were talking to America". I REALLY felt that. so nice.

Leticia said...

What a wonderful and touching story. I want to commend you for thanking him and his son. I am sure you made an impression as well.

That precious generation is disappearing and it is very sad. What strong and courageous people they were.

Debbie said...

What a great story to share, thank you. God bless them every one.

Deborah F. Hamilton
Right Truth
http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

Steve Harkonnen said...

There's nothing like meeting living history face to face. I think the primary reason I wrote a book about my 1st four years in the navy was so that my family can have some kind of a recording from me of what it was like to be in the navy during the cold war period.

Jungle Mom said...

I love encounters like that! God Bless Mr. Hodges!

shoprat said...

And truly great Americans like him are dying in huge numbers. Most of them will soon be gone.

Z said...

I wish you could all have met him, but you've all probably met at least one man like him.

No, there won't be more like him. I know a few in THIS generation, in their forties and fifties, but few.
I do truly believe Mr. Hodge was the norm then, not the amazingly wonderful exception.

Matter of fact, you all prompt me with that to send this to my nephews in their twenties. Young men need to know this.

Elmers Brother said...

z,

what a great story!

BUT let me encourage you...there are men like this serving even now. They're fighting and dying and sacrificing. I served with some of the most wonderful men I will ever know and continue to know.

and yes, 5 years after retiring I still miss the Navy.

Chuck said...

I felt like I'd been talking to America.

You summed it up well with this. I get the privilege of meeting people like this on a regular basis at work. It is cool to talk to someone like this. Great story Z

Impertinent said...

Sorry Z...this is a bit off topic but I just came across this snaphot of what Americans are saying, thinking and shouting out about the liar..Obama!

"Who IS this guy? I thought Bill Clinton was a LIAR? This America Hating, White Hating, Jew Hating President, sat right there on ABC, and told George Stephanopolous that he "Really hadn't been paying attention" to the whole ACORN thing. But he has THEIR GUY in his White House? He TAUGHT ACORN. He DEFENDED THEM in Court. These are his FREAKIN PEEPS! This guy wants to BRING THIS COUNTRY DOWN. Can't anybody see this? He embraces our ENEMIES, and gives our ALLIES the back of his hand. Khadafi wants him to stay President "forever". Of course he does. He IS Khadafi. He IS Mugabe. He's Chavez, and Castro, and Morales, and Zelaya. ESPESCIALLY Zeleya. He cuts the legs out from under the POLES and the CZECHS, to PLEASE the RUSSIANS, The same Russians who INVADED Georgia, a little while back. He BOWS to the SAUDI KING, while Kicking ISRAEL in her teeth. And he will let our troops be killed to the LAST MAN, before he'll lift a finger to get them what they NEED TO WIN, to please his Brownshirt Far Left Base. I've said it before. And I'll say it again. I can't IMAGINE him serving out the full 4 years. No way. I'm thinking....Musolini. There are just too many people out there who LOVE THIS COUNTRY with every fiber of their being. And they see a man who HATES THIS COUNTRY, and wants to TEAR IT DOWN. Do the Math.

I've never seen outrage like this in all my years. From Spectator.org.

Z said...

Thanks, Chuck and Elbro!
I imagine, Chuck, that you do meet people like this at the hospital (you're ER, right?).....take care of them extra special FOR US :-)

Elbro..I'm happy for the reminder. You are one of those guys; I actually think most of my male commenters/blogger friends are.

Imp! I have a piece up at midnight you'll like......stop scooping me :-), WILL YA?! heh heh!

Impertinent said...

Like I said Z..sorry. But the Tea Parties, the 912 March and protests...the wall between church and state...the animosity about being betrayed by this mutt...this fraud and liar are just too much for most... if not the majority of us to suffer any longer. This anti American, foreign loving, insufferable, arrogant poseur as a "defender" of democracy has got to go. He's a living, breathing mockery of democracy. We see the apologist in chief as a betrayer of our ideas, ideals and the very core of what this country was founded upon. This is just the beginning of a clean sweep of these traitorous bastards like Nadler, Schumer, Dodd, Frank, Pelosi, Reid, Murtha, Boxer, Watson to name just a few of the worst of the worst.

We're pissed. And this is just the beginning.

Elmers Brother said...

thanks and I'll introduce you to some more of them as time goes by.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Z,
My uncle Glen, my dad's brother entered the Army Air Corps after he graduated from HS. He ended up being a navigator on a B-25 in the Pacific. His plane was shot down and he spent three days in a life raft with three other men. He was the only survivor. His head was so sunburned that it burned all the hair off his head. He was bald the rest of his life.

Today I think my dad and his brother are together and really happy to see each other again. My dad was so proud of his big brother. The Greatest Generation. Yes.

heidianne jackson said...

what a great moment to make your day. thank you so much for sharing, what a special piece of america - and here in l.a. how wonderful!

Z said...

Imp, you're insane and I love it :-)

Thanks, Elbro...I'd like to know more about great contemporary American heroes!

Heidianne..it was so cool...and not the first time by a LONG shot.

Law & Order...I like to think your Dad and his bro are together...that is SO touching. thanks.

EDGE said...

Great post!

Beth said...

Thanks for sharing, this put a big smile on my face!

Anonymous said...

what a marvelous man! We all owe him & the others like him more than we can repay.

My 83-year old husband served on a destroyer, the McKee, in the Pacific in WW II, as well as in the Paratroops during the Korean War. His ship was headed for Tokyo when Truman dropped the bomb. All he would have had for his own defense if they went ashore was his M-1 rifle. With what is going on in this country today he feels that the 5 years he gave in service were a waste. A sad statement on the current state on our nation.

Ellen

Z said...

Beth, I'm glad!

Ellen, thanks for coming by....I'm so sorry your husband feels like that; I expect a lot of the greatest generation do.

And the left can't even understand that.

Mark said...

I live with my 86 year old father-in-law. He was a lifer in the Navy, entering when he was only 17.

He saw plenty of action in WWII. His ship, Navy Destroyer USS Colhoun, was sunk by a Japanese horizontal bomber at Guadalcanal.

"Doc" was one of only about 11 survivors. He had been blown off the ship into the water, so he avoided going down with the ship, as so many of his shipmates.

The ship's mission was to ferry Marines from Guantanamo Bay to whatever Japanese held islands they were fighting in.

The several ships who carried out these missions were affectionately known by the marines as "Green Dragons", due to their camouflage painted color scheme.

Doc doesn't talk much about his role in the war, but speaks with pride about his ship and his shipmates. he is humble about his service, but I often thank him for his service, especially when he makes me angry. I say something like, "I respect you for what you've done for this country, but..."

Z said...

Mark, what a great story in itself! And that you have him living with you, that's fantastic, THAT, TOO, is very American. Or was till the Left decided it's too much for families and oldsters need to be put out to the government places.
I like the way you 'keep thanking him for his service..!' :-)

Lana said...

My father, step-father, two brothers, a son, and numerous uncles, nephews, a niece and sister-in-law, all served in branches of the military. I'm so proud of all of them and I feel that they, too, are proud to have served for our great country. It is wonderful to visit with them about their time serving. I fervently hope that we, as Americans, will soon wake up to what is happening and will contact the senators and congress to voice our outrage as to the way we are heading. The only way to really make a change is to vote, starting at the local level up to the federal level. It's too bad we have to wait so may years between voting times to make changes.

I continue to be hopeful that our country will return to it's roots and become the great nation it has been for the last 200 years.

Anonymous said...

When I was at USC I had a Political Science professor who said, 'The pendulum always swings back.' A great example of that was Ronald Reagan after the Carter debacle, & then Geo. W. Bush after Clinton. Well, hurry up & swing, darn it!!!!

Ellen