Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Quiet Patriot

A quiet patriot passed from this world last night, his wife and sons at his side. He'd been battling brain cancer for a long time. Refusing to go to the hospital, he remained at home--never complaining, never defeated.

He'd served his country in war. After that, he served his country in peace time. He'd taught in the local high school and managed their JROTC unit. He'd raised two sons to become upstanding members of society. He loved his wife and she was everything in the world to him. He loved his family, even his extended family of nieces and nephews, great nieces and great nephews. He looked upon the world with a crystalline glare--one that saw truth and dismissed bullshit. When he walked, he walked upright, with a stride that was hard to keep up with. He was tall and he stayed tall until the very end.

He was quietly proud of his life, his family--even more proud of their accomplishments than his own. His own accomplishments were considerable, but he rarely spoke of them. Instead, he spoke of what others did, how they thought, how remarkable they were and how unusual. He was unconscious of everything he'd contributed to society, counting it as doing just what he was supposed to do and nothing more. Everyone else was extraordinary in his eyes. He was just himself, and for him that was the greatest thing in the world to be.

Now I can only hope that for a moment, just one moment some time in the coming present, I can discover his quiet secret for myself. Maybe that is the gift he left for me: the quest for unassuming extraordinariness.

Requiescat in pacem.