On his way home from his 12-hour overnight shift, Buzz stopped at the local 7-11 to fuel up his truck. In front of him, at the counter, was an older gentleman wearing a Korean war veteran’s hat. He thanked the old man for serving the U.S. and Buzz bought his cup of coffee and donut.
After gassing up, he got in his truck and drove home. When he pulled into his driveway, a car pulled up to the curb, and out stepped a guy Buzz didn’t know.
The guy said, “Hi, my name’s Gordon and you bought my fathers stuff at the gas station a few minutes ago.”
Thinking he may have screwed up, and seeing the old man in the passenger seat, Buzz responded, “Yeah, I hope that was okay?”
Gordon moved closer, toed the cement like a child about to admit to having been bad, and half-smiled, “My dad has Alzheimer’s and barely remembers who I am most of the time, and you — you look like my son Bobby, who died in Fallujah, back in 2004.”
There was a slight pause, and Buzz felt a lump forming in his throat as he fought back the desire to tear up saying, “I’m sorry for the loss of your son. I can’t — nor do I wanna even imagine what that must be like for you.”
“Thank you, I appreciate that,” Gordon said. “Anyway, when he came out of the store and got into the car he said, “Bobby jus’ bought my coffee. ‘Hell of a kid you got there, Gordy.’”
Another pause came as Gordon cleared his throat and continued, “I don’t know what you said to him, but my dad hasn’t used my name, let alone my nickname in over a year and he hasn’t said his grandsons name in ages.”
“Thank you,” Gordon said as he offered Buzz his hand.
Once Buzz grabbed it, Gordon pulled the slightly smaller Buzz to him, and gave him a hug. After a few seconds, he released Buzz, then with tears glistening in his eyes, Gordon returned to his car and drove away.
Buzz fumbled with his keys, his hand nervously shaking and hot tears streaming from his eyes, as he unlocked his front door. All he could now think of was his long deceased father, also a veteran of Korea, and how he wished he could talk to his old man once more.