Last Tuesday morning I was at the gym doing a leg workout. I was concentrating hard and moving fairly swiftly. My father was going to be having surgery because he’d fallen the previous day and broken his hip. I wanted to have time to talk to him before he went under.
I was just getting started on some light squats when I saw a young man that I’d seen before but never spoken to. He was wearing a Suicide Charley shirt. Suicide Charley is a nickname for “C” Company First Battalion Seventh Marines. They have a long and esteemed history, a little bit of which I’ve read.
I decided to introduce myself and we had a nice, brief conversation. Like my dad, he’d just celebrated a birthday on the 3rd. My dad had turned 90. He’d turned 25. Later he showed me a photo on his phone. It was of a friend that he’d served with. He had already been out of the military for a few months by the time his friend lost his legs. I didn’t ask but I remembered that the 1/7 had been in Sangin, Afghanistan in 2012 and I knew they’d had a rough go of it so I surmised that maybe that was where his friend was injured. In the photograph his friend appeared to be learning how to walk with his prostheses. As I waited for my dad to a come out of surgery I thought about him trying to heal and regain mobility at 90 and the Marine in the picture trying to heal and regain mobility in his 20’s. I thought about how life is sweet and bitter and about beauty wrapped in thorns.
I sat there for a long while in that plastic chair contemplating how so many take their mobility for granted, about the legions who don’t even bother to do a minimum amount to help their keep their bodies working properly and I thought about my dad and the Marine who would probably tell you it’s a far more precious gift than you could ever imagine….