Monday, November 19, 2007

The picture box

"May I use you restroom?" I asked the old man.

He opened his eyes briefly "yeah yeah yeah" He closed his eyes again, somewhere in his mind he was in between the old days and Viet Nam.

I had arrived earlier to bring him some bread and soup. He invited me in to share a beer with him as he told me stories of war, of his youth and the days that ll passed by too quickly in his wine hazed mind.

He never ate the bread or soup, just gave me a beer from a sack by his side and opened his bottle of Muscatel.

He tried to offer me some of his bottle of wine, but I declined.

"Why did you sign up for 3 tours in Viet Nam?" I asked, so curious as to why anyone would want to fight a war so hated by many.

"What else did I have but the Marines? There were no jobs on the reservation. Semper Fi, do or die" he said as he laughed proudly.

He told me of awful things he witnessed, things he was too ashamed to tell, and of a child he left over there in Japan.

"You never seen your daughter over there?"

He shook his head and told me when he went back and found out his girlfriend was pregnant, her family had told him that she had engaged to another and they didn't want anyone to know she was pregnant from an American.

As I walked back through the hallway, I noticed he was passed out and had a picture in his hand. There was a whole box of pictures in front of him.

I slowly looked through the pictures in the box, almost felt like I was invading his privacy. In the snapshost that were never put in an album, I saw youth. Black and white photos of beautiful people smiling. I saw him in high school, looking unsure, maybe he had already signed up for the Marines by then, so he had that look in his eyes already.

I saw pictures of the wife he left behind in America, so young, beautiful, happy to pose fo the camera. The brand new baby he took leave for. I saw the pictures from then on, as they grew older. His wife fell in love with another while he was serving. I saw the look in his eyes change again. I saw her eyes, still hopeful that she would get it right.

I saw pictures of his children with their babies, happy and hopeful for their future.

Then I saw pictures of his wife's funeral. I thought of how she searched for happiness with other men, but in the end she came home to die and he was there for her with the sickness she had.

I saw his whole life in that picture box.

"I don't want my life to be in a box of pictures." I thought, as I walked out of his house.


muse said...

We can leave our imprint in other ways, but the pictures act as a reminder of things we have also accomplished and not just dreams left behind.

Both of my parents are gone and I have no pictures of our childhood and/or of my parents...I wish I did my kids would love to have something to remember them by.

My sister and I had a tiff before we could divide up our parents photographs-now going on three years-we still have not talked.

Dana Dane said...

I understand what you are saying, I hardly have any picture from my youth from all my moving around. I think I would liek to have a picture box, I guess what mase me sad about it is what will happens to those pictures that he collected over his life. I can't really see any of his children caring enough to keep them.