When I Came Home
Author: Shiloh


As the plane was taxiing to a rest, the captain opened the PA set
and told us that there were crowds of anti-Vietnam protesters present,
and that we should, if we were in uniform, go to the baggage garage
to the left of the termnal entrance, to retrieve our baggage,
then exit through the tunnel that we will be directed to,
in order to avoid the protestors.

The plane finally stopped, the stewardess opened the door,
and we exited and went to the left as directed - about thirty of us.
Inside the baggage garage area we picked up our bags
and looked around for the person to show us the way to the tunnel,
but there was no one there,
and the baggage guys said they didn't know of any tunnel.

There was a sign over one set of swinging doors that read LOBBY,
and since we saw no other way out, we went through the doors
and into the lobby, and into the middle of a large throng of anti-Vietnam protesters.

We ignored the group and just walked, deteminedly,
toward the end of the lobby, to where we would find buses or taxis.
I was almost out of the group when an elderly lady,
who looked like a perfect painting of a grandmother by Norman Rockwell,
stepped into my path and stood there, looking me square in the eye.
Rather than run into her, I stopped.
She then spit on me, her spittle hitting my jacket, but not doing any damage.
I guess I was fortunate she didn't hit my face.

I was floored!
Here was the perfect vision of a grandmother, nicely dressed,
elegant in looks, and she had just spit on me,
as if she were one of those stupid and silly-assed protesters behind me.

I just stood there, looking at her, and then her face sort of crumbled,
and she started to cry, and fumbled for a handkerchief
and tried to wipe the spit off my jacket,
and she just kept saying, "I'm sorry, oh, I'm so very sorry," as she cried....

She stopped and stepped back and said, "I apologize for that. I shouldn't have done that."
I asked her, "Who was it that you lost over there, Ma'am?"
The tears started again, and this time there was no stopping them.
I stepped to her, and held out my arms, and she stepped into my hug and just kept crying,
saying how sorry she was for spitting on me.
"Was it your son, Ma'am?" I asked.
It was her grandson, her only grandson, and she was angry.
Not at me, but angry at the war, angry at the way things had turned out
for her and her family.
And, she said, she was also angry at herself
for allowing herself to do what she had just done.

I had a plane to catch, but knew I could get a later one,
and I told her that I would be pleased if she would have a cup of coffee with me,
and asked her if she would.
She said she could not believe that I was saying that, after what she had just done.

I told he that we both had lost someone over there -
her grandson, and some of my best friends.
I told her that I needed to talk about it with someone who would understand,
and that I bet she felt that way, too.

We sat in that airport coffee shop for about three hours,
talking, learning about each other,
and healing, just a little bit.
It was one of the nicest dates I had ever had with a woman.

When we parted company she gave me her address on a piece of paper,
and said to visit if I was ever out this way again, and I said I would.
For a couple years we exchanged Christmas cards, then that stopped,
and I received a nice note from her family,
telling me that she had gone to be with her grandson.

She was a beautiful lady, a grand lady, and I'm glad
that I was the one she decided to take her anger and hurt out on.
She just needed someone to give a damn, someone to hug her
and tell her that it was all right for her to feel the way she felt.

I was fortunate to be the one who was there for her.


Comments on this poem/writing:

Edna Eaton ( -- Monday, April 17 2017, 01:17 am

When I Came Home

beautiful! What a good deed! You showed courage and maybe gave her a few years of understanding.
Name:                                           Remember Me

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