Skip to comments.Secrets...
Posted on 07/04/2006 11:56:54 AM PDT by pickrell
When we finally sat down on the park bench, I was tired. But my curiousity wouldn't let it rest. I had to ask.
"Grandpa, you know when we passed that hot dog stand guy back there? And how you picked up that wallet on the cart? And how you walked over to the kid who left it and bumped into him? I saw the wallet fall out of your hand, and you remarked to his Dad how clumsy you were getting, as you got older. I don't understand..."
"Why not? The young man got his wallet back, and won't have his Dad thinking he was careless about it. Jim gave him that wallet on his birthday, couple days ago, and wants to know that Trevor values it."
"Yeah, but why didn't you just hand it to him? He won't know what you did, now? Somebody else might of stole'd it!"
The was a bit of a pause, and I began to think I should've made more plain that I sure wouldn't have stolen it.
Grandpa rubbed some chapstick on his lip. "Some kids have been known to secretly pick up trash off of the lawn of an old couple who can't bend down. Mostly, no one ever knows about such little things, since it might embarrass a couple who've always taken pride in not burdening others, if they knew they were being helped. A few kids wouldn't want it to get around that they were the ones who dropped some of their paper-route dollars in a house where an old lady, who'd be too ashamed to ask for a handout, would find them, and think she'd forgotten and left them there. They are careful that good things done in secret need to stay secret. They help without fanfare; they fix things without self-promotion; they protect in silence."
A change came over him as he glanced at me, "But you'll soon run into others. Some children shun the idea of running the high hurdles, of scoring one for the team, by secretly doing the right thing... once they realize that they can gain much more attention by holding court with the latest gossip about other kids. They become the center of attention as they delight the sort of audience which relishes such things. They dutifully and publicly correct the illusion that the small kid in the class made the touchdown, with the truth that both teams carefully conspired to 'make it so', to please his ailing mom. They are so truthful like that... So dedicated."
He looked with revulsion at a discarded newspaper lying under the bench, and continued. "Later they further such careers as 'journalists'. They delight their voyeur readers with tidbits about the secret new ways police have of catching pedophiles; and about the ways a drunk driver can beat the charges. They show their courage by exposing the secret studies of where we are the most vulnerable to terrorists, and which countries' leaders and bankers have risked murder of their families to pass us secret information about that sort of scum. Afterwards, they give themselves awards, like an antiseptic, applied to guard against the chance of consequences coming home to them."
As he spoke, I remembered at school when my teacher showed us that only reporters could thwart a power-mad military-capitalist complex. I'd have to share with her what Grandpa said. She'll be so glad to know all that stuff wasn't true. And I knew of just the kids Grandpa was talking about, but they're all bigger than me. "But Grandpa, what can I do? I'm just a kid..."
"Maybe it is time to tell you a secret. A secret widely known, and unknown." He smiled at my sudden interest, and whispered, "We all are. It's just that some of us kids have gotten older, and we begin to understand what our granddads, and their granddads, did for us all. Things we didn't know about when we were your age, because things done for attention are different than things done for love.
"A few of those great things draw in our breath, when we accidentally open that dusty cigar box with the medals in it, and the pictures of buddies who never came back. We won't talk about the pictures of the foreign ladies who-." A grin briefly wiped several decades from his face, "Ah, what it must have been like, to have been young, single, and to have survived the war, in my Grandfather's day...
"What can a small kid like you do? You'll find out, as you grow up, about the power of shame. No, it won't change those who reap shame their whole lives and have grown immune to it. But it might just give pause to other kids watching, who might be initially envious of that attention. They may realize the cost to themselves of such behavior. Just tell the bigger kid that you are ashamed of him, and walk away. You couldn't do more damage to him with a two by four. His audience will dissolve."
"Were you ever a hero, Grandpa?"
"What, me? Lord, no! But," his eyes misted over, "I knew a few good buddies who were. We'll visit a couple of them later, when we bring the flowers to decorate my Grandpa's final billet. We'll bring extra flowers."
I was perplexed, "It's just that when Barry came home for a visit, with some of his college friends, some of them were making fun of his idea about being an army officer after he graduates, and being a tool of the borgewa, burgeswaus,- I can't pronounce it! Anyway, I've never seen Grandma so mad before, and I guess neither had they, cause they went all white in the face, like. Then Grandma said something funny- that you saved a couple of guys who were hurt real bad, somewhere, and that the President personally gave you a special-"
"Yeah, well, your grandma is a pit bull about some things when she's riled." He picked up the discarded newspaper, "But she talks too much."
I hid a grin.
As he tossed the paper into a nearby refuse bin, I caught a glance of the caption, 'The Newspaper of Record.'
"People ought to put trash where it belongs."
Wiping his hands unconsciously on his jeans, he mused, "We won't know if we were heroes until we finally look down at you when you're our age... and watch you tell your grandsons about secrets..."
very good post~!
Obviously not written by a "journalist."
Wow, best read of the day. Thankyou.
And grandpa says, "the nasty papers will keep printing as long as the voyeuristic audiences keep buying...
Brave. Well done.
Great read... thank you!
Wish this dust would stay out of my eyes. :)
Nice post. Thank you.
bump and a bookmark!
Grampa is a great guy.
Great post, and quite a spirit-lifter!
Speaking of the self annointed 'Newspaper of Record' ... earlier today I caught a snippet of the 'Laura Ingraham' show on the car radio. She read an e-mail from a young lieutenant sent to the editors of the NYSlimes. It addressed the issue of their releasing harmful information concerning the governments tracking terrorist funding around the world. The lieutenant's e-mail was well written stating that he sees daily what this funding buys terrorists ... the lieutenant is a Harvard law school graduate and was working in a clerkship capacity when called up for duty. He stated categorically that what the NY Times did broke the law and by the time he returns stateside he hopes the key editors have traded their A/C offices for a prison cell where they deserve to be.
This e-mail, to my knowledge, has not been posted here at FR ... if someone can find this e-mail it needs to be posted.
My kids had a grandpa like that. May he rest in peace.
Now THIS is a heart-warmer. Happy Birthday, America!
Those men, who were in the war, the real heroes, did not talk about it.
Only the liars, braggarts, the manipulators, the ones who were 'protected from the true vageries of war', come back and say things like "I was in Vietnam and got Purple a Heart. Did I ever tell you?"
Wonderful! A keeper (or, better yet, a passer-arounder)!
All his life he did good things without ever telling anyone. It was only years later that we heard from his neighbors what kind of man he was to his fellow citizens.
He was tough but fair to his own children. Three of his sons saw active duty in WW II.
Fed and clothed a half a dozen family members during the depression.
This was a man beloved by his grandchildren...and he is missed.
Thank you ever so much Grandpa.
We were truly blessed.
My hubby born late to this man served during Viet Nam, not in country but here in the states, and our son served four years during X42 stationed in Germany.
It was all about duty, honor, country.
Exactly, precisely right. That's why we need to try to find some way to turn off their audience. They won't stop, but maybe we can run them out of business, by making their audience understand what enabling means.
Thanks for the reply.
I hope you will accept that this is not gratuitous statement, when I say- I didn't write the story about my grandpa, but about yours. Yours, and a hundred, a thousand men like him; men like HuntsvilleTxVeteran, and all of the others since time began, who have ever stood at the edge of a threatened village and resolved that, "You wanna get to these people-you gotta get through me and my buddies here first."
Not in bragadoccio, but just to steel themselves to do that thing. Wherever many of them are now, they are looking down on a new crop of Marines and G.I.s, and their approval is not grudging. But the ones still alive will only spare a nod to those troops. Yet that nod says more than a whole set of encyclopedias, and is more esteemed than solid diamond. Can't be bought for any price- gotta be earned.
We won't know what they all did- at least I won't. But I watched a whole park full of kids smiling today, waiting for fireworks. On second thought, maybe I do know what they did...
My actual grandpa just ran a gas station and raised 13 kids. Never had any secrets. At least, never had any that he told me about.
Wait a minute- hmmmm....
I read this out loud to my husband...thank you so much for posting.
I can't wait to pass this along to my own grandchildren. What a beautiful story to teach them the real meaning of honor, integrity, morality, ethics....
You made it come alive tonight. Thanks!
Blessings on all the men who kept their secrets.
They were and are the heroes in the eyes of the Lord.
Thanks for the great post.
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