Inspired by “Makes You Think,” written by Misstaken.
“Doug ... Doug, I need to go see Sam today,” my wife said, very softly, her voice barely above a whisper. We were lying in bed.
I already knew that was coming.
For the past few days, Sandy had been very quiet instead of the almost bubbly woman I had grown to love so much. And several times at night I knew she had gotten up in the middle of the night and gone into the living room to cry by herself.
“Do you want me to go with you?” I asked.
Usually, Sandy went by herself and would be gone three or four hours. Sometimes she asked me to go with her and wait in the car. On those occasions she only spent an hour or so with Sam.
Twice, maybe three times in the past three years, she had asked me to watch.
That was very difficult.
“No ... no, that won’t be necessary, Doug,” she said.
Sandy got up and I watched her walk across the bedroom to the bathroom. A few minutes later I heard her turn the shower on and adjust the water.
While she was taking a shower I got up and dressed, then went into the kitchen and made a pot of coffee.
Usually on Saturday mornings I would also have started breakfast for the two of us before I went outside to start on the never ending chores of running a dirt farm, but I knew Sandy would not be interested in eating this morning.
She never was, not when she was about to go meet Sam. She was always too nervous.
If you are not familiar with that term, “dirt farm,” it is a sometimes derogatory, though accurate, term used for a farm that grows crops (corn, wheat, soybeans, etc.) as opposed to a dairy farm or cattle farm. That also makes the two of us “dirt farmers” which implies someone who runs a farm primarily without the use of hired hands. The only time we hired someone to help was during harvest time.
Some 30 minutes later Sandy walked into the kitchen.
As usual, whenever she was going to spend some time with Sam ... she was really dressed up.
Usually, Sandy almost never wore makeup, except when Sam was waiting. Her makeup really accented the deep blue, almost Navy blue, of her eyes.
Her long blonde hair was perfectly coiffured.
Instead of her almost habitual blue jeans and short-sleeve shirt, today she was wearing a knee-length dress with a very low-cut bodice
She always said she liked to look pretty for Sam.
It is not like she never dressed up for me, but she always spent a little extra time and effort when Sam was waiting.
Sandy would never win a beauty contest. When she was dressed up like today, however, she could definitely attract the eyes of most men.
I don’t know exactly what image most people would have in mind if I said the words, “Midwest farmer’s daughter,” but that was what I thought the first time I saw Sandy. Of course, in her case, it was true.
She was almost as tall as I am. And I’m 6’2”. With even moderate heels she was actually a little taller.
Definitely not fat, but not some skinny ass model either.
Sandy’s shoulders were broad, her arms were muscled from hard work on a farm and her legs were perhaps thicker than SHE liked, but I loved her legs. Again, a REAL woman and not some artificial looking model.
Sandy wasn’t especially big up top; I knew she was a “B” cup, but I loved her breasts. Sandy’s hips were also very wide.
Sandy’s jaw was rather prominent and it was obvious her nose had been broken sometime in the past. Most folks would probably also say her mouth was too wide, but I am not most folks.
I was reading a book and the author described one of the women in the book as “handsome” rather than pretty or attractive. He went on to add that while pretty could fade over the years, and, as they say, beauty is only skin deep, a “handsome” woman will still be a handsome woman whether she is 20 or 40 or 60 or even 80.
I loved my real woman, my handsome woman.
She silently poured herself a cup of coffee, no cream, just a touch of sugar, and sat down at the kitchen table as she drank it.
“On second thought, Doug,” she said, again very softly, “I ... I would like it if you came with me.”
I nodded and grabbed my keys and cap.
It was about a half-hour drive. Neither of us spoke a word during the trip.
As I said, I usually just sat in the car and waited but today Sandy told me, just before she got out of the car, “Come with me, Doug.”
On the two or three previous times when I actually went with Sandy to meet Sam, she would walk ahead and I would trail a few steps behind. Today, though, she grabbed my hand and we walked together.
It didn’t take long, perhaps 10 minutes, to walk across the rolling grass.
The headstone, provided by the Veterans’ Administration, was simple:
Samuel L. Jones
Medal of Honor
The dates of birth and death followed that, with the last line reading:
No mention of all the men he saved that day when he launched a one-man counterattack to draw the attention away from those of us who were trapped.
Yes ... I said “us.”
My best friend ... the best friend I had ever had ... had died saving me.
Thanks to Sam, we were able to organize ourselves and launch our own attack, quickly killing most of the insurgents and driving the others away.
Sam ... Sam had literally died in my arms.
His last words to me were... “Take care of Sandy for me.”
I only had two weeks left in my tour, and less than two months left of my enlistment.
Despite my promise to Sam, it took me well over a year just to summon the courage to mail her a Christmas card. I don’t know if I would have done even that if another friend of mine, Jim Beam, hadn’t provided the liquid courage to do so.
To tell you the truth, at first I didn’t even remember dropping the card in my mail box for the post office to pick up.
Imagine my surprise just a few days later to receive a five-page hand-written letter from Sandy, along with an invitation to spend Christmas with her and her family on her Midwestern farm. She also included her email address and even then, it took me almost three weeks to respond. During those three weeks I also must have received a half-dozen hand-written letters.
Every one of those letters included something to the effect that Sam had told her all about me and she couldn’t wait to meet someone who had served with Sam.
All I could think about was how she would react once she found out Sam died ... Sam died saving my life.
I was having a deep philosophical conversation with another friend, Jose Cuervo, when I finally emailed Sandy and told her I was the very LAST person she EVER wanted to meet since I was responsible for Sam’s death. Sam would still be alive if it weren’t for me and those other guys in my platoon.
I think it would have been obvious to anyone who read the email that I was ... was not ... exactly sober when I wrote it.
Sandy responded and told me I had two choices: One, I was to be at her house by 12 noon on Christmas Day, or; Two, she would be at my house the day after Christmas. She even sent me a copy of the airplane ticket she had already purchased to prove she was serious.