I noticed him as he sat on the motorized shopping cart and guided a half-filled grocery cart firmly with his left hand. He turned into the aisle by the dairy products. He picked up a gallon of 1% Milk. His cart already contained a case of Gatorade and a carton of Mountain Dew underneath the boxes of oatmeal, Oreo cookies, and a bag of Fuji apples. He also had bananas, grapes, a honeydew melon and tomatoes. There were frozen Stouffer’s TV dinners and several boxes of pot pies. He stopped briefly at the cigarette counter, then went on without choosing any. He reached for a bottle of Aleve and a can of shaving cream. He passed by the meat bin, without stopping. He raised his eyes to look at me as he maneuvered past my overflowing cart. His eyes were pale gray, so washed out–hardly any sparkle to them. His hair was neatly trimmed and short, showing beneath the cap he wore. Even now, he was a handsome man.
He was a veteran.
I know because he was shopping in a military commissary, the day after Memorial Day.
I wish I had at least said hello to him. I wish I had thanked him for serving our country. © Freeda Baker Nichols