It was a Saturday afternoon in June of 2019. My cell phone rang, and I could see that it was my father's sitter calling. She said that Daddy was agitated and in pain. She thought he needed to be checked by a Hospice of East Texas (HOET) nurse. I immediately phoned the HOET call center. Daddy had been under their care for 3 months. I jumped in my car and drove the short distance from my house in Longview to Daddy's in Gladewater. Not long after I arrived, the doorbell rang. The nurse at the door was a young man who I had not met. I ushered him to Daddy's bedroom where he introduced himself and asked if he could take some vitals. The visit was short, as Daddy was not able to talk, but the nurse was able to get him comfortable with medication.
I walked the nurse to the door and thanked him for coming to help. As the door was closing, he turned around and asked in Daddy had served in the war. I said, "yes." "Which branch," he asked. I told him the Air Force. "What did he fly?" "B-17's." His eyes sparkled as he told me his grandfather had flown the same planes. He asked, "May I go back and talk to your father?" So, back to the bedroom we went. He grabbed Daddy's hand and thanked him for his service and told him about his grandfather. He asked Daddy where he had received his flight training. I answered for Daddy, as he was too weak. I told him "Cookeville, Tennessee." Daddy opened his eyes and looked at me like I was crazy. With all his strength, he whispered, "Blytheville Arkansas." What a proud Air Force pilot he was! As I was to learn the following week, Daddy's basic training was in Tennessee, but he learned to fly B-17's in Arkansas.
That young man not only eased my father's pain that Saturday afternoon, his empathy and gratitude also gave an elderly veteran a sense of pride for service to his country. I will never forget our exchange and the lesson it taught me - we are never too old to be appreciated and admired! Hospice of East Texas and its gracious caregivers are fulfilling a noble calling.