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All Work and No Play… Visiting Veterans at Manteno Veterans Home

26 Mar

After a long week of looking for jobs and improving my blogging skills, I spent a very blessed Sunday with many friends visiting veterans and taking them some fun things and necessity items. I began my day at 6AM, gearing up and getting ready to ride my Harley. We ate breakfast from 7:30-8:30AM and then rolled out to Manteno Veterans Home. We brought the vets things like puzzle books, note paper, card games, beauty supplies, toiletries, and snacks.

Manteno is home to nearly 250 veterans, 21 of whom are women. These veterans range in age but the majority are seniors. Sadly, some of these folks never have visitors and even sadder, most will stay here until their final day.

The home is lovely, modern, full of windows, has a casual cafe, a chapel, a court yard with a huge wooden gazebo, and they have a beautiful bird cage and fish tank in the common living room.

Now I’m a yapper and my momma always said I’ve never met a stranger, but in a place like this, the awe that one experiences can frankly make you mute. We were there to socialize with the vets and bring some cheer to their day with our visit and our goodies. Initially it can be a little awkward trying to start a conversation with folks you know are not living the way they’d really like to live, folks that are very ill or disabled, folks that sacrificed so much in the name of American Freedom.

But nonetheless, I needed to be blessed today and they needed so as well. My father served 23 years in the US Navy and I figured that would be my jumping off point for a couple of conversations around the room. Well, let me tell you… some of these folks do not need any ice breakers what so ever.

Earl was a jabber jaw; sharing tales of his son and grand son, the farm equipment he used to wrench on, and the collection of antique cars, bikes, and various toys his son has collected. And then there’s Bob… he has dementia and his conversations are coherent one moment and the next, not so much. Bob however, can make one heck of an apple juice toast. It goes something like this: Here’s to the bull, that gave it to the heffer, if not for his red rod, you’d have no meat by God. I dern near spit apple juice everywhere. And check this out, Bob is a huge Elvis fan, with not only a BLU SUEDE license plate on the back of his wheelchair, but was wearing honest to goodness Blue Suede Shoes. The King is not dead because Bob keeps his memory alive. Charles was a more challenging gentleman with whom to converse. I couldn’t get him to say much so I recanting tales of visiting my father on duty days on his submarine and eating in the galley with the wonderful chef they had on board. As Charles enjoyed his chocolate doughnut with the mess and slober of a 3 year old, he repeatedly told me two things: that I had beautiful eyes and that he was on a communications ship when he served 6 years in the US Navy. That’s nearly it, other than, “Can you get me a napkin and more apple juice please?”

I went to Manteno with some folks that have been a wonderful blessing in my life, and I left with blessings of wonderful folks that today, touched my life. I truly wish that war did not exist, but since it does, I am thankful and grateful to all those who have served in our military forces and I wish them and their families peace and honor knowing that their service has not been in vein.

May God Bless Us All and God Bless the USA.

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ABOVE: Volunteers and Earl.

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ABOVE: When we arrived we sorted the items we had brought so they could be properly distributed.

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ABOVE: I am bringing one veteran from the chapel to veterans hall for social time.

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ABOVE: I am having a conversation with a few veterans and one staff member, as well as sharing pictures of my new grand daughter.

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ABOVE: Ladies and Gentleman, this is Bob. I do believe I will remember his toast for a very long time.

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ABOVE: We took our Harleys and our full hearts for a wonderful sunshiny ride when we left Manteno. Smiles and Smiles for Miles.

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