Recovery of a Hero Ch. 02byRoadbug©
Meeting a Hero
This story is a work of fiction only. Any chance resemblance to actual people or events is purely accidental.
After about a month in the Hospital, I was cycled back to the U.S. for rehab therapy and medically retired from the Marines.
Flying home again for the first time since my reserve unit was activated, I was glad to exchange my uniforms for civvies again. What a relief to be out of those desert camouflage uniforms at last.
I called my wife and told her when my plane would arrive and asked her about Eldarin. She said that he had been transferred to a V.A. hospital on the west coast and was fairly close.
We lived in the Seattle area, and that's where he had been placed.
When I asked how he had been placed in a Veterans hospital and Janice said "He's a veteran himself, and he was placed there since he actually lives on the coast here in Washington".
I said "Good, that makes it easier to get him out when he's ready and bring him here until he's able to take care of himself."
After my plane landed at Sea Tac Airport, I got off and went through baggage claim. My wife and the girls were waiting in the USO lounge as only passengers were allowed in the boarding area since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
I met them there and got mobbed by 3 females as soon as I walked in.
"Oh God, I'm glad your home," Janice said.
"So am I love, so am I," I responded.
Sally was bouncing up and down like a hyperactive super ball yelling "My brothers' home, my brothers home" repeatedly. Erica just hugged me and said "welcome home big brother."
I said "It's almost worth leaving just for the way I get welcomed home again".
"That doesn't mean you're leaving again so don't start thinking about it," Janice stated.
As we headed to the walkway to the parking garage, I asked about Eldarin. My wife told me that we could go to the hospital and ask as it was on the way home anyway.
With that settled, we packed my luggage into the back of my old crew cab pickup and headed to the freeway for the short drive to the hospital where Eldarin was.
When we got there, we went to the information desk and asked for him. We were directed to the ward where he was staying, although Sally had to stay at the snack bar as you had to be 16 to visit patients' rooms.
Sally was unhappy about this, but she agreed and got a snack to eat while she waited.
The rest of us took the elevator up to the floor where the ward was that Eldarin was assigned to.
After checking in at the nurses' station, we went to his room and found him playing with the remote for his T.V.
When we walked in, he looked up at us and then said "I know you. Don't member from where, but I know you."
Then his eyes started wandering around the room and he started to mumble about the nurses not letting him have his coffee or go outside.
He sounded like a little kid that was upset about not getting to go outside and play.
While we listened to this, a nurse walked in behind us.
She said "He's been like that off and on for several days from a bad reaction to some pain medication."
"The doctors don't know exactly what the problem is, but he starts talking like a small child and doesn't seem to know where he is."
I asked "Can he go outside? My youngest sister-in-law wants to meet him but she can't come up here as she's under 16".
"What relation to him are you?" the nurse asked.
I said "I'm the reason he's here. I got shot in both legs in Bagdad and was under fire when he left cover and came and got me."
"He got hit twice pulling me to safety and if it wasn't for him I would have either bled to death or been shot again."
After taking a deep breath, I said "I owe him my life and I intend to repay that debt the best way I can. If he needs something I'll leave my home phone number and cell number for you to call."
The nurse said "Let me check his chart real quick and I'll let you know. He has no next of kin listed, and you're the first visitors he's had since he was brought here."
After checking his chart on his bed, she said "He can go anywhere on the hospital grounds as long as he's escorted by someone, but he has to be attended at all times because of his mental state."
She added, "We don't know the exact cause yet and we don't know how he'll act if he's left alone, and he's already tried to sneak out several times. I've taken him outside a few times on my lunch break and he loves to watch the jets flying over."
" When he's lucid, he's fun to talk to and seems very well educated, but there are no signs for when he will lapse into this state and no way to tell how long he'll be like this."
"How long do these episodes last?" I asked.
"Anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours or a bit longer."
"Can he walk at all?"
"Yes, but only for a short time before he gets tired. The injury to his left hip caused a lot of problems at first, but is slowly healing."
"It may be a few more months before he's able to walk more than a short distance, but with therapy, he should be able to walk with only a little bit of a limp."
"Ok" I said, "We want to sign him out for an hour or so and take him outside for awhile. My youngest sister-in-law really wants to meet him and wouldn't forgive me if we didn't give her a chance."
"I'll get him ready then. Just go to the desk where you checked in and tell the nurse there that you want to sign out a patient for visitation and come back."
"He'll be ready by then as he isn't hard even when he's like this."
"While you're down stairs, get him a cup of espresso and you'll see the biggest smile you ever saw. He loves his coffee and a cigarette now and then."
While Janice and Erica waited, I signed Eldarin out and went back and got him. He seemed to be more lucid now, and asked me where he knew me from. I told him that I was the one he dragged to safety when he got shot in Iraq.
"Sure, I remember that. You're the one who got it in the legs when the jeep got hit."
He looked at the nurse and said: "I remember. I told you I wasn't being bad when I got hurt. See? He was there too and I wasn't bad, I was being good."
The nurse said: "I knew you were being good. You're always good. I saw you with that little girl yesterday when she fell outside. You picked her up and held her while she was crying and just rocked her in your chair."
She looked at me and said "Yesterday, when I took him outside, a little girl was with her father. He had lost his legs in Iraq, and she fell while she was pushing him around in his wheelchair."
"Eldarin picked her up as she was crying about her knee, and just rocked her till she stopped. He didn't say anything, he just held her."
"Then when she stopped, he just smiled at her and said that a little fall like that couldn't stop a brave girl like her, and then he handed her to her father and went to sleep."
"He tends to go to sleep at odd times, so you have to keep him strapped into his chair or stay next to him if he gets up."
"The only other thing is that he'll want a cigarette when you get outside. I buy him a pack now and then, and he pays me back. The pack is in his bathrobe but he doesn't have a lighter as it's in patient storage right now."
I said "It shouldn't be too hard to get a light, as I saw a lot of patients out front smoking."
"I just hope my wife doesn't get mad as she hates cigarettes. Her uncle died from lung cancer last year and was a smoker. She blames cigarettes for that although the cancer was more likely to have come from asbestos."
After the talk with the nurse, I pushed the wheelchair to the waiting area and joined my wife and Erica. "Are you girls ready?" I asked.
They both said "Yes", so we went to the elevator and went down to the cafeteria where Sally was waiting.
When we got there, Sally jumped up and ran over and hugged Eldarin and said: "Thank you for rescuing my big brother."
Eldarin got a strange look on his face and said: "Who are you? Do I know you? I don't remember real good sometimes."
"You saved my big brother in Iraq", Sally said. "Because of you, he came home alive so I'll always be your friend."
Eldarin got that confused look on his face again, and said: "Can I have my coffee now? I've been good just like I said I would be."
Sally looked at me with a frown and asked: "What's the matter with him?"
I told Janice to get him a big espresso and Erica to take him to a table while I explained to Sally about his mental problem from the reaction to medication.
I took Sally to a corner table away from the others and told her quietly: "He had a bad reaction to some medication, and sometimes he lapses like that and talks like a little child.
"It isn't his fault, and the nurse said that he seems to be improving a bit, but we have to watch him closely because he might hurt himself. He also suddenly falls asleep for short periods."
Sally looked at me and said: "Well, I'll just have to watch real close then, won't I? After all, he saved my big brother so I owe him."
With that, I smiled and gave Sally a hug and took her back over to the others. I sat down and we talked for a bit while Eldarin drank his espresso.
"Shall we go outside now?" I asked after he had finished. The others agreed, and before I could get up, Sally jumped up and started to push Eldarin to the door.
"My job now", she said. I wasn't going to argue about it with her, because she would never give in on anything once she decided on something.
It's like trying to fight a tidal wave when she's like that.
Janice just watched and smiled at me. I knew then that I was beaten and that before I even knew there was a fight. Being outnumbered by women can be that way sometimes, I guess.
We went outside, and headed over to the smoking area where a few others had congregated. I took the pack of cigarettes out of Eldarins pocket, and handed him one. He asked for a light, and one of the others lit his cigarette for him.
When he had it lit, he said: "Hey Dar, is this some of your family?"
Eldarin looked at him with that confused expression of his and said "I know you don't I? I have a hard time remembering sometimes, but I know you I think."
The other man said, "Yes, you know me. I'm in the room next to yours, remember? We played cards the other night."
"Cards?" Eldarin said. "We played cards? I haven't played cards for a long time. I wish I could remember better."
"You will, Dar. It isn't your fault you can't right now, but you'll get better. You already have, cause you beat me at Rummy when we played. You remembered all the cards and you won."
He looked at me and held out his hand and said "Staff sergeant Henry Grayson, retired."
I took his hand and said "Sergeant George Carson and my wife, Janice, and her sisters Erica and Sally Brandt."
"So", Henry asked, "How do you know the Chief here?"
"I'm the reason he's here" I said. "He got shot pulling me to cover when our humvee was disabled in an ambush." "I didn't even know at the time that he was a vet, let alone a Warrant Officer."
"He wasn't then" said Henry. "The Secretary of the Navy asked the Secretary of the Army to recall him under the Soldiers and Sailors Act."
"The recall order was dated as the day before he was wounded so the Navy could give him a bit more than just a thank you letter."
"They also gave him the permanent rank of Army CW4 with full benefits. They still have him listed on detached duty to the navy, but I doubt that they'll do much more than the Navy Cross and 2 of them forgot to duck badges."
"2 Purple Hearts and the Cross?" I asked, surprised.
"Yup, and the Army might dump a Bronze or Silver Star on him too. I don't know if he'll get much more, but when they finish with him, he'll be set for life if he ever gets out of here."
"From what I was told, they intend to give him full retirement from the Army and the Department of the Navy will give him a Civil Service retirement pension too."
I asked, "How do you know all this?"
"I was in personnel when I got hit by mortar frags last year in Iraq. I was stationed at Fort Lewis, so I still know a few people, and when they brought Dar in I asked around to find out a bit about him."
"He's been here about a month now, and no one has been here to see him except a few Navy flunkeys checking on him."
"I don't know if he has any family or not but I do know that a lot of interesting things have been going on about him. It seems he's got a few eyes on him."
"Well, I intend to get him out of here as soon as I can. He'll be staying with us until he can take care of himself physically and mentally." I said. "I'm the one who's still alive because of him and I'll make sure that he's got a family when he needs it."
"Besides, that little twerp over there would kill me if I didn't take him home." I pointed at Sally as I said this. She stuck her tongue out at me and continued to sit by Eldarin.
I told the others "I have to go inside with Janice for a bit and get registered for services, so keep an eye on Sally and her boyfriend, Erika. Don't let them get into trouble."
Sally again stuck her tongue out at me as Janice and I went to the front desk. I took out my release and retirement orders and my DD214 and my ID while we waited in line.
When we got up to the desk, I handed my papers and ID to the woman sitting there and told her I needed to register for services here.
She got out the forms and handed them to me with a clip board and said, "Please fill these out and bring them back here."
"We'll get the registration started when your finished, but it might take a few months to get you assigned to a clinic here as we have a long waiting list."
"It helps that you're retired, and have all your documents here now but it still takes a bit." If you need any medical care before then, you can come into the walk in clinic any time as it's 24 hours."
"For service connected medical emergencies, you can go to any hospital and show them your medical card that we'll make up for you when your done with the registration forms."
With that, she turned to the next person in line and Janice and I went over to a row of seats by a small coffee bar run by some older men wearing VFW hats and badges.
I asked Janice if she wanted a cup, and she said, "I'll get us both cups and take one out to Mr. DeShade."
I told her, "Based on past experience with the man, I would caution you about calling him that. He'll spend 10 minutes or more explaining how his father and grandfather were Mr. DeShade and since he isn't one of them he isn't a mister."
"He's Eldarin or Dar to his friends. That will include Sally and Erika."
"I don't know why, but he really hates being called mister or sir. He was always friendly to enlisted types to, but didn't seem to like most officers much."
Janice said, "That's ok, as long as he calls me Janice or Janny like the rest of you. I really don't want someone who's almost my dads age calling me Mrs. Carson. When someone does, I look around for mom."
I laughed at that. "I do the same thing when someone calls me Mr. Carson, I look around for my Dad even though he lives in Yuma now."
While Janice was gone, I filled out the forms I'd been given and turned them in. When I got back to the desk, most of the others were gone so it didn't take as long as before.
When I turned in the forms, they sent me to another desk where I had my picture taken, and was given a V.A. medical card. With this finished, I went back outside to collect the girls and Eldarin to take him back to his room.
On arriving, I saw an older woman dressed in a very expensive dress suit with a man of about the same age. They were talking to Eldarin. I immediately saw a resemblance between Eldarin and the woman.
As I got closer, I could here Eldarin saying, "Aunty Dee, Aunty Dee, I'm so happy you came to see me".
I walked up and asked the woman, "Your Eldarins aunt?"
"Yes, on his fathers side. I just found out he was here yesterday, and so Jim and I came down to see him. We saw him here when we drove in, so we came here."
"Well, hello then. I knew Eldarin in Iraq, and he saved my life over their. My wife and I were going to see about taking him home with us when they release him from here, until he recovers enough to take care of himself."
"Oh?", She replied. "Well, we'll have to talk about that later, but if we can work it out, it shouldn't be a problem. I'm the closest family he has left in this state now and that makes me next of kin."
"Because of problems with one of my oldest sons daughters, he had to sell his house to pay for medical expenses, and so he and his family are staying with us right now. We wouldn't have room for him to stay there now even though he'd be welcome."
I asked her where they lived, and she said, "We live in Marysville right now."
"Well we live in east of Lynnwood on an old farm so if you wanted, you'd be able to visit him a lot easier than coming all the way here."
I pulled out my note pad and pen (I carried one the whole time I was on active duty), and wrote down our address and my phone numbers. As I gave her the page, I said that she could call any time to discuss Eldarin. She agreed.
With that, I told Sally to get Eldarin and take him back to the hospital entrance because we had to go now. She got up and started to push him to the hospital as Eldarins' aunt said, "Well that'll keep him busy when he gets better. He's always loved kids."
"I'm Donna, by the way, and this is my husband Jim," she said.
"Very glad to meet you and your husband, Donna. I hope we can work things out and get Eldarin out of here. I think he'd do much better at our place than here, as he'd be able to go outside much more often and wouldn't have to sneak out."
"Sneak out? That sounds like his dad. When he was still able he'd sneak out at night and wander all over the hospital. Drove the staff nuts when they couldn't find him."
"Well", I said, "Like father, like son I guess. If you want to come up with us, I'll show you where his ward is."
She said, "Thank you, I'd appreciate that. I get lost here every time I visit now, since all the new construction."
I looked around, and didn't see anything really new. I asked her what she meant and she said, "I used to visit my brother here years ago, and Its changed a lot since then. I hardly recognize the place from the way it was 30 years ago."
As we walked up to the hospital entrance, I saw Sally struggling to get Eldarin the rest of the way up the slope from the smoking area to the hospital entrance.
I asked, "Need any help munchkin?"
"No, my job now. He's just kind of heavy is all but I'll get him there." As I said, when Sally decides to do something, there is no changing her mind.
When we got Eldarin checked back in and into his bed, I turned to Donna and said, "It's been a pleasure to meet you, and I really hope we can work something out about Eldarin. I'd hate to leave him here any longer than necessary."
Donna replied, "I agree about that." His father died here, and that will bring back bad memories for him."
"I didn't know about that, but that just means that the sooner the better for him then."
"Yes, we'll work something out soon. I'll talk to the admin people before I leave today and I'll call you and let you know. Then I'd like to come out to your place to see where he'd be living if he went home with you."
"That would be great. Maybe we could get Eldarin out for a day trip then and you could bring him there to. That way, we'd know if he liked it there," I said.
"Good idea," Donna said. "I'll look into it and give you a call in a couple hours."
"Fine," I responded. "Now I have to go. I just got off the plane a couple hours ago and haven't been home yet, and it's been a bit over a year. I'll be waiting for your call, so have a nice visit with Eldarin."