Before boarding my flight to San Diego, I was sitting very close to the gate when an elderly fellow was pushed by me in his wheelchair to board first. He was exceedingly thin, with no cushion left in his face, yet not much sag either, so the most noticeable thing about him were his gaunt leathery cheeks. Or lack thereof. As the Southwest attendant scanned his ticket he told her at a volume saved for those with hearing problems that: "I'm a Pearl Harbor survivor! And I'm 94 years old!" The lady responded how amazing that was and promptly got on the PA and announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd just like everyone here to know that this gentleman is a Pearl Harbor survivor. And he's 94 years old! Isn't that incredible??" A waiting area typically filled with people who refuse to make eye contact with one another (or maybe it's just me) suddenly flooded with cheers and applause, and I was left gulping and trying to hide a few welling tears. I was so touched that she gave him that moment. He looked so proud. I told the story the next day over brunch to a tableful of girls, and no one was left free of gulps. I would blame the hangovers, but I think it's more likely that birds of a subtley sappy feather flock together.

No comments: