Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The past is another country...

Tonight, we were going through boxes in the storage unit that haven't been opened in years (two moves? three, for some!)

Peter broke out in surprised laughter, and waggled a picture frame at me. "Here! I can't believe I still have this! Can you find me in here?"

I took it, and immediately was stymied by my inability to read Afrikaans. The military class standing proud in their uniforms, though, was perfectly clear. I looked at it, and there, near the end of one row, were a pair of appled cheeks and two ears he'd grow into. This was clearly long before the next picture I know, which shows him among a group of very dirty, bearded, bedraggled and triumphant men standing on captured Russian equipment, but the cheeks are still the same. As I pointed at it, and he confirmed with a chuckle. "Is this back when you were a bright-eyed innocent and unworldly young man?"

He cast his eyes up, and the grin deepened in his white and silver beard. "Further deponent sayeth not!" He took the frame back, while I ruminated on that very South African variation of "no comment."

But as he packed it carefully away in the very small pile of things to keep, he took one long last look at it. The smile fell away to something much sadder, more wistful and quiet. "That was before I learned that I wasn't bulletproof."

"Ah."

He gently put the picture facedown, and left the past staring into shadow.

2 comments:

Rev. Paul said...

Okay, that actually brought a tear or two. We have a similar picture of me taken about six weeks before my ... let's call it "injuries incurred while overseas". In said pic, I'm standing tall, strong ... and so very young & innocent.

Peter spoke truly.

Old NFO said...

Young and innocent... We were ALL there once... sigh