Berts Story

—Berts Story—

His name is “Bert.”
He’s Ex-Military—Navy—’76 to ’84.
He told me that he had recently gotten out of the hospital. He had a blood clot in his lung, and they had to perform surgery to fix it.
He stands at 6 feet tall and weighs 150 pounds—an older man in his ’60s.
I met Bert at the Motel where I was staying. We hit it off.

“I’m a ‘Crackin’ times 2,” he said.

“I’m not familiar with that term. What’s a ‘Crackin?'”

“I’ve been around the world twice, see.
In the Navy, if you go around the world once, you become a Crackin, and if you go around twice, you become a Crackin times 2.”

“I wanted to ‘re-up,’ in ’84, but my Grandmother and Grandfather needed me to come back to the dairy farm and help. This whole area is dairy farms. They had hit some hard times. So, I came back to help.”

“It all worked out, though. I met my wife the year I came back. Married her the next year and we stayed married.”

“How old were you when you got out of the service and went back to the farm?” I asked.

“Oh, …Twenty-Six. I was married when I was twenty-seven.
I knew as soon as I first saw “Gail” that she’d become my wife. The secret to our marriage is being a team player. We’re a team. We do what’s best for the team. Also, never go to bed mad.”

Bert has a smile on his face as he talks about his wife.

“Yes, Ma’am, can I get some more water, Please?” I ask the waitress.

“Yes, Sir. You need anything, Sir?”

Bert says, “No, Ma’am, I’m fine.”

I say to Bert, “I took a tour of a dairy farm, and it’s a lot of hard work. I had no idea how much went into it.”

“Yep. A lot of hard work. We’d get up to milk the cows starting at 3 in the morning. Then again, later in the day. We’d milk around a hundred and fifty cows twice a day, every day.”

I let that sink into my head for a minute.

“Did y’all use the milking machines, so you didn’t have to do it by hand?”

“Oh yeah. You have to.”

“All the cows loved my wife. We had one that we called, “Lucy” which was short for “Lucifer.” Lucy was mean. She didn’t want anybody to milk her. Well, anybody but my wife— Lucy’d let Gail milk her.”

Bert looks off in the distance through the windows.

“Gail could cook, too. I mean anything. She could cook it all.
Anything you see at the store that’s pre-made, Gail could cook it from scratch. She made her Yeast Rolls from scratch— She made everything from scratch.
Her cornbread was three inches thick. It’d have a crunchy top and was moist. Mmm-mmm.”

“I love good cornbread,” I say.

Bert says back to me, “If you came over to our house, you’d leave full. She loved cooking for people. She loved watching people eat her cooking. She loved people.”

I ask, “You want anything else to eat?”

“No, no, I’m good. I want to thank you, though.”

“What for?”

“You haven’t judged me. People judge the homeless.”
“You also haven’t asked how I got here in my life.”

I reply, “You’re a good person. I can feel it. I’m not staying here long, but I want to do what I can while I’m here. It was good breaking bread with you.”

I continued, “The world is full of good people.
But, unfortunately, the bad people are the ones who get all the attention. The others, though, the ones who don’t get attention, the ones who don’t say much, are good people who care.”

Bert says, “I’ll tell you, …three years ago, when she died, …everything in my life changed.
I weighed 230 pounds before she died. I weigh 150 pounds now.
But me having to go to the hospital helped. I didn’t want to go to the hospital, but I was sick. It turned out to be a Blessing, though.
The hospital got the VA involved, and the VA got me in touch with a husband and wife team who are in the military and work with homeless veterans, and they are getting me situated again.”

He continued, “I’m staying at the hotel for two weeks while they get me into some housing. If I’m not in some type of housing in two weeks, they’ll get my room for another two weeks. It’s a program that I think the VA started. I’ve even got a dentist appointment to get some dentures.”

“That’s great,” I say, “I’ll bet you can’t wait to get some dentures.”

He smiles, “Yes! They said it would take 10 to 12 days to get them back. I told them that I ain’t had any in over a year, so 12 more days was nothing.”

“I’m leaving soon. You know I’m gonna keep Praying for you. Is there anything else I can do for you? Anything you can think of?”

Bert looks at me; then, a smile grows on his face. “You’ve done enough. Thank you.”

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