The Heart of a Nomad
by Jared Z. Troutman
Friday, January 02, 2004
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This poem is dedicated to my friend, Benny, who died New Year’s Eve. Benny has been living in a nursing home for eleven years since he had a major stroke in 1992. Several months ago, I stopped by that same nursing home where my girlfriend, Sally, works. I stopped in to ask her if she knew someone who could teach me how to write proper. (I know now that I should have said “properly” instead of “proper” because Benny taught me about adverbs and such things.) Sally said she couldn’t write her way out of a paper hat but said she would ask around.
I walked away from Sally’s desk and heard someone tapping Morse code. I stopped and listened. As a teenager, I was a Hamm operator but could never have hammered code at the rate that I was hearing it. I could understand a few words and felt like I was intruding on the conversation. I wasn’t able to pull myself away, though. I was inexorably drawn to that rat-a-tat-tat sound. (Benny taught me that word, inexorably, just a week or so ago.) I peeked into the doorway of one of the patient’s rooms where the Morse code emanated from. It was the damnedest thing I’d ever seen. A man, not much older than myself, was talking on the phone. I guess you could call it talking. He had a gadget attached to the mouthpiece, which he used to tap his message. After he hung up, I tapped “May I come in?” on the door. My answer came back so rapidly that I couldn’t decipher it.
Benny and I became close friends. Since his stroke, he had to rely on the Morse code he learned in the Navy during World War II to speak. Like someone whose been in solitary confinement, Benny was starved for someone to talk to. At the rate he was tapping, it didn’t take long before I learned that he had also been an English teacher. Benny’s been teaching me how to write via Morse code.
Before I go on to my poem, I want to share with you the letter that I received yesterday morning along with everything Benny owned. I’ll spare you the dots and dashes.
Jared, my friend,
These last few months with you have enabled me to be a productive human being again. I can tell you that there is nothing more important than that. When you stop contributing to society, you might as well be dead. I was dead until you tapped on my door. So, in a way, you resurrected me and gave me life for a time. I wish that I could give you what you’ve given me, but knowing your hunger for the ability to write, I suspect and hope that I have.
The Heart of a Nomad
Have you ever started your car,
Wondering where to go or how far? Benny did.
Have you ever set out for a new home,
But didn’t know where it would be? Benny did.
Yesterday, I received a gift from a friend,
More money than I’ve ever had.
So I called my girlfriend, Sally
And said, “Let’s go!”
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“Wherever you want to go,” I said.
So we left Little Rock and headed east;
I laid down in the back seat to take a nap.
I woke up a couple hours later and asked,
“Where are we going, Sally dear?”
“I’ll let you know when we get there.”
Benny would have liked that, so I went back to sleep.
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|Reviewed by Alice Breaux (Reader)
|Thank you so very much Jared for sharing this poem. I know your friend would have been very proud of you for writing this poem for him. Your poem shows feelings that are spoken from the heart. I loved your simplicity. Sometimes simplicity brings out the true feelings which also so very plain to see.|
|Reviewed by Jim Dunlap
|Yes, I am sure Benny would have liked that. This is "heartwarming" even if I don't much care for that word. Sometimes you have to use what fits. :)|
|Reviewed by anne cunningham
|scott z. sent us and for good reason. this was a lovely piece.|
|Reviewed by Bonita Quesinberry, R.C.
|Jared, this is a wonderfully written introduction to both the letter, which spoke volumes, and to your excellent poem: a great tribute to both you and the man to whom you brought so much joy in his last hours. God brought the two of you together and, as His reason always is, both of you benefited. May we all learn from this: the true joy in giving whatever we have to give and for every encounter there is a two-way benefit. ~~Bonnie Q
Associate Editor, WA
Waltsan Publishing, TX
|Reviewed by Anna Marie Fritz
|This is absolutely beautiful...the prose and the poetry
And, yes, Jared...in your poem you have "given" to your
friend Benny. The special things shared by both of you are
"keepers," in your treasure trove of memories.
|Reviewed by Bobbie Hess (Reader)
|Your words will be remembered by all who read, Jared. And what a tribute! Benny would be honored and pleased that your passion in writing will continue. b|
|Reviewed by Connie Washburn (Reader)
|Very beautifully done, Jared. Such a touching, soul wrenching story. Thank you!|
|Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
|Warms the cuckles(?) of this old heart.|
|Reviewed by E T Waldron
|Thank you for sharing this , I'm deeply touched by the wonderful attitude you have. You are a great example of how being compassionate and caring towards someone will always bring rewards.God bless you and Sally and I hope wherever you went you are happy;-)|
|Reviewed by Tami Ryan
Your introduction is as beautiful as your poem. Ya done good. Errr... ummm... I think Benny did I mighty fine job; seems Benny would be pleased.
I'm glad to make your acquaintance; this is wonderful work. Thank you for sharing it with me.
|Reviewed by Safi Abdi
|Sorry about your loss, Jared.
|Reviewed by Scott Zachary
|I had no idea, Jared. What a heart-warming story and poem. You've come a long, long way.
|Reviewed by Kate Clifford
|This is touching and I thank you for sharing this with us.|