by Lynda Pogue
Perhaps some of you will remember the
size and feel of Life Magazine. It defined an era for millions
The editor and the first columnist that
you’d read as you opened the cover was Loudon Wainright… the
table of contents was set on the top of the first page and his
opening article was always beneath. I remember spending hours
pouring over the words and images on every page of that
magazine as I was very young and impressionable and devoured
any writings that sounded like they came from somewhere deep
inside the writer. We learned about the joys and pains of the
whole world through those pages.
One article that Wainright wrote has stuck with me through a
few decades. It hit a chord that still resonates. He was
describing how, no matter how unrealistic one’s dreams might
be… that it was the act of dreaming itself that makes us
human…that dreams bring pleasure, vision and hope He said that
he and his wife would often lie in bed, turn out the lights
and talk about what kind of sailboat they would have in order
to sail around the world. He said they kept this
when they had no money… when they raised their children… and
as the years passed and his wife became ill, they still kept
the fantasy alive. They loved that dream and just talking
about it gave them great happiness. Her words peaked his
imagination and in response, his would peak hers. They spent
years talking about the maps, the winds, the water, the
sights, who they’d meet, what they’d have to do about the
cramped quarters, how they might fix a torn sail in stormy
He ended by saying that he knew that
they’d never actually have this boat and do the trip together
and that they both had known it all those years… and that
didn’t matter one bit because it was the dream that had
brought them hours of pure bliss for each other.
have kept that story in my heart for many years. It leads me
to another one, which you might remember because it is so
profoundly moving and generous of spirit.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.
man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each
afternoon to help
the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only
had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for
hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their
homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service,
where they had been on vacation.
afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up,
he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the
things he could see outside the window
The man in the other bed began to live
for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened
and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world
overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played
on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young
lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a
fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite
detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his
eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the
man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the
other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it. In his
mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with
Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to
bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of
the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.
She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take
the body away
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the
other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The
nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he
was comfortable, she left him alone Slowly, painfully, he
propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the
real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out
the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man
asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased
roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this
nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see
She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
those stories have encouraged me when I needed it. They’re
not so young any more… but I’m still impressionable… and still
And, if you get the chance, please take
the time to thank an olddwar
vet for the privilege of the personal freedom you have.