He handed me a poem that starts: “It was the veteran, not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press,” before he knew I was a reporter and I hoped when he found out that he’d know I didn’t mind because I don’t.
Then he gave me what he called a washer and dryer made from a clothes pin with a little ring washer attached.
Then, when somehow in the course of our conversation we found out I had a daughter born on Sept. 22, he gave me an envelope to give her with a $2 bill inside and some quotes about life that she really enjoyed when I passed them along to her.
I’ve seen Gordon since, at every Veterans and Memorial Day activity that Kaysville presents. He usually sits on the front row with his stars-and-stripes tie on and I always try to talk to him and he tells me he reads my stories because he knows me and he’s liked most of them except that one time I wrote a story about his son and failed to mention his son’s in-laws who were really supportive. Could I remedy that now by saying that Rodney and Janice Hill have been a great support to their daughter, Jalyssa, and son-in-law, Erik, as they were starting their family and he was making his dreams of becoming a pilot come true? I feel better now.
I also see Gordon at the ice cream social that he started at his home for the neighbor kids to celebrate the birthday of the ice cream cone and that now is a city-wide celebration in downtown Kaysville.
He sits on a chair on a blanket and reads ice cream stories to the kids and passes out dimes with pins glued on that he calls diamond pins.
If there is a “good-guy-of-the-world” award out there somewhere, I want to nominate Gordon for it.
If there is a “people-that-make-the-world-a-better-place” medal that can be presented, someone needs to present it to Gordon.
I thought about writing a story about his life, his 22 years in the service and 22 at Hill Air Force Base, his family (wife Karin, to whom he’s been married since 1974, four children and going on seven grandchildren), his hobbies (any sports at Davis High and birthday coins for kids). But if I wrote a feature story I’d have to be objective and I want to be subjective this time.
There are lots of passionate people in the world and I love having a job where I get to meet some of them.
There are people of different generations with different histories and experiences, and I hope we all know that when we run into them — at places like veterans events or ice cream socials or even the up-and-coming Thanksgiving dinner — we’ll be better off if we sit and listen a while.
I sat next to Gordon again on my most recent visit to the Kaysville armed services recognition event this month and he gave me two bookmarks. One about the veterans who preserve our freedoms and one about how the clock of life is ticking and how “now is the only time you have so live it with a will.” And he gave me a diamond pin and told me he brought little flags for the cheese cake they were serving for dessert and he also brought fortune cookies for the veterans and their supporters. And he told me that he was going to give a gold dollar to those who got the number 11 (for Veterans Day) on the little paper inside their fortune cookie and he showed me one of the gold dollars and pointed out that it said “In God We Trust” on it.
And he told me that he forgot to tell me before that the reason he loves the ice cream social is because it makes the kids so happy and they look forward to it so much.
And he told me about a diamond pin he gave someone recently. He was out with I think maybe he said a niece, and just saw someone he felt should have a diamond pin. He gave it to her and left.
Seeing the girl’s reaction, his niece later approached her and found out that the girl’s mother had died recently. Her mother had always delighted in finding dimes and thought them gifts from heaven. The little gift made a big difference and with the pin attached to the dime, she could even wear it and its significance would linger.
I look forward to the next time I sit next to Gordon and hear his stories and receive his little gifts with big significance.
And I hope he knows he’s right there on the top of my “people-I’m-glad-I’ve-met-whose-acquaintance-I-will-always-treasure” list.