The following is written by a fellow 85th pilot in March of 2006…… Forrest Fenn. Forrest was a good friend then and now and a rare individual who has excelled in the military… A true fighter pilot in every sense of the word, and is renowned in the art and literary worlds. His web site tells that more eloquently than I can. Visit:
  www.oldsantafetradingco.com  

If I may editorialize a bit… It is rare when an individual allows a glimpse into their inner soul. Forrest does that in his article. I have read it several times and regret that I am unable to express myself as well. Do not stop… read the entire article. Then you will reflect on your own life’s experiences in a way you may never have. It has deeply affected me…
Thanks
to my old friend,  Forrest Fenn

*******************  

“These emotions are not so much what I am writing but what I am thinking, and all of it through the weakness of my words.”

                                    MY WAR FOR ME

When the Vietnam War came along, I found myself a fighter pilot Major in the Air Force. All of the frailties of humankind had manifested themselves in that beautiful place and that terrible situation. Lyndon Johnson had summed it up under the heading of  “Saving South Vietnam and all of Southeast Asia from Communist aggression.”  I bought into that pretty good. All the pilots did. The endless hours of classroom training and sorties flown on the gunnery ranges around the world had bred us to it. It was almost umbilical. How faint it seems to me now, and how dreadful it must still be for so many others.

After all of the bullets and rockets and bombs had finished flying through the trees and across the skies, there was nothing left for us but the memory of 58,266 Americans whose names have been etched, chronologically by time of death, on that shiny black war memorial, which is constantly being washed clean by the tears of a million visitors. In another generation or so most of those names will be but an asterisk in the history of a forgotten war; a curiosity to wonder about, like the Lincoln Memorial. How unfortunate it is that world leaders are constantly bringing war and death to those of us who are relegated to follow their dictates.

The afterthoughts of later elected-officials will all ask the same question and give the same answer: “Why?” and “Never again.” Of course they don’t know why, and there will always be another again.

I didn’t pay much of a price in Vietnam , and I feel a little guilty for that. Perhaps I was spared to tell a tranquil story that unfolded upon me without a scar or even a bad dream, but has provided such a profundity of emotions that still dwell deep and resonate inside of me. I am coming to that. 

Many professional soldiers who have been in the throes of life or death experiences may be forever branded by an incident, although it may have lasted only a minute or two. Later, in one’s reverie, those memories can come sparking back when ignited by something innocently said, or something thought. If you see a warrior staring off, quietly move away.

So it is with me now, as I sit here past midnight , alone with only myself to know. I remember how it was at Tuy Hoa on the South China Sea in South Vietnam . Everyone was nervous on their first mission into dangerous air, and I was no exception. But this was somehow different. I had flown 326 combat missions and had been shot down once already. This mission was scheduled to be my last because my year was almost up. The “freedom plane” was to take me home in just four days, on the 24th of December, 1968 . 

Some weeks earlier our F-100 single-seat fighters had flown eight ship sorties into North Vietnam where the dangerous air lived in great abundance. I could feel it beaconing me to come and see, and I embraced the thought.

Air Force F-105 fighters from Korat, Udorn and Ubon , Thailand had flown hundreds of missions in the north, and those pilots were all heroes to me. The F-100 Misty FACS flying out of Phu Cat , South Vietnam , were just as brave and the Hanoi Hilton was full of them.

My great friend, Bob Lynch spent seven years confined, five of them in solitaire confinement, only to be released and return home to die of cancer. I cried when I saw him limp down the steps of his freedom plane and across the tarmac to kiss the pavement. This experience was so distant from the many afternoons we had laughed around the golf course at Scott Air Force Base.

Our Operations Officer was relaxed and cavalier in his briefing: “Don’t worry about the friendlies; there aren’t any up there,” “Pick targets of opportunity on the way back if you have Mic-Mic (bullets) left, but don’t make a second pass,” “Keep your airspeed up,” “If you get in trouble, go for the water squawking Mayday,” “You guys are seasoned in the soil and I’m not worried.” Yeah, right, he wasn’t going.

With a hand signal to my wingman, we slowly moved our throttles forward to the stop and we held the brakes hard. A quick scan of the twenty-four gages on the instrument panel said my ship was willing and ready, so with a head nod, we rolled in tight formation. After three more seconds and another nod, we each moved our throttles outboard to the latch. Then, with only a second’s pause, the fun started as 16,000 pounds of thrust and fire exploded from our tailpipes through silver-plated titanium eyelids that quickly moved in and out, then settled on an optimum temperature that gave maximum power.  At lift-off the predictable whisper of the afterburner was soothing and reassuring, and we soon outran the sound. My F-100C was so solid and strong that being afraid wasn’t easy.

But with four 750 pound bombs, 600 rounds of 20mm, high-explosive incendiary bullets (mic mic), and 550 gallons of fuel in two high-drag external tanks, we weren’t exactly charging the sky. The climb out was smooth as usual, and the jungle through my windscreen was a deep green and covered with 300’ high trees that seemed less and less important as we clawed for altitude. 

To the right was the beautiful South China Sea that I had known for many months. The green was different from the color of the trees, but just as beautiful. In a way that I can’t explain, the sea seemed somehow foreboding and sinister to me; at times, diabolical. Maybe it was because I knew the history of that water; that it had diluted the blood of so many sailors that had dared to test its beauty; its treachery.

At about 4,000 feet, I jiggled my rudder peddles, signaling my wingman to move out so he could relax and we could better keep the watch. Suddenly, something wonderfully innocent occurred. A small clearing appeared at eleven o’clock on my canopy and slowly worked its way under my left wing to disappear behind. It was odd because a small waterfall in the center of the clearing dropped water so far that it turned to mist before it could spread on the rocks below. It must have been 200 feet or more. Large birds were circling around as if they also thought it was an amazing sight. How peaceful it all seemed.

I remember smiling and telling myself, in an idle whim, “If I get back from this mission, I’m going down there.” It was a silly thing and I knew it, but the seriousness of what lay ahead that day somehow turned the whim into a vow; a pledge of sorts. I felt I’d made a deal with that beautiful place. “You bring me back, and I’ll come down there and personally thank you.” The deal was struck. I trusted it, and it could trust me. It was our secret alone.

All of our planes returned from that mission, and we kept going back. On each successive climb-out, before my clearing could disappear beneath my wing, I winked and renewed the vow. And I kept returning.

On one mission in North Vietnam, after dropping bombs and turning for home, I let down to 1,000 feet looking for targets of opportunity; maybe army trucks or a munitions storage area. My wingman was 1,000 feet on my right and back at thirty degrees. At twelve miles a minute the geography was changing fast and my brain was thinking and planning minutes ahead.

Suddenly, on the left there appeared a large group of people bunched up, maybe even a thousand or more. I wasn’t ready for what was about to happen. Although my guns were hot, I knew I wasn’t going to shoot because I had to first determine if it was a legitimate target. If it was, I couldn’t come back around for a strafing pass. It was too dangerous. What I could do, though, was call the guys behind me and give them the coordinates.

So with an alert to my wingman, we turned in and started down to 500’ and lit the afterburners. When I got to the edge of the crowd, I rolled on my left wing to get a good look.

It was a funeral!!!

We were traveling so fast no one had heard us coming, and when I rolled my wing down I could see nothing but panic and yelling and screaming and stampeding and terrible fear. It was horrible. Women running with babies in their arms; children fleeing in every direction with their arms up as if they were surrendering. One old, bearded man with two walking sticks just looked at me as if he was resolved to meet his fate.

I was so ashamed I started crying in my oxygen mask. Sobbing. I could hardly see through the dark visor on my helmet, and my salty tears burned my eyes in a way I had not known for a long time. Suddenly, I hated Lyndon Johnson, and Robert McNamara, and all of the other politicians who were sitting in their fat offices at home, totally oblivious to what war is really like.    

On the first of November, 1968 all flying in the north stopped and we started bombing in South Vietnam again and Laos , which was also dangerous air. President Johnson, who was now maneuvering for peace, was telling everyone at home that we weren’t bombing the Ho Chi Mihn Trail in Laos , but no one told us we weren’t.

About six-weeks later, on the 20th of December, three wingmen and I took off for a serious target at Tchepone, Laos (Chapone to us). Both the Air Force and the Navy had lost a number of planes on that target in the previous days, and the intelligence officer who briefed us on the mission didn’t tell any jokes as he usually did.

After takeoff we rendezvoused with a KC-135 tanker, topped off our fuel tanks, and headed for the target.

Each of our four F-100s was loaded with different ordinance. My plane carried 4 CBU-34, which the Defense Department designated as “Aerial Denial Bomblets.” We were going to mine the main road on the Ho Chi Mihn Trail. The plan called for me to go in first while my wingmen held high. I was to drop bomblets on each of two passes.

It was 1755 ( 5:55 PM ) when I ejected from my crippled F-100 and floated down into a very uncertain environment.

The wet jungle night served a chilling menu of exciting events, the memories of which have both entertained and humbled me over the years since. At first light, I was making notes about what had happened. This is what I wrote while sitting under a forest of 300’ high trees that were covered with white orchids as far up as I could see.

“Made first pass 250º into the sun, 200’, 585 knots airspeed, trying to surprise. Probably got hit on that pass. At the end of the run I whifferdilled up and to the right and back out of the sun hoping to blind the guns I knew were there. Expended inboard CBU-34. Near the end of the pass I got hit by probably 10 ZPU (50 caliber machine guns tied together and firing with one trigger) shooting from the side of a hill about 2,000’ on the left and level with me. Hits in nose, both drop tanks, canopy shot off plus some in aft section because I got immediate compressor stalls and the oil pressure started down. I pulled up abruptly, heated the guns (turned the switches on all four guns) and marked the target with about 200 rounds of 20mm. Then headed 030º for bailout and instructed wingmen to hit, with all ordinance, the guys that had hit me.” 

My engine had flamed out, but I still had enough airspeed to get about thirty miles away from the target and into a peaceful looking part of the jungle. I had all night to inventory my lot.

Initially I had felt myself going into shock; clammy, hot, nervous. I remembered what they taught in “ Snake School ” in the Philippines . “One hundred percent of those shot down will go into shock and it can kill you. Lie down, elevate your feet to get blood to your head; think tranquil thoughts.” So I thought about being with my father on the Lampasas River in Texas with a bobber in the water, catching five-inch blue gills. It started to work and then I remembered the clearing. It was stupid, but it was strangely tranquilizing. In thirty minutes I had recovered and felt strong and confident. And I laughed at myself for being so human.

The next morning, at 0755, Lt. James Swisher, the forward air controller who had directed my flight the night before, came looking for me. (From seven miles away he had been the first to call me burning). With the help of my little radio, we were united, and he told me to hang tough, that he would be back, and he left. Well, I remember thinking I’d just as soon he would hang around for a while. But he had work to do and within a few minutes the sky was full of American war planes, all with intentions of things that were in my best interest. I really love those guys.

While the “ Sandy ” propeller driven fighters strafed the jungle all around to keep the enemy heads down, two Jolly Green Giant helicopters arrived. My rescue was being coordinated by a Crown C-130 aircraft circling at 15,000’. The pick-up chopper would come in low while the stand-by waited high in case it was needed.

The 240’ cable ride up, on a big, iron, jungle penetrator, through a tangle of breaking limbs, leaves, and tree trunks, took my breath away. When I reached the hovering helicopter the Flight Engineer, M/Sgt. Maples, grabbed the hoist and swung me in the door, yelling, “Quick, get in the back and sit on a flack vest.” Boy, did I do that in a hurry.

As the helicopter sped up and away I started taking inventory. Both my face and head were bleeding in a few places but nothing serious. My left shoulder ached and my arms and legs, although bruised, were intact. My pistol and Minox camera had been yanked from my body but my folding hat was still in my G-suit pocket. Everything considered, it was a great ride.

An hour later we landed at Nakhon Phonom , Thailand , where we were greeted by a couple of generals and a camera crew. I was the 1500th air crew to be rescued by the Air Rescue Service in Southeast Asia . It was a noteworthy milestone for them and a humbling honor for me.

The next day, while climbing out in a C-130, the pilot asked me if I wanted to talk with my wife. So with patches through Saigon , Guam , and Barry Goldwater in Scottsdale , to Lubbock , Texas , Peggy and I spoke and said foolish things while everyone listened. She had received a telegram saying I had been shot down and “no parachute had been seen.”

When we landed at my home base at Tuy Hoa, I told my boss that I didn’t want to be shot down on my last mission and begged for one more. A four-star general in Saigon gave his blessings saying “but keep him in South Vietnam .”

After that mission, it was time to pay my debt to the waterfall and the magic clearing to which I felt so obligated. After a combination of pleas, intimidation and a little rank pulling, a helicopter-flying friend agreed to take me out. It was about an hour’s flight to where the little stream dropped so mistfully onto the rocks below.

When we landed, the geography looked much different from what I expected and from what I had seen from a mile up. The small clearing was now about 300 feet across, and belly-high grass made walking difficult. It was impersonal and disappointing. I was embarrassed and felt foolish for making such a big deal out of something that now seemed whimsical. Besides, this was enemy country, and although it seemed remote, we didn’t know who might be nearby. Helicopters make a lot of noise so we agreed to stay only five minutes.

After sitting on the edge of the waterfall and throwing rocks over the drop, the pilot said, “Let’s go.” The sound of the rushing water was stronger than the noise of the idling engine and I was a little uncomfortable with the whole episode.

As we rose and started walking in the tall grass toward the helicopter, a strange chain of events began to unfold. I tripped over something and fell flat on my face. That never happens to me. Then, when I started to push myself up, I came nose-to nose with a rude aluminum grave marker. How strange and out of place it seemed.

I could barely read the dirty nameplate, but did make out the name of a French soldier. Then suddenly we saw more grave markers. The more we looked, the more we found. These soldiers had evidently been killed during the French Indochina war in 1947. But I had tripped over a crudely made stone grave marker that had fallen face down in the grass. Before I could roll it over to see what it said, the pilot was strapping in. I had to hurry. A French name and rank, followed by arcing English words across the top:

“IF YOU SHOULD EVER THINK OF ME
WHEN I HAVE PASSED THIS VALE,
AND WISH TO PLEASE MY GHOST,
FORGIVE A SINNER
AND SMILE AT A HOMELY GIRL
 

Those words burned in my brain and I can see them just as clearly now as I did then, when I was so rushed. I took care to replace the stone marker as it had fallen, and smooth the grass to hide it over. The promise that place had made to me had been kept, and mine to it, as well.

How innocent and foolish all of that seemed at the time, and more so, that a strangely insidious something began to gnaw on me. This could not be the end of it. There was no feeling of closure at all; no sense of completeness. It was disappointing.

Is it fair that now no one recalls where those brave French soldiers fell and are now interred in that remote jungle clearing, hidden from life for a million sunsets? After a violent ending, they had been swallowed up in a serenely beautiful place, and at the same time, hidden by the ravages of time and nature. Those who fell there, in that hateful, wasteful, losing war, (like the one in which I was involved) are forever forgotten, save by me. It has been fifty-eight years since that war, and no one cries anymore. That thought is deeply personal and indelible in me even now, thirty-six years after I was there.

My experience beside the waterfall was on December the 22, 1968. Two nights later I walked in my front door in Lubbock to be greeted by my lovely wife and two beautiful daughters. It was Christmas Eve.

For the next month, while I was on leave, the flourish of activities related to homecoming and reuniting with family and friends put my jungle thoughts on hold, except for occasional flashes that insinuated something unfinished. I didn’t know enough about what had happened to even speak of it; much less understand what I was feeling and what it could possibly mean, if anything. It took weeks to digest as thoughts slowly started to seep back. What was this all about? Was it nothing?

It was all a foreign blur in my mind, like a dream that kept floating in and out. Before the war started, I didn’t even know where Vietnam was, or even Southeast Asia for that matter. It was so unlikely that I would be a fighter pilot and fly to that place. Why did the strange clearing mean so much to me? Why did I survive 328 combat missions but be shot down twice? Was it only to be drawn to that place? What kind of fool would take a defenseless helicopter to that waterfall? It was more than strange that I would fall to the ground and read such a poignant inscription. And why did the words impact me so? I had a lot to think about.

As the months passed and I got back into the swing of Air Force life, which by then involved teaching other men to fly, my thoughts naturally started to analyze the things that had hitherto been but a blur of incoherent incidents.

Finish telling the story Forrest; get to the punch line that has been hidden under your heart for so long.

Then, one day in 1969, as I was looking through my Flight Log, my eyes fixed on an entry that had little explanation but an asterisk. But I knew! I remembered every detail of that flight and why I had marked it such.

That flight had been many years before-thirteen to be exact-on the 13th of July, 1956 . I was taking an old T-33 jet trainer from Stevenville , Newfoundland to Pope Field , North Carolina . A party at the Officer’s Club had detained me longer than I wanted, and although I was not a drinker, my body was already tired.

At about 0030 I lifted off for a long, dark flight that would take me down the breadth of the Eastern Seaboard, across a blur of lights that never slept; Boston, Providence, Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Norfolk, and on. Because of the great distance involved, it was necessary to climb as high as possible to save fuel-49,000 feet. (Blood will boil in the human body if pressurization is lost at 50,000 feet unless the pilot is wearing a pressure suit.)

I knew I was pushing it and the plane’s oxygen system was antiquated. But the rules of flight were not unknown to me, and I was a careful pilot. On the left side of the forward panel, near the bottom, was a blinker. When I inhaled, the gage winked, meaning I was getting oxygen through my mask. With a cockpit pressure altitude of 38,000 feet, I needed all I could get. The last thing the crew chief did after he pulled the chocks for taxi was to cup his nose with one hand and give me a thumbs-up with the other. That meant “Check the blink and good luck.” So I checked the blink every few seconds of the flight.

After a long climb to level off and cruise, I felt myself trying to go to sleep. Flying the plane at that altitude was hard enough without that kind of problem. I remember the air was quiet, even over the large populated areas. No one was around; no one was on the radio, no one to talk to. The impersonal lights were there, but I was all alone.

In order to stay awake I started playing stupid games like moving my helmet from left to right then back and lightly tapping the canopy on both sides. That helped, but it was distracting and I didn’t want to break anything. Finally I started moving my left hand in and out, looking at my glove as if I had not seen it before. Then, and for no reason at all, I closed my fist, stuck my thumb out, and moved it close to my face, an inch away from my left eye.  

My God!!!! I had completely covered up Philadelphia . I had covered up millions of people with my thumb. The thought occurred to me that I was getting hypoxic, so I removed my glove, grabbed my flashlight and looked at my fingernails. They looked normal. If I was lacking oxygen, they would have been purple. The blinker was winking at me.

Well, I suddenly wished I had taken a drink back at the club. The up side was that I didn’t have trouble staying awake after that. The down side, though; I had covered a few million people with my thumb and it took me to another dimension in my mind, a place where I would not visit again until the grave marker entered into my life. Years later I would meld these thoughts into one, the sum of which would change my life. I am coming to that.

That innocuous incident made me wonder how important one average individual could be in the whole scope of life. We all live in the small cocoon of our own surroundings and a few friends and places. We are victims of our tiny environments. We stop when the light is red and pay the gas bill when it is due. Strangers move in and out of our lives, only to punctuate the moment with something useful, like a waiter or the paper boy. The human mind somehow wonderfully conjects that the body in which it resides is important. It is constantly judging others and identifying faults without relating them to itself. In many ways we are but sheep following the dictates of other minds, many of which are not as fruitful as our own. So is there a deeper meaning to it all? Can we pour all of the non-physical thoughts and happenings into one cohesive boiling pot that will give us something useful? Maybe some subliminal gene can be the answer to all that we cannot see but know is there?

Later I laughed at myself and certainly wasn’t going to tell anyone about the Philadelphia Caper. The Flight Surgeon would ground me sure as hell. But I would remember the feeling it brought and it would later tie into others that would be equally as humbling.

My personal contribution to the Vietnam War was of dubious distinction. I had been shot down once in the south of that country and once again in Laos . My reward for all of that was about a thousand dollars a month in pay, a Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, sixteen Air Medals and a Purple Heart. And then, as I was boarding the plane that brought me home, two South Vietnamese pilots came running up and handed me a small box, saying “We want you to have this.” It was the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, their country’s highest medal. Although it was not officially presented, I still value it and the appreciation that came with it. Never mind how important those things were to me at the time, they later added up to a big empty. Was there nothing better to show for that year away from my family and risking my life every day? Maybe so!

Instead of having received all of those medals I wish I could have been given a college degree in Survival or at least an honorable mention for just having lasted it out. Or maybe, when it comes my turn to die, somehow that year could be rebated and tacked on to let me last a little longer. The sense of pride that I felt while serving in that war has since seeped out of me. But I am still alive. What about those whose bones are rotting under the headstones of a thousand wars? Are we forever destined to the same old bloody waste, forever, over and over? Surely there is more out there. But where? Looking back now, I feel like I was being slowly educated by a larger hand, one that I could not then identify.

So let’s sum it up. I have already said that the whole Vietnam thing was unlikely as far as my participation was concerned. The Philadelphia saga is of no consequence except for the underlining mystic implications that took me years to sort out. Both incidents are important only to me, but they have produced something I cherish but feel inadequate to explain. But I will try.

It is more than sad to me, not just that the French soldiers are dead and buried, but because no one knows where they are or even who they were. No one is crying now that a half a century has passed. The ground knows and the tall grass knows, but they won’t tell. And what of the soldier’s wives and children? Have they gone on to live with a hundred forgotten memories? Sure they have.

So, in my mind the lines have converged to tell a story that satisfies me in my heart, where only there it really counts. I justify expressing my thoughts here because they have been pounding at me for so long. I certainly can’t identify all of the strings as they spin the web that forms the latent beliefs that brought me here, but these are some:

I borrow now from Omar Khayyam, who died in the first quarter of the twelfth century. His words are some of those that tell the insidious stories the best, stories that have made me think:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all your tears wash out a word of it.

Alike for those who for To-day prepare,
And those that after some To-MORROW stare,
A Muezzin from the
Tower of Darkness cries,
“Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There.

There was the Door to which I found no Key;
There was the Veil through which I may not see:
Some little talk a while of Me and Thee
There was – and then no more of Thee and Me.

Strange, is it not? That of the myriads who
Before us pass’d the Door of Darkness through.
Not one returns to tell us of the Road,
Which to discover we must travel too.
                   ********

I love that thought because it says so much to me.

And there are those who have said the same thing perhaps less eloquently, but just as true, such as Andy Warhol, who certainly had his fifteen minutes.

And Shakespeare’s As You Like It, "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their entrances and their exits, and one man in his time plays many parts".

OK, just name one player or even one part, about which you speak. The name may be remembered if it is written, but what of the person? No, they have all faded like the smell of a dying daffodil. And as soon as it departs, again and again, another takes its place, only for the same episode to befall.

Did Shakespeare really say, in other words, that most of us come into this world for a little while, are blessed perhaps, then depart and are soon forgotten by history? Of course he did!

Longfellow, who was born almost 200 years ago, bent my thought around a little when he wrote. “Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, and departing, leave behind us, footprints in the sands of time.”

But what about those of us who are not great men? Are we not somehow entitled to leave a slight footprint or at least a small impression… somewhere? Did Lee Harvey Oswald thirst so for a remembrance that nothing else mattered? Or John Wilkes Booth? YES!

All of them, and a multitude of others, have conveyed the same meanings in vastly different words and at vastly different times and places. But they all really said the same thing: “Look at me, I’m somebody; please don’t forget.”

So of course we forgot. The fun side is that it really doesn’t matter who we are if we are someone to ourselves. No one else can think my thoughts, so I am myself only to me. Does that make sense? So to be important only I need to impress myself. And I can do that if others are positively affected by what they see in me or see me do. Well…………….

Why do the yellow and purple flowers flourish where no one is there to see? The answer is at last obvious to me. No one has to see what is there. The grass sees and the trees and rushing waters of the spring creek also see. What has made me think that I had to see the beauty that is there in order to confirm its existence?

We are all here only for the pleasure of others, everything living; only for the pleasure of others. Of course, that’s it! That’s why the stone marker said “and smile at a homely girl.” It had to be pounded into me! That’s why so large a Philadelphia was reduced to a thumbnail, to show me that each one is as important as the all. Me no less than any of them, or more than they. That we are all but temporary statements, like a cut bouquet on the living room table, to make brief statements in passing and maybe cause a smile, then go to make room for others who will play their part seems obvious to me now. Thank you Mr. Shakespeare.

So, when this realization hit me frontal, at last I knew. If I cannot enrich those with whom I interact each day and cause them to be better for my having passed their view, then I have wasted my turn. That I succeed in that endeavor is not as important as it is for me to make a solid try. For if the try is sincere I have succeeded in whatever failure resulted.

Kiss her on the cheek and whisper something from which she will make a later note in her heart of keepsakes.

Open the door for her, not to make her way easier but just to say you care.

Be there when she arrives to let her know your time with her is important.

If her baby is ugly say she’s sweet. When she cries tell that it is important to have emotions. And when she’s sick send her a well bug. Bubble gum will do.

It is important to touch; the hand of a woman; the shoulder of a man. But touch.

Silence can be well understood if she sees an approving look.

There are others to know and we must search to learn. Spontaneity counts.

So!

And now at last at least for me I know. And if no one should ever think of me when I have passed this vale, it will be of no matter for I have finally found my way, and am at peace with all of it.    

Forrest Fenn