Good Samaritan


By Suzanne K. Braun

It was the summer of 1967, and Ward 7 South at Great Lakes Naval Hospital was full - not an empty bed in sight. Each bed held a solider whose contribution to the Vietnam war effort could be readily seen - paraplegics, quadriplegics, and head wounds like my brother's.

The hospital had employed several middle age women who would go from ward to ward passing out magazines. This was their contribution to the war effort, for in their hearts, they truly believed that all these soldiers needed was a copy of Time or Life to quell their anguish. I sat by my brother's side in amazement thinking to myself that if I was in that much pain, the last thing I would want to do is read a magazine.

I watched as soldiers politely took the magazines, and then laid them aside. My brother's head wound had caused permanent blindness but to look at him his eyes looked normal. Rather than explaining to every Good Samaritan who stopped at his bedside that he was blind, he would just politely say 'no thank you' to offers of magazines and they would go on their way.

I well remember, however, the one Good Samaritan who would not take 'no' for an answer when she offered my brother a magazine. She was convinced in her own mind that he would feel so much better if only he would read a magazine. The first time she asked my brother if he would like a magazine, he simply said very politely 'no thank you'.

An hour later the Good Samaritan appeared again by my brother's bedside asking if he would like a magazine and again he politely said 'no thank you'. Feeling undaunted by my brother's previous rejections of her kind offers of a magazine, the Good Samaritan appeared for a third time asking him if would like something to read. At this point, my brother having abandoned all sense of politeness, grinned like the Cheshire cat and said to the woman 'OK, do you have a Playboy in Braille?' Uproarious laughter could be heard throughout Ward 7 South.

It took a blind and very sarcastically funny Marine to do what the Good Samaritan could not do.

And this is how I like to remember my brother.

Copyright, all rights reserved; 1994 Suzanne K. Braun