Richard W. Reith

TO THE WOMEN ON THE SIDELINE
(of Rich and Col’s Battle)

For those of you with estrogen
Watching us silly old men
Wrestle in the dust from ditch to ditch -
Just watch this mental game of chess,
Knowing we are quite harmless,
And way too old to settle it on the pitch.

As these two old sets of bones
Marinated in testosterone
Compete to the death in an arena of ideas,
Shake your head and chuckle loud
As we two men with heads unbowed
Engage in battle without getting off our rears….

Author’s Note: I was bitter like Col. He has no idea of what I grew up in, but I was bitter too, until I faced that moment that I knew I was going to die in Vietnam; changed my life. When that happened, there was regret and understanding, and when I made it out I realized how happiness and bitterness, happiness and martyrdom, happiness and sitting waiting for the next slight… were all mutually exclusive.

Either I took the responsibility for my happiness into my own hands, or I would live a life looking at everyone and everything else as the cause of my unhappiness. Look at my journals sometime – I even laughed my way through cancer, determining to not even let IT make me unhappy.

Ten years or so after the incident in Nam, I again faced a moment when I knew I was going to be dead, looking out my driver’s side window watching a truck barrel down on me at over 90 miles an hour. Like with the incident in Nam, there is no possible explanation for why I am alive. But that time was different. I was at peace – wonderful peace.

Rich Reith
February 8, 2006