General Vandegrift was a feisty old man who at one time could demand as much respect as his Army counterpart and close friend General Eisenhower, They had been boyhood buddies and had decided their roles in history long before anyone even knew their names. When I met him however he was bedridden and blind and couldn’t even get someone to boil him a three-minute egg in the morning. He had refused to eat for several mornings because none of the Corpsmen on Tower Ten could fix his eggs and toast the way he liked them.  My friend Mary, who was working at Tower Ten, knew that I had done previous work with geriatric patients in civilian life, so she came to ask me if I would give it a try.
“Good Morning Sir! I said as I entered his room, “How are we doing this morning?”
“I don’t know about you, but I am damn hungry!” he barked.
“And how could I solve that for you, Sir!”
“You can fix me two, three-minute, hard-boiled eggs. Not two and a half minutes or three and a half minutes, but THREE minutes! Do you understand that?”
“Yes Sir, I think I can do that for you,” I said politely.
“Well if you can, you will be the first one in this damn hospital that understands anything at all!” he snapped.
“And how would you like your toast, Sir?”
“TOASTED!” he said, almost jokingly, “not some piece of bread that is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.”
“No problem, Sir. I will be back in a minute… well make that three minutes, Sir.” I said, jokingly as I left the room, though I doubted my words were even heard.
I prepared the food exactly as he had requested and returned to his room with the tray about ten minutes later.
“I thought you said three minutes!” he barked as I entered the room. “A man could die of starvation around here.”
“Sorry, Sir. It took me a bit longer than I thought.”
“Now that smells like toast,” he said, as I put the tray down in front of him.
“Would you like me to help you with eating, Sir?” I asked politely.
“NO! I don’t want you to help me,” he responded, “but since I can’t see a damn thing I may need some assistance.”
“No problem, Sir,” I said, as I pulled a chair up to the bed.
“What time is it?”
“It’s five minutes to Eight, Sir.
“Turn on the television, I want to listen to the morning News.” he requested, almost politely.
I did as he asked and began to feed him his breakfast. There were no complaints as he quietly chewed his food. When he was finished eating I asked if he wanted anything else.
“No, that will be all,” he responded, contentedly.
“Then I will be leaving you now, Sir,” I said, as I put the chair back in its place by the wall.
“And tomorrow? You will be here in the morning again?”
“If you like, Sir, I can be here.”
“Yes, please do come again,” he responded.
I did return for several more days, always preparing the same meal for him, which he ate while we watched the morning news. He didn’t talk much but he did develop a better attitude toward everyone and that was worth the effort.
On the 28th of March 1969, I turned on the TV and heard just the end of a Special Report. “We repeat, President Ike Eisenhower died this morning at Walter Reed Hospital, stay tuned for the story on the Morning News.”
Tears were coming down from the General’s sightless eyes as I turned to feed him his breakfast, “Is something wrong, Sir?” I inquired, sympathetically.
“We never talked about this,” he said, thoughtfully.
“Excuse me, Sir? Talked about what?”
“The ending, we never talked about how it would end.”
“I am not following you, Sir,” I said, as I handed him his toast.
He slowly lowered the toast to the table and wiped the tears from his eyes. “Ike and I talked about everything,” he said slowly, “we grew up together, made plans for our lives, our careers together.  We were good friends, but we never talked about dying.”
For the next several minutes I sat and listened to the General tell his story. It was a Historical Event, witnessed by only me. The ending of an Era being broadcast on television with live comments coming from one of President Eisenhower’s closest friends, lying in a hospital bed just an arm’s length away from my chair.

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