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Born With a Broken Heart - Remembrance For a Wounded Warrior

Updated on November 21, 2011
The Rainbow Bridge near Old Colwyn, Conwy in Great Britain. It reminds people of the poem to pets called "The Rainbow Bridge." They cross the bridge and wait for us in Heaven.
The Rainbow Bridge near Old Colwyn, Conwy in Great Britain. It reminds people of the poem to pets called "The Rainbow Bridge." They cross the bridge and wait for us in Heaven. | Source

He was cremated with the

Ashes of his

Twenty-two year-old cat,


From the tiny urn that had sat

Beside his bed for four years.


If she's waiting across the

Rainbow Bridge, she's

Leading cats, squirrels, ducks


A dog worth a "million bucks", all

Of them singing his heart-song.


Recognizing Signs, Saying Words

I wrote the poem offered above for the Memorial Program used at the services for a lonely Vietnam Veteran this past summer. He had already known that I appreciated him for his compassion and good deeds toward people in trouble; and if he had been sitting in the services, embarrassment would have captured him inescapably. This is because he felt more confident and safe when he was angry.

Although this veteran had suffered verbal and physical abuse as a child with a parent, a foster parent and a clergyman, had survived cancer, had been injured behind enemy lines in Vietnam, had suffered substantial areas of second and third degree burns on the job, and survived multiple injuries and surgeries, none of these things killed him. Through much of this, he'd tried to work and to be a present father.

After 35 years of fighting, Robert finally received a designation of full disability with the VA, but lived only a year or two afterward. The autopsy uncovered a significant heart condition that would have precluded the decades of pain medications prescribed for him, if a complete physical exam had ever been done. We could find only partial workups and very little examination of the cardiovascular system.

This man was not everyone's favorite, certainly. He was often angry, but he was often sad and few seemed to know this. He did good things and bad. He had a course set for improving his life and died when he had it in place. Some loved him, some hated him. How many Vietnam Veterans will ever receive the respect due to them, anyway? His depression, often manifesting as pain and anger, foretold heart disease that family and even the medical community did not see. Everyone looked the other way. After the disability determination, some stopped looking at all.

This man was broken-hearted in many ways and I saw it distinctly only a few months before his death, but at least I saw it. It had happened to two other men I knew in the last two years. I had time to say Oh, no and he was gone. At least he was able to enjoy a few years with his grandchildren and they will remember him. His son tells good stories about him.

One of the last things I told him occurred when he played for me an early tape of himself performing as an Elvis Tribute Artist after the star's death. I could not tell that it was NOT Elvis and I told him that. I'm glad I did; it was true.

He was modest about this talent, but becoming increasingly depressed over the years, he quit performing at hospitals for patients. When his first wife died, he stopped singing altogether (they had performed together) and this was sad. I have his recording today and can listen to him any time, but it's not like going to a performance to encourage and appreciate a friend and his wife.

Indian Campfire at Big Rock, oil painting by Cornelius Krieghoff
Indian Campfire at Big Rock, oil painting by Cornelius Krieghoff | Source

Another Friend Soon Lost

I lost two friends in as many months.

Bob and Tom. Both were men that had helped others. One was a Vietnam War Veteran active in his neighborhood community and the other was a Preacher and Bible School Professor. They both died suddenly, one of an undiagnosed heart condition, the second in a motorcycle accident on the way home after a Wednesday night service -- Tom was broadsided by a driver.

My first friend had two services. The second had none - Odd, for a Preacher.

Few attended Bob's memorials for various reasons - poor health, too far, guilt; many friends and family were already gone, anyway. His son's friends all told good stories, though, like Indians telling war tales at the campfire. It was good.

Tom's wife wanted no funeral, no memorial; but the church held it's own and everybody attended. I don't know what to say about him yet, but I have good memories.

All text and poetry © 2011 by Patty Inglish. All rights reserved.

Robert's Favorite - Tears In Heaven


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thank you, flora - what you say is lovely. The opening 5 notes of Tears In Heaven make me choke up, even without the words.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      9 years ago

      Beautiful poem, Patty. I'm sorry you lost several people in a short period.

      Re: Tears in Heaven:

      That song was released when I was in grade 12. I couldn't stand listening to it and would immediately turn it off as soon as it started playing. In life's little ironies, My choir teacher gave the song to our jazz choir to sing. That meant that I had the song ingrained in my memory as I was singing harmony in that number.

      I did not realize that that there was a Rainbow Bridge painted anywhere. I thought there was only the poem. I must be with my cats after I die. It's not really Heaven if I am not.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Cardisa - Thanks, Cardisa. I'm looking for pictures of the cat to add to the first poem.

      Hmrjmr1 - Thank you for your kind words. If I could go back, I would have said and done more, but those soldiers still living will receive the extra attention. Bless you for your service. Thank you for posting!

      Ben Zoltak - I always enjoy your visits and posts. You are right about the two friends I mentioned being cantankerous! I will look forward to more of your cantankerousness in writing. I probably have at least as many enemies as friends, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 

      9 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Beautiful ode to your friends Patty. I feel like they may have been some friends of mine, or at least as cantankerous as I can be at times. Those of us who create as many friends as enemies are grateful that you recognize us, broken hearts lead to great expressions. Thanks for writing about "confidence in anger" I feel truth in those words, and am working to find a more pleasant way to retain that confidence.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you Patty!

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image


      9 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Voted up and beautiful Patty, thanks from an old soldier for your kind attention to a brother in arms. May God Bles your Thanksgiving Day and everyday.

      I think he would have said as I do when folks now thank me for my service, even to the ones who damned me for it before. "You were worth it."

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      9 years ago from Jamaica

      You never cease to amaze me Patty. This is such a beautiful tribute.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thank you both. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Hugs to you, Patty.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Morning Patty.

      Beautiful, touching, and written from the heart and a nice tribute to Robert.


      Take care Patty.

      LOL Ghaelach

    • RedElf profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      I love this song - it is as deeply moving as your tribute to your friends. Thanks so much for sharing their lives with us through your memorial.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      The song is sometimes hard to hear. Thanks, jenubouka.

      Sunnie Day - Thank you for your message! I, too, want them not to be forgotten.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      9 years ago

      Dear Patty,

      Such a touching hub and very heartfelt tribute to Robert, Bob, and Tom..three angels in heaven..May their lives forever be remembered.

      God bless,


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Yes very beautiful Patty, Tear's in Heaven is such a heart wrenching song that always brings a tear. I loved that picture of the bridge.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thank you, habee.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Beautiful and very touching. Voted up.


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