Service, Duty, Friendship: A Message of Thanks
He greeted me at the door, larger than life and eager to welcome me into his world; I was apprehensive, fearful and scared. Up until then our worlds were completely different. Keeping my distance, avoiding eye contact I managed to slip in and out without much contact; besides what would we have to talk about? He was the trainer and I was just an overweight, out of shape food addict attempting to lose a few pounds or at least look like I was trying. He is a drill sergeant in the Army and I could barely stay on the treadmill for thirty minutes without heaving up a lung. He was strong, in shape and healthy and I was none of the above. Yet somehow, little by little he managed to find a way to speak and quietly encourage me with a few words every now and again. “Good to see you” or “Great job today” he would say all the while keeping a safe distance yet somehow getting closer at the same time. “Keep it up” he would call out as I zipped past the office door hoping to go unnoticed. And with the occasional conversation it became apparent that he was not the intimidating unreachable figure that scared me to pieces. He was there to help me. Alfred would become my coach, trainer and friend.
When the opportunity rose for me to begin training with Alfred, I was beyond nervous and apprehensive. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I failed? The what if’s filled me with doubt and insecurity. Right away he calmed my insecurities, creating a workout plan specifically designed for me. As time passed I realized that I was working on more than just my physical body. Somehow he managed to break the barriers I had put up and help me work through the insecurities and fears. Somehow in the midst of the worry, anxiety and fear I began to emerge not only physically stronger but stronger in my mind and spirit as well. Somehow we became friends.
As I sit alone quietly with my thoughts this week my heart is full of mixed emotions. Alfred will return to active military duty this week; a job of honor, dignity and great purpose. In the course of the past eight months I’ve gotten to know Alfred on a more personal level. What I’ve learned is that we are blessed to have him serving our country. A man with a passion for service Alfred puts his whole heart into whatever it is he is doing. Having him share with me stories of his time on deployment in Iraq I have learned that Alfred’s focus, calm demeanor and intense purpose to serve his country, fellow man, family and friends is the very fiber that keeps him going. At times when I thought I couldn’t lift another weight, or go one more round of swinging the kettle bell weight over my head he was right there, gently pushing me to go the distance. Alfred takes time to assist, encourage and teach with patience and passion never rushing through a workout session because our time is up. Our conversations have covered a vast array of topics from sports to zombies and everything in between. With Alfred’s assistance and encouragement, I’ve learned so much, dug deep within my soul to find out who I really am and who I really want to be. He refuses to take credit knowing that the work is mine alone; I remind him that he has helped me stay focused and move forward. Often it is his quiet presence that speaks volumes.
The gym will be different without him there, but my workout sisters and I (and the many others there) will continue on in our journey for health and wellness taking with us the lessons we’ve learned. With promises to be back on some weekends, we know that we are not saying good-bye rather see you soon. Life changes and we are forced to either change with it or stay behind and wallow in the same place day after day. The lessons Alfred has taught will remain with me as I continue to do as I promised; move forward and keep going.
Thank you Alfred Rocha for taking a chance on me and the many others you have helped along the way. You have made a difference in so many people’s lives with your encouragement, kindness and the example you set. The wounded warriors you will now be helping are beyond fortunate to have you on their side. I am reminded of a quote by General George S. Patton who once said “The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country” You are that soldier. Thank you for your service; I am proud to be your friend.
Be safe. Be well. Be blessed. Be back soon….
I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
Check out Karla’s 24 Day Advocare Challenge updates!