039. The Burden

A soldier who fought in Vietnam was finally coming home. He called his parents from San Francisco.

"Mom and Dad, I’m coming home, but I’ve a favor to ask. I have a friend I’d like to bring home with me."

"Sure," they replied, "we’d love to meet him."

"There’s something you should know," the son continued, "he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us."

"I’m sorry to hear that, son.  Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live."

"No, Mom and Dad, you don’t understand.  I want him to live with us."

"Son," said the father, "you don’t know what you’re asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can’t let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He’ll find a way to live on his own."

At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide.

The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn’t know, their son had only an arm and a leg.

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