4 December 2008
It was during my recent recovery from liver cancer surgery
while I was confined to St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange, California,
that I experienced a strange "out of body" transformation.
I don't know how else to explain it, but I felt that I did make
the trip to the Margraten American Military Cemetery in Holland.
It was surreal as could be and is still with me today.
It happened on November 16th when the pain from the incision
was so intense that my IV drip of morphine could not totally
suppress the pain that the nurses provided me with a hand held
pump to increase the medication. I could press the button on
the pump three times before it automatically shut off and would
send me into the arms of Morpheus and darkness. I reluctantly
used the pump, but not being a hero, at times I had to block
out the pain. Then when the darkness took over I always had the
sensation that I was falling into a bottomless black hole where
I could not escape.
It was during one of the black hole departures that I felt while
my pain-racked body lay in the hospital bed that my soul took
flight and I travelled through space drawn by a brilliant sun
lit marble garden in a place called Margraten, Holland. I found
myself standing at the grave of my former commander, Major General
Maurice Rose. I began to render a hand salute to his white cross
when suddenly he appeared. He was dressed in his immaculate uniform
and wore a quizzical look as he studied me standing in front
of him. I addressed him by saying, "Sergeant Marsh reporting
for duty, sir."
After what seemed like a long pause, he said, "No, Sergeant,
you are not reporting for duty here. Once you report for duty
here, you will remain here for eternity. Consider yourself on
a one day pass."
I managed to reply, "yes, sir."
He then startled me by saying, "I understand that you and
this fellow, Steven Ossad, have written my life's story?"
Again, I replied, "Yes, sir."
With a slight frown on his face, he said, "Don't you think
you were somewhat harsh in your criticism of me?"
My unapologetic answer, "No, sir. When you erred in judgment
of others, we told the other half of the story."
That remark brought a slight smile to the corners of his mouth
with his response, "Fair enough. History will right the
wrongs. I am thankful that you found my two sons and included
them in your book. By the way, Sergeant Marsh, I want to thank
your Dutch friend Bianca for visiting me with flowers. Sergeant,
your interview is ended. You realize that you are out of uniform.
You are dismissed. Return home and continue writing."
I stood there and started to salute him when his vision disappeared
and I realized that I was standing at his grave wearing a hospital
gown with my backside totally exposed.
The next thing I knew was that the sunlight was streaming into
my room in the recovery ward and I had visitors my two daughters,
Judy and Donna and my niece Lisa. One of them noticed that I
had opened my eyes and asked how I was feeling. I replied, "I've
been to Margraten and saw The General." This brought a smile
to their faces and one asked, "So how are things in Holland?"
I answered, "In good hands. In good hands."
Publication or reproduction, in part or whole,
is prohibited without written permission from the author, Don
R. Marsh. All rights remain the sole property of The Marsh Family