Beatriz, a nurse and Vietnam veteran speaks.
There was something about him. Here was this young man, all shot up, and he was looking at me like that. He was a bloody mess, shot in the neck, and in his right shoulder, yet he was very calm. Every time I glanced quickly at him, I saw calmness in his eyes. He was not looking at his wounds or at his surroundings. He was looking at me. If George thought he was going to die, the last image his eyes wanted to see was my face. I knew he was going to survive. I will never forget the way he looked at me, on that first day, when we met. He looked at me like he was trying to capture the essence of me. He didn't care about anything else.
During his hospital stay, a rather long one, there were quite a few fellow soldiers who came to see him. I noticed they kept calling him "Pancho," affectionately. One of them told him "Come on, Pancho, get well, we need you. We need you to get us back to the world, man. We are going to throw you into the sea. We know you are going to start swimming toward Mexico. When we get there, all we have to do is go north, and we are home." George could only smile with his eyes, and shake hands with his left hand, with this jokester, and many others.
I felt a bond with George; both of us were, in a way, cases of mistaken identity. George was not Mexican; he is of Portuguese ancestry. He learned Spanish playing with other kids in his neighborhood. He doesn't speak Portuguese at all. Myself, I don't speak a word of Japanese, My parents do. I speak Spanish because I was born in Cuba, where I spent part of my childhood. So, when it comes to the two of us, on the surface, what others will see will be a Mexican man, and a Japanese woman. They would be looking at us, but they would not be seeing us. Our uniforms showed we were two Americans; without uniforms, we may be seen differently.
What matters is that George and I see each other the way we really are. We understood each other since the first moment we met. We still do.
Well, you asked me how I met my husband. There you have it.