This is one of the first stories I ever wrote, and it is MY story…
He was an old knight. Maybe not in years, but in experience and battles fought. His once-shiny armor was but a mere shadow of its original self. Where once it gleamed in the sun, it was now battered, corroded and even rusty in spots. The once-supple joints now largely frozen in position from all the abuse. He carried a mighty sword which used to dazzle the eyes and strike fear in his enemies. It was now pitted, dinged, and a poor image of its former glory. In his day, he rode a proud stallion into battle, which he mounted with a single stride. These days his mount is a discarded stick horse…the laughing stock of the battlefield, a child’s toy, not the proud steed of a stately knight. Even the plume on his helmet has seen better days without a fresh one to replace it, but indeed it all matches. Where he once led the charge, he can’t possibly even keep up now. Few of the younger knights even bother to seek him out for his wisdom and council.
How did his armor get to be in such sad state of repair? Why had he lost his place on the battlefield of life? This knight had lived hard, fought many battles, while loving and raising a family. His loyalty was without question. His defense of those he loved had no peer. After he had lost his first love, there were some pretenders, but that’s all they were was pretenders. Their interest was in what buttered their own bread, not in the old knight. He was merely used and discarded when his usefulness to them was done. They had no interest in putting a bit of oil on the old joints or polishing that tarnished metal. As a result, the metal just got duller and duller, the joints ever more rusty. Sure he tried to put on a brave front, but he knew he was a has-been. His armor was not only rusted from the outside in, but also from the inside out. Many a tear had been shed which no one ever saw. They were concealed behind the mask of his armor. You see…knights don’t cry…knights don’t hurt…knights are supposed to be super-human, but they are just men…men on a mission of caring for the ones they love. Their pain is private…they go through their own private hell, and few would understand if they tried to explain it to them. Most would not even care. They would be told to “suck it up”, or “get a life”, “you’re a man”, “be tough”, or some other similar uncaring thing, so they keep it to themselves. Their pain is between themselves and their God, but it is real pain none-the-less.
What happened to his sprightly step? Where has his bounce gone? Many years of giving and rarely receiving…many years of his tank constantly being drained have largely taken that spring out of his step. That 105 octane racing fuel that once fueled a well-tuned machine was now replaced by Mogas, or even worse, Pemex…stuff that would barely fuel a rust bucket, and certainly not a high-strung sports car. He has been on the giving end physically and emotionally for so many years, he might not even recognize some love and attention even if it was directed his way in sincerity. He has fought a good fight, but younger warriors now take his place in the line of battle. His edge is gone…theirs is still fresh, and besides, what was valued in his day doesn’t matter anymore. Those with money, prestige and power are sought after, not those who have fought the good fight. The glamour, the glitz…movie stars…pretty boys…they are what everyone wants these days, not some tired old warrior from days gone by. Like many before him, he has been discarded into the trash heap of life.
What had become of his trusty steed? That stallion grew old, had seen many battles like his master, and had been retired, put out to pasture to finish out his life. By now, he had long ago been turned into food for the dogs and fertilizer to help feed the next generation. Like his master, he was expendable, but not replaceable.
Where is he going with his battered armor, dull sword, and stick-horse steed? To battle once again, in hopes that some fair damsel, who perhaps is no longer a Cinderella herself, will take notice of him, and perhaps allow him to once again do battle for her honor. Of course he has competition…younger knights with shiny armor, impressive swords and flashy steeds. Some ladies will go for them, not realizing that they are chasing an unproven warrior. That shiny armor hasn’t yet seen the test of battle, and the one wearing it has yet to prove his metal. He has the flash without the substance… Our old knight is a proven warrior and his character is rock-solid, his loyalty, matchless, and his love is deep and enduring.
Who will that special lady be? The story isn’t finished, but what is known, is that she will be a lady of substance, a woman of genuine character, a lady who knows quality when she sees it. She will be one who knows how to love to the end, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, til death do them part. She will have seen her fair share of battlefields as well, having conquered every challenge that has come her way. Who will she be? Only God knows for sure…but the knight is on the battlefield to find her. God willing, he will prevail.
What will become of this once-mighty knight? Will he even be remembered? If the Lord tarries, AND he wins on that battlefield, he may have someone to love and cherish him in his old age. If not, his tent will likely be pitched with all the other discarded warriors to pass his final days in oblivion. With no one to survive him that even cares that he lived, let alone died, his legacy of a lifetime of giving to his God, his country, his family and his fellow man will largely be forgotten. He sought no fame or personal gain. His name was never on the front page of a magazine or newspaper. He was never announced in marquis lights. He will be survived by a few faded certificates, some old photographs and a few dusty plaques that have been put away in storage for many years. A few old friends may remember…if they are still alive, but that will be the extent of his memory. There may not even be someone to claim his body, let alone give him a dignified sendoff. He will return to the dust from which he was taken…an old knight. “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away…”