Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Rest of the Story...

The boy's mother...not exactly a soft place to fall, huh?

The boy on his front porch with his dog. Makes my house look like a mansion.

Siblings (he's the one in the middle-between his sisters)

On the island of Bougainville-1944

And so the boy fought for his life. For the life of his country. I don't know that you will ever find patriotism like you will find from this disappearing generation. The generation that lived through the Great Depression. The generation that fought for our freedoms. In a far away land. In jungles.

On the trip overseas the mood was jovial. It was "go get 'em". It was naive and innocent. On the way back however, everyone seemed to be in a stupor. A daze. The quiet was eerie. These men, many of whom should have still been children, had faced death. They had looked it in the face and survived. Most (like the boy in our story) didn't know why they were the ones who made it out alive. Most saw friends die. Right in front of their eyes. Definitely, they saw the enemy die. And they were supposed to be happy, right? It was war, if the bad guy was dead then that was a victory on some level, right?

In this daze, they came back home. Sick. Gaunt. Not knowing what to expect. How were they to meld back into civilian life when they'd been to war and back? Life went on. Girlfriends married other men. Family lived and died. Without them. What do you say when you show up back at home? The music was different. The clothing was different. Everything was just...different.

The boy-although we shouldn't call him that now-came home not knowing what to expect. It was evening and his mother had gone to bed. His father was talking to one of his brothers, not even acknowledging his presence. He was back. Maybe things hadn't changed. Still no affirmation, no 'atta boy. Thanks for all the money home, thanks for risking everything for our country, our freedoms. No great big hug to envelop him. Welcome home signs. None of it. But I don't think he was surprised. And that to me is the saddest thing. The saddest moment. Maybe I feel it so deeply because of who this man is to me. Maybe I feel it so strongly because of all he has given to me. OR maybe, I am looking at it purely from an outsider's point of view and it is just plain the saddest thing I've ever heard.

That boy turned man? He is my grandpa. He's the best man I know. I will be forever grateful to the part he played in my life growing up. He loved me (and his kids) unconditionally. He hugged us. He told us we were smart, beautiful, admirable. He gave all he had never been given. He taught me to love God, to love my country and respect the flag and the foundations. The blood, sweat and tears that made our nation. He woke me up (when we lived with him at times) singing. He played the SILLIEST games with me. Games that meanT the world to me. Memories that make my childhood seem idyllic. Is he perfect? No. He'd be the first to tell you that. But I'll tell you, his hugs are like coming home. And those parents that never hugged or held him? They missed out on something grand!

ETA: I have been saving this, again hoping to get ahold of a scanner to do better pictures. The ones I took (at the top) do not give justice to what I have in my hands...but it's the best I can do.

1 comment:

squirrelgirl said...

Wow, that IS sad. To not have love and affirmation from your own family... particularly your parents. I can't even fathom it. I'm so glad he didn't let it color his relationships with his children and grandchildren. Talk about "overcoming".

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