Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Real Hero

I realize next Monday is Memorial day, but in anticipation of that being a holiday and our blog being quiet, I wanted to reminisce a bit.
 
This is how I remember him ... laughter in his eyes and hands that were disabled by MS but always ready to hold out shakily toward me and welcome me on his lap. An affectionate pat on the side of my knee and books. We read a lot of books. He could walk with a cane. It was wooden and curved and shiny, and it had a rubber stopper on the bottom so it wouldn't "clank" on the floor as he walked. He loved to rock in a rocking chair, and he would lick his fingers everytime he turned a thin, worn page in his Bible.

This man introduced me to coffee ... and perhaps started the reign of terror in my household when at three years old I was stoked on caffiene. But he was the Patriarch. My mother could not tell him "no". So we would sit and dunk cinnamon-sugar doughnuts in coffee, and then, once full, would drink our well-sugared black nectar. He would sip his, drawing the coffee in between his lips so it bubbled a little, made a slurpy sound, and cooled off just before it hit his tongue. I tried, but it went up my nose, so I just gulped. I still gulp. Maybe I should learn to be like Grampa and take more time ...

This man saved the world ... though he certainly wouldn't say that. In fact, he'd redirect me Spiritually to Scripture right now if he could - and he would be right. But in his own way, his own uncelebrated way, he did. In January of 1941 he entered the ARMY and had 1 month left before he was discharged when a Japanese plane dropped the first bomb on Pearl Harbor and Grampa was permanently enlisted until September of 1945. He trained hard for African desert warfare and found himself in the frozen war fields of Attu, the tropics of the Marshall Islands, and the horrors of the Philippines. He never did see the desert. I wonder if he minded? He fought in all five major Asiatic battles, earning medals he never received until after his death in 1986. The Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, Asiatic Battle Award, and numerous other smaller medals.

He wrote like a dreamer ... I have four years of letters he wrote faithfully to Gramma. Some of them are chopped into pieces by the censors to make sure he wasn't sending something to her that would be intercepted and reveal locations. Interestingly enough, his letters sound like a man stationed overseas for work. He doesn't belabor the terror he's witnessing, but instead he professes his love over and over, inquires about the family farm, has Ruthie grown taller? and sure miss your pies!

What we didn't know ... was how his buddy was shot in front of him by a Japanese cave fighter and Grampa, who would normally not hurt a mouse, opened his flame thrower full-on and left the cave and all that was in it in ashes. What we didn't know, was that one night he was out laying barbed wire under cover of darkness when his comrades opened fire on the enemy and he had to finish his covert op with the sky lit up like the fourth of July.  What we didn't know, was how he came into the posession of a bloodied Japanese flag that he brought home with him and never talked about. What we don't know, are all the stories he took to his grave as sacred, haunting memories that he felt deserved to be buried rather than retold.

Did my Grampa save the world? does it matter? In the eyes of a 3 yr. old he brought me coffee, can there be anything more heroic than that?

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Jaime Wright -

Writer of Historical Romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :)

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2 comments:

  1. Sniff sniff Jaime. What a sacred story. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh my word, I want to cry.

    Lovely.

    ReplyDelete

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