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I was dressed in all black sitting in my great-grandmother’s living room, sorting through boxes and boxes of junk with my grandmother. With my great-grandfather sleeping in the next room and neither my grandmother nor I talking, the only sound that could be heard was the scraping of cardboard against cardboard and the occasional sniffle from my grandmother. It had only been one week since her passing, and already my family could feel my great-grandmother’s absence.
As I peeled the tape off a box, I heard a small “Wow” coming from my grandmother. I glanced over and saw her just sitting, staring slack-jawed at something small and metal in her hands.
“Did you find something, Grams?” I asked. I figured it had to be some sort of old bill or photo, as that was all we had come across.
“My Lord, I forgot all about this,” she answered.
Curious, I walked over to see what she was holding. To my surprise I saw what looked like a small gold military medal with a bright purple ribbon. I was confused. I didn’t think anyone in our family had ever served in a war.
“Is that something of one of Great-Granny’s friends?” I asked.
“No dear,” Grams answered me. “This belongs to your great-grandfather.”
I was shocked and confused. If Great-Grandad had served in a war, why did no one ever talk about it? I asked Grams just that.
“Well, it’s really not something Great-Granny liked to mention. It was a hard time for her.”
Grams paused. I waited, staring, wanting to hear more. Grams took a deep breath and continued.
“Great-Granny and Great-Grandad got hitched when she was seventeen and he was two weeks over eighteen. One week after they got married, Great-Grandad got a letter from the government. He was being drafted into WWII.”
“Oh,” I simply stated.
“ Great-Granny,” Grams continued, “was so frightened. She was proud, but frightened. She had heard so many horror stories of casualties from friends. She didn’t want to lose him. She fought tooth and nail to convince him to find a way out. Your great-grandad, being the stubborn man that he is, would not listen to her. He was so proud that he was going to be able to serve his country. He was shortly deployed to Japan. Right after he left, Great-Granny had a panic attack and had to go to the doctor. That was when she found out she was pregnant with my older brother. Your great-grandad was gone the entire pregnancy, including the birth. Those nine months wreaked havoc on her. She wanted him to be there for everything. Despite how proud she was of her husband for serving and for fighting for his country, she was disappointed. She was so worried about him, about her baby, and the future of her family, that she had to be put on bed rest for the last two months. She was a nervous wreck until he walked through the door a year later, injured from a bullet to the shoulder. He was never deployed again. She smothered him with hugs and kisses and introduced him to their son. She asked him not to talk about that time because of how rough it was on her. Short of vaguely telling me and my siblings, they never did.”
“Wow,” was all I could think of to say. I couldn’t believe there was this whole rocky time period I knew absolutely nothing about. I couldn’t believe I never knew my great-grandad was drafted into World War II.
We both sat in silence for a few minutes as I processed and digested all of this new information. Every second that went by, I had new questions popping into my head. I couldn’t keep myself from blurting them out.

“How old were you when they told you? Did your dad or your mom tell you? Was it an accident that you found out or was it some sort of prepared conversation? Does anyone else in the family know? What did you think when you found out?”

Grams gave a little smile.

“I was 13 when they told me and my brother and sisters were 15, 10, and 8, respectively. My dad told us. Mom was with us, but she was only a silent participant, crying most of the time. It was an accident that I found out. I found a picture and this same medal and asked them about it. Your mom only knows he was in World War II. When I found out, I was shocked, taken aback, and proud. I was so very, very proud.” Grams took a deep breath.

“Wow,” I said again. Then, as my curiosity grew, I thought of one last question for my grandma.

“Does Great-Grandad like to talk about it?” I asked her.

“Yes, I think he does,” She answered. “From what I gathered from some pictures, he made a few army buddies I’m pretty sure he keeps in touch with. He had a twinkle in his eye when he told us. I think he is still so proud that he was able to serve his country.”

The wheels were turning in my head as she spoke. I wanted to hear more about his war days and I wanted to learn more about him in the process. But I didn’t want to hear it from someone else. I wanted to hear about it first-hand.

“Grams…” I began. “What would you think about hearing more?”

For the first time in a week Grams smiled a real smile.

“I would love that,” she answered.

-------------------------


Grams and I walked to the back of the house and to my great-grandad’s bedroom. I knocked softly and slid the door open.

“Great-Grandad?” I called.

Great-Grandad turned over so he was facing us and opened his eyes.

“Howdy Baby Girls,” he said with a smile when he saw us. We walked over and took a seat right next to his bed.

“How are you feeling, Daddy?” Grams asked.

“I’ve had better days emotionally,” he answered. “But physically, I’m just fine. What’s that?” Great-Grandad asked pointing to the object I had brought with me.

“This is a video camera. Grams just told me about you being drafted. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to ask you some questions about it and Grams is going to record it.” I explained.

“That’s just fine, Sweet Pea,” he grinned. “I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me about my stories for quite some time now.”

Now, I was smiling.

“Awesome! I’m so excited to hear them.”

“Where should I start?” he asked me.

“How about the beginning,” I replied. I had my pencil poised over my notepad and motioned for Grams to press record. Great-Grandad shifted to get comfortable, took a deep breath, and began talking about receiving his draft letter. I sat in my chair for at least two hours, just listening while he spoke.





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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

shywriter said...
May 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm
I don't think any of the dialogue's seemed out of place and I loved this story! Reminds me of the number of times i've listened to my grandfather talk about his army days. 
 
dncingdva94 said...
May 28, 2011 at 12:07 am
Thanks guys! You're right. I went back and read through it again with those comments in mind and i totally see where some of the dialogue seems out of place. I'm going to go and rework some of it. Thanks again for the constructive criticism!
 
ibadancer13 said...
May 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm
I really like your story! I agree with YellowRose79 that some of the dialogue seemed out of place, but I loved how I was really able to connect with the characters.  Great job!
 
YellowRose79 said...
May 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm
I enjoyed the story though sone of the dialogue doesn't seem to fit. But good job!
 
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