My grandfather is a World War II veteran who earned several medals, including a purple heart but even if he only earned campaign medals, that wouldn’t make him or anyone any less of a hero.
He was a paratrooper with the 17th Airbourne. I have his medals and I’m very proud that he let me have them. I think it’s cool that he jumped out of planes in the war but some others think he was crazy. I’ll grant you he may have been, but then I’d probably jump out of a plane. If I could see I’d probably be in the Special Forces.
One of the clearest early memories I have of my maternal grandfather is us walking to Charles Sumner Elementary School and us dropping rocks in the sewers along the way. I called them rockers, and I liked the plop they made when they hit the water. He came over our house a lot to walk us to school and Barkley would always run to the door as soon as he heard the truck door slam. Grandpa had this really decrepit old truck that malfunctioned quite often and nowadays, he probably would have been cited for driving it. People who had to drive it for one reason or another always had plenty of stories about, brakes cutting out at the top of a hill and such.
He built many things, like I said he made me at least one slant board, two wishing wells, a number of adirondack chairs, helped build the porch on our old house, the enclosed porch at our summer place, the shed and probably others that I’m forgetting. One time, a day or two after kidney surgery, he was at the river and went up on the roof of the shed to fix something. I thought it was funny, my mother wasn’t laughing but I was.
He bought us Hess trucks for Christmas when Mark and I were younger. Some of them had cars on the back that you could take off and play with. I think we had around 10 between us.
He came over for Christmas and Thanksgiving. He liked to see how big a turkey we got and one year we took a picture of it for him. He ate lots of homemade Christmas cookies, kolachi were his favorite. First Barkley and later Fred would always sit by his chair and wait for illicit food from grandpa.
All good things must come to an end. He passed away in 2002 but he didn’t really suffer, so that was very good. He had black lung from working in the mines when he was young so it was a testament to him that he lived so long. I wanted him to live forever but unfortunately that wasn’t in the cards.
Near the end he came to our house because it was easier for us to watch him there. He repossessed Mark’s room and Mark was temporarily evicted. Sometimes, grandpa would see people in Mark’s closet but even then he was very lucid. The day before he passed away, he was well enough to come out on our little patio and have Memorial Day dinner with us. He did throw some cheese- itz and gumdrops into the bushes to” plant them.” For the most part though, he was extremely lucid.