Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Feeling reflective. Counting my limbs above water.

So there is this story- a true one, although my feeble recap of it I am sure will do it no justice. But it keeps bouncing around inside of me today so I thought I would share...

My father's father was a great man. He passed away at eighty years old, in 1995, and what I knew of him then was enough to fill me with pride for at least eighty of my own years. I knew him to be kind, with crinkly eyes and big hands and a deep snore that reverberated into the living room where I would sleep soundly in freezing air conditioned temperatures on the blow up mattress in Pembroke Pines, Florida. He was the man who would swim laps with me at the pool and never hinted at being tired or, what I can only assume, painfully bored after hours of repetition. He was the man who would pull out this old clunky silver radio and sing songs with me while he dutifully played dolls with me. His smile did light up every room for a mile. He would wake up before everyone in the house, slick his hair back with V05 hair creme and drive to the far away bagel store so that we would wake up to decent bagels every morning- a feat in southern Florida. We would see every movie I wanted to, and he would have his jacket around me before I even knew I was about to be be cold. He and I would concoct milk shakes for dessert, annihilate coloring books and stroll around the lake. I strolled with my head held high, never scared of the alligator signs when he was near me. Towering at an imaginative 9 feet tall, I had every confidence in his abiity to fend off prehistoric attackers.

His death was a double whammy to me. Not only was his death the first close person I had to endure, but I lost a hero that day. What happened in years to follow, however, brought new light to his life, and I have had the honor to learn what he was outside of Grandpa Lou.

The youngest of four, Louie joined the army alongside all three of his older brothers- two of them were doctors serving as physician's in the field. Somehow, they all were able to keep tabs on their little brother, allowing him to serve his country selflessly while they accepted the responsibility of worry. And when my grandfather's troop was called to France, his brother acted on some internal alarm going off, and ran to  the youngest brother's supervisor, pulling him from his post to perform an appendectomy. It was an emergency, as it turned out, when nobody from that mission returned alive.

His unnecessary surgery gave him another sixty years of life. It gave him three children- all of whom are exceptional people. It gave him my brother, who is the funniest person I have ever known. It gave me him.

I am thinking of every family whose roots grew as a result of someone's act of kindness, serving our country.

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