I’ve tried to make it a habit to call or visit my grandfather every Veterans Day. This year will likely be his last. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease several years ago, and his health has been declining rapidly over the past few weeks. He hasn’t known who I was for the past few years, and recently, he’s grown so thin and frail that I’ve had trouble recognizing him. Reading the letter, I was reminded of the grandfather I knew, the one who made friends with everyone he met and used to slip me dollar bills when I was a kid, and always had cookies hidden in his pockets. Aging is perhaps life’s greatest tragedy, but it helps to remember what a long and happy life he’s led.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Letter from a veteran
My aunt recently found a letter that my grandfather had written to his parents at the end of World War II. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the Air Force because liked planes, but he ended up spending his time either on ships in the Pacific or on land in Okinawa. It’s amazing to read something like this and try to imagine what life must have been like back then (the world in peril! typewriters!), or to think of my grandfather as a young man, in love with a schoolteacher named Millie (my grandmother) and worrying about the safety of his two brothers. You can click on the images to enlarge them enough to make them readable.