A Memorial Day Memory from My Aunt About Her Father…
“Somtimes you just have to write. . .
Never a Parade without Tears
“Grief can be defined as an overwhelming sadness over the loss of a loved one. To me it is more. It is remebering the things that I love about the person. These are happy and joyous thoughts, but they come out in tears. This morning in church I had one of those grief times. We sang several patriotic songs, and I was reminded that my father always cried at parades whenever a soldier walked by. As the band played, he always sang out ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ even though singing wasn’t his thing.
“As a child I thought the tears were just a grateful response to what the soldiers had done. The real story was quite different. Dad was a WWII Army Air Corp cadet in training to be a B-17 ball turret gunner (Very high mortality rate). While in training one day he heard a buddy humming a tune. When he asked what it was, the buddy said it was a hymn and went on to share Christ with my Dad. Dad accepted Christ and his buddy became a very important part of his life.
“They exchanged phone calls and Christmas cards every year. It became part of our Christmas tradition to listen to Dad share his testimony of salvation and share the Christmas card from his buddy, Eddie that had introduced him to the Lord.
“My Dad’s mom had suffered with dementia before she passed away. She would often become angry. This concerned my Dad as he grew older that he might have the same problem and become a poor reflection of the love of Christ. One Christmas Dad got a card from Eddie, but the handwriting was very poor. The next year the card was from Eddie’s wife explaining that Eddie had Alzheimer’s and didn’t recognize any of his family any more. He was in a vet home. The only thing that he did remember was scripture, and he had been named “Chaplain” at the home. This was a great comfort to my Dad, especially after he had his first stroke.
“The rest of the story.
“So why the tears at parades? WWII was life changing for my Dad. He had a very clear understanding of the sacrifices made by so many of his friends and commrads. He also understood that the position he was training for was a very dangerous one, but the war ended before he was sent abroad. But more than that, WWII was where and when he came to know Christ. So many lives were changed by death. My Dad’s life was changed by life. He couldn’t face a uniform without considering what his life was like before, and thus the tears of joy and gratitude to his buddy Eddie.
“So, with happiness and joy, I have a memory that makes me smile, but comes out with tears.”