Reminders were everywhere of The War. It was time to discover a bit of my Grampa’s reality of which he never spoke. (Okay – other than England is green, ate too much lamb there, and the hedgerows are thick – we didn’t hear what he experienced.) What my family does know is he took a train from Scotland to Southampton during the night.
My visit to the War Rooms were in his honour. Every time I saw red poppies in the UK I thought of he and all the mates he said goodbye. If you were part of my soppy moments when I happened on red poppies – this is why. It’s a tall Kentuckian with a sideways grin who saw unspeakable terror that gave me reason to honour his fellow soldiers whilst I visited the UK.
Fair play since he was the last of my clan who had boots on the ground in Blighty. In May, I carried his regimental coin to the UK in memory of him. His memory fell in the form of tears at the Cenotaph. This go I went to the Churchill War Rooms to look at history and walk their halls to honour him.
It was for him I gravitated to the memorials and respect for the sacrifices to country whilst in the UK. The next colonist you see taking detailed shots of red poppy wreaths on the streets of London could very well have a story similar to mine.
Apologies for the long spell of absence. A bit of time-traveling will do that to a soul. Back with a full debrief in a bit.
69 years ago, my Grandfather was among the troops that stormed Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on 6.6.1944. He hit French soil as a father of a little girl and husband to his sweetheart, Jemima, who were back home in Ohio. When he entered the Army in 1942, it was still an unknown if he’d ever travel far from Ft. Benning, GA.
They hit the beach around 0620 in the morning after a rough boat ride across the Channel from Weymouth, England.
As a child, I’d ask about the war and only get generalities such “England is really green, go see it” or “France had huge hedgerows.” Not much else was said about it. Yeah, asked about Hitler and he saw him in a parade. Mentioned Paris and marching down the Champs-Élysées when they liberated. France from the Germans. Said that the French were really scared.
It wasn’t until after he died on Thanksgiving Day in 1989 when I started digging for more details about his time in the Army that I learned how horrible war was for him. Or, why he was such a homebody who wanted life without the reminder of being a survivor of WW2. He had walked the bloody Continent and saw the entirety of the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium.
When I traveled to the UK, I took his coin from his regiment so I could fulfil his wish of getting back across the pond. I also saw reminders everywhere of the war from still crumbly buildings, poppy wreaths at every turn, and a sense of deep-rooted tragedy. It was then I really understood why he never spoke of the war.
So in part, today is my choice to remember him on such a day with his image. It’s is my way of saying thank you to the Greatest Generation.
He said to my Aunt Judy after my near-fatal motorbike wreck that cost me my left leg, “That girl has grit.”
I get it from him. That grit was forged today 69 years ago on a beach in France.
Thanks, Grampa…I really miss you. xxx
Mythical place of priorities and dreams. Or, to be truthful – the birthplace of dreams and provider of the ability to see those dreams become reality. These walls contain the place I dream up the adventures whilst the logical brain solves problems. It is my vacation place of logic that gives my creative side a place to rest until I step off the grounds of logic land. I don’t begrudge it. I welcome the shift between right and left brain. This is my right brain’s home. My left brain is resting up to shoot a rugby pitch, cuppa, or landscapes. Balance. Without it, both sides get choked.
The team that sparked my love of rugby is pictured here – Seattle OPSB. I’ve two West Coast teams I call my favourites – San Francisco Golden Gate and Seattle Old Puget Sound. When they play each other, it’s like asking a Mum who is her favourite child. Both loved for distinct reasons.
I was introduced to Seattle OPSB by a mate in Seattle who once played for them. Smitten from the outset, I set about immersing myself in its culture and realised a new world. The game of Heaven.
Seattle OPSB is legend.