"Back then the Navy took the Coast Guard over in war time…"
That's how Pop-Pop always started
Everyone would roll their eyes and sit back for another
Rambling story that never really had a plot or a point
But that first line never put me to sleep
As everyone else was sitting back I'd inch up

I can't fully remember his stories
They were always the same though
In a different order sometimes
But always the same script
He'd talk about his first job;
Picking strawberries,
The first time he met my grandmother;
He'd see her from his window every morning as she walked to work
She was engaged, but he took the ring off her finger and
I guess the rest, as they say, is history
But mostly he'd talk about the war

He'd tell us about the time his brother came to visit him
When I was younger I never really understood
Why he always seemed so excited about it
But when I think about it now
In the middle of a war
It must be a wonderful relief to see a familiar face

His brother was passing through the same area as he was;
I wonder what the probability is.
One of the guys on my grandfather's ship told him
Someone had stopped by, asking for him
They hadn't given a name
The next time he came back my grandfather was thrilled to see who it was
Apparently someone in charge didn't like him visiting though
But my grandfather was proud to say he told them to fuck off
Pop-Pop would then ramble off a bunch of places he'd visited
"Sicily, Italy…"
Those are the only two words I remember him saying
because of the way he'd say them
"Sis'ly, It'ly..."
He'd talk about the morning Patton and his men
Were being filmed on a beach as if they'd just arrived;
Taking credit for whatever it was that had happened
My grandfather would then say,
"We were done eating breakfast long before he got there",
With a subtle tone of disgust

He'd talk about storming Normandy too
It was really only two sentences
But they were always upsetting to hear
And as I grew up, the most heartbreaking part of it
Was that Pop-Pop said them so nonchalantly.
I can't remember his exact words
I guess I was too preoccupied
To remember the way he'd formed the sentences
But it was a story of a friend
One minute fighting alongside him
The next minute laying in the sand
With half his head and brain scattered around them
Against someone's orders Pop-Pop dragged him... somewhere
I'm not really sure where he dragged him,
I guess I wasn't paying attention at that point
That's normally where his stories would end
Sometimes he'd talk about his nine brothers and sisters
How his older brother would spit in the ice cream
So no one else could eat it
Or he'd teach us how to say beer or pee in Polish

I'd give anything to have recorded his stories
To be able to hear them word for word
I'm lucky to have heard them at all though
I'm thankful to have heard them at all


Patty said...

What great words. Too bad the moment passed you by for recording all of his memories.

Get what you can remember now so that you can pass them all down.

My husband was a USMC door gunner in Vietnam 66-67. He does not talk a lot of about Vietnam, but when he does say something I try to write it down.

Mu husband is with the Coast Guard Aux. He enjoys it.

Love the photo. What a great Pop-Pop you had.

dof789 said...

yea i have the same regrets about my grandfather (one day I'll right a blog about him), he wasn't in WWII but he did do tours of Germany post WWII. What made him unique was that he was a renaissance man i once estimated that he had at least 14 occupations throughout his life. If only he was still around....

Bill Doetzer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Doetzer said...

Your Grandfather was a true hero. I think the most important thing is that you know how special he was. We all owe something to people like him.

emmapeelDallas said...

What a great post, and what a great pic, and what a great Grandfather he was.

Blog Archive