We set aside today, November 11, to say thank you to the veterans that have served our country. I’m sure the blogosphere will explode with thank yous to our service men and women, but this one’s a little bit different. This is for the Veterans in my life that have made me who I am today.
Roscoe – My Great-Grandfather
He served in the army in World War 1 as a private. We read his journal after he died and laughed so hard to read the words of a young man. It was so strange to see that perspective when we had only ever known him as grandpa. He wrote in his journal about a pesky girl back home that kept writing to him – Pearl. A girl that turned out to be my great-grandmother.
My great-grandfather served in a war where the flu claimed more lives than the war. The flu. Can you imagine?
He survived and lived to the ripe old age of 104. He trounced me at Chinese Checkers every single time we played except for once. Once I beat him. I think it shook his confidence a little, he proceeded to school me 3 games in a row afterwards to prove it was a fluke.
He and my great-grandmother kept a big jar of coins – only silver, no pennies. Every time I visited he let me take two large handfuls of coins for myself. There were half dollars and silver dollars in there too! I still have a couple of them.
Thank you Grandpa.
I have taught my kids to play Chinese Checkers because of you.
Armando – My Grandfather
He served as an army captain in World War II. He spent a good part of his service in Italy – back to his roots. His parents (my great grandparents) had immigrated from Italy to America before he was born.
He bought his mother (Francesca) a pair of sapphire earrings while on tour. Earrings that he later gave to me just before he died. I think that was the last gift he gave me.
My grandfather owned shoe repair stores in New York City, loved to hunt, loved women – he must have loved them to get married 4 times, had a close circle of friends, and was always ready with sage words of advice. Some of his more memorable ones:
The Key to Happiness – Keep your mouth shut and your bowels open.
or this one
You don’t have to marry for money, just go where money is and fall in love.
Obviously I haven’t listened to either very well.
My grandfather was tough on the outside and tender on the inside, loved his animals, was incredibly charismatic, and was an incredible cook. He made artichokes, acorn squash, wild turkey and venison cutlets to die for.
My grandfather bought me my first saddle, taught me how to catch shrimp and build a fence, taught me the correct way to fold towels, and instilled a love of the outdoors and down comforters.
I wish he could have met my kids. I know he would have loved them.
Thank you Grandpa. My son carries your name.
My Dad served in the Army as a tank commander during the Vietnam War. He wasn’t deployed to Vietnam though, thank goodness.
My Dad was my everything. Every Thursday night was our night to go out to eat, just the two of us – often for calamari. He picked me up from school every day and watched my new tricks on the monkey bars for at least 45 minutes. Every. Day. After he’d lift me on his shoulders to pick a pear from the tree in the school yard.
He taught me to play backgammon and gin rummy. On Sundays we’d watch the Mutual of Omaha wildlife show followed by the Disney movie. He taught me how to build a fire, pitch a tent, and catch a fish. He put me on my first horse which sparked a lifelong love of horses for me and read Squirrel Nutkin, Peter Rabbit, and Cat in the Hat over and over again until I fell asleep.
He taught me every word of “You are my sunshine.” and “Santa is coming to town.”, how to spot deer at dusk, and how to encourage an old Pontiac to make it up the hill.
He taught me to be adventurous, to never say “I can’t”, but instead “What will it take to get there?” To plan, to be logical, to see the steps, to cut through the B.S. to the heart of the matter.
He taught me to be tough, to stand strong, to face the world with my chin up. He taught me family is everything and when you find those that you love and that love you, you hold on tight and do anything for them.
He taught me the meaning of unconditional love.
Thank you Dad.
My kids play backgammon and know unconditional love because of you.
Air Force Boys
In college, I had the privilege of meeting and making friends with many of the Air Force ROTC cadets. It may seem silly to include them in this list, but they shaped my life and I’d be remiss to leave them out.
They taught me what being in love meant versus infatuation, to look at the world as an adult and to look for ways to make it a better place. They taught me the meaning of brotherhood and friendship, loyalty and honor.
They are men now and I am so proud of each and every one of them. And so privileged to call them friends.
Thank you for all you do.
My ex-husband was a Sergeant in the Marines. He enlisted after high school and spent some time in Japan as a diesel mechanic.
He taught me many things and has significantly shaped who I am today.
On the positive, he taught me the undeniable power of laughter. He has an incredibly quick wit and can throw one liners out to add humor or to defuse tension. I wish I had that talent.
He taught me that not all battles need to be fought. There are times when walking away and avoiding the confrontation is the best approach.
He taught me the beauty of just being, not looking to the next goal, not thinking 5 steps ahead, not worrying about tomorrow – just being content in the now.
But most of all, he gave me beautiful children whom I love dearly. Children that have molded me in ways I never expected. Children I can’t imagine my life without.
Thank you Gene.
All the Veterans
Thank you to all the Veterans that have influenced me directly and also those that have created the environment in which I now live, the country in which I am raising my children.
Thank you for all you do. Thank you to your families for the sacrifices they make so that I feel safe with mine.