My grandfather was a jokester. Yes, he could make anyone laugh and that’s what I remember most about him. “Pull my finger” was among his favourites, and he had an arsenal of twisted jokes that he pulled out whenever the situation called for. I remember him pretending to be an auctioneer, and calling me a little “boy” to tease me and insisting that I was a boy even when I would get mad and teary-eyed–“What do you mean you’re a girl? No, no, you’re a boy.” He certainly had a strange and good sense of humour, and his singing voice was just lovely–a booming tenor filled with melody and strength. He brought this quiet, happy presence to our family get-togethers, and I miss him. He passed away several years ago.
He was in the war–WWII–and I wanted to take a moment here to honour him and his contribution to our country and to peace in this world. He was a supply driver, and was stationed in Italy, and England. His job was to take army supplies, such as ammunition, to where-ever they were needed. He used to sleep under his truck, and could only stay asleep for 10-15 minutes at a time because he had to keep alert and was, I’m sure, a bit scared to fall into a deep sleep during war-time.
One particular war-time story of his stands out in my mind, partly because it somewhat shows my grandfather’s “naughty” personality, and partly because it makes me think about how little decisions we make can have big effects. One night, my grandfather’s friend had invited him to go see a movie (motion picture back in those days). All the other guys were going out to the bar, to party and let loose. My grandfather, weighing the options, of course chose to go to the bar with the others and so his friend went to the movies alone. It so happened that night that a bomb hit the movie theatre, and my grandfather lost his friend. Of course, he was grateful for his decision to avoid the movies, but it was hard to lose someone close.
My mother said that while my grandfather didn’t say much about his time in the war, he would have nightmares and would wake up screaming. He held it all inside rather than burden others with his painful memories. I would have loved to hear more about those times.
Remembrance day is an important day because we all need reminding what war can turn into. It is ugly and brutal, and there are still wars going on all over the world. I keep in my heart my grandfather and all those who risked their own lives to bring peace to our country and the world, and those who are still risking their lives around the world. I love you grandpa.