The following is a post that was originally published in 2012.
With great love and In Memory of Grandpa Ray:
When my oldest daughter was about 3 or 4 years old, we were at the grocery store one day and there was a man selling poppies for Veteran’s Day. Of course she loved the bright red bloom and wanted one, so I bought it.
When we got into the car she asked “Mama, why was that man selling flowers”, so I explained that he was a Veteran and he was selling the poppies for Veteran’s day. This was of course followed by another question: “What is a veteran?” I explained to her that a Veteran was someone who served our country, a soldier. I told her that her Grandpas were both Veterans, and in fact, her Grandpa Ray was in World War II. I told her that we were thankful to all of these soldiers who served their country and protected us and that we should be proud that we had Veteran’s in our own family. We continued our conversation about Veterans and soldiers and wars for a bit, but moved on to other things.
The very next day we visited Grandpa Ray at his house and my daughter immediately asked him about being a soldier. I was afraid that this might be a subject that my father-in-law, who was a Marine and had seen active duty in the war, might not want to discuss with a three-year old child. Ray has always been the “happy man” of the family, our children’s delightful, cheerful mentor and subjects that are unpleasant are usually met with a change of subject from him.
This was not the case at all though. He took her into the other room and answered her questions and told her about some of his days as a soldier. I don’t know what the conversation was, exactly, because they were out of earshot. Ray has never talked much about his time in the service or what he experienced there. The family respects his silence on the subject and does not ask for many details. Grandpa and oldest grandchild talked for a bit and then joined Grandma and me in the kitchen for cookies or some other treat, as I recall.
The amazing thing to me is how that short conversation has stayed with her all these years. She has remembered her Grandpa each Veteran’s day since then…first by making sure we always purchased a poppy and then, as she got older and moved to different cities by phone calls to wish him a Happy Veteran’s Day and thank him for his service. Each November 11 they have talked – without so much as a reminder from me. Birthdays and anniversaries have come and gone and sometimes I have had to send notes to say….”Don’t forget”, but no matter how far apart the two of them have been, they have never missed a single Veteran’s Day.
This year, Grandpa is unable to take her phone call. He is recovering from a recent illness in a Rehab facility, and his speech isn’t what it once was. She did remember, though, and sent him a lovely bouquet of flowers – red, white and blue, thanking him once again for his service. They were delivered on Saturday, because this year the holiday falls on a Sunday and the florist does not deliver. He smiled with pride when he got them, and I know he was remembering that conversation that the two of them had all those years ago. It made me proud to be his Daughter-in-Law and also proud to be her Mother.
Thank you to Ray and all of the other Veteran’s out there who have served us in so many ways. We are proud of all of you!