Dear Grandpa, Its Memorial Day

me & Grandpa abt 1986Dear Grandpa, It’s Memorial Day weekend and you have been on my mind this weekend. Yesterday was the picnic with the in-laws. It’s become less of a family gathering and more of a social gathering of friends, which is okay too.  Will’s family is not nearly as large as ours is. Many of the older generations have passed on or have health issues that don’t allow them to attend. I spent a good part of the time sitting halfway between 2 groups, the younger half below and behind me while the older half was above and in front of me playing horseshoes. I was sitting at the fire pit, working on my  custom drop spindle, not a part of either group yet privy to the conversations going on in both. Oddgh, I was comfortable in my own space. The things I find interesting and enjoy doing are not shared by anyone here so I am used to sitting on the sidelines. I was told once that I talk about the same things all the time yet I do as anyone would, I talk about what is going on in my life at a given moment.  So needless to say, I don’t say much. Today was the town parade and ceremony. They played ‘Taps’ on the bugle and I though of you and the day you were laid to rest. I had never known what it was like to loose someone close to me and it hurt pretty bad. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wished that the boys could have met you. I’ve told so many people about you driving Dusty in the parades and singing Polish lullabies to all the kids. I sang what I could remember to my kids. Its still soothing to hear but I miss you doing it. After today’s parade was a town picnic. Its a wonderful gathering of folks to celebrate our vets currently in the service, those that retired, and those that have passed on. Just like in Stephentown, there are families in town that have been here for ages. Some of our elementary kids spoke on the theme for this year, ‘It is for Us the Living.’ Its amazing what kids will say when they are able to speak their own words instead of just being given a script to read. They speak true and from their hearts, about what this holiday means for them. One of Jake’s buddies won a contest put on by the PTO and Memorial Day Committee for writing an essay about how we can help our vets. Eriel is much like Jake in personality so they are two peas in a pod. Eriel got up to read his essay in front of the town and did really well. When he came and sat down afterwards, I gave him a thumbs up and the sheepish look I got told me he was pretty proud of himself. He seems like a good kid. One of our younger service members, a Marine, was there in uniform. I couldn’t remember what your dress uniform looked like so I didn’t know he was a Marine until I asked. Once I asked though, I could see you all dressed up like it was yesterday. You looked so handsome. I think I only saw you in uniform once, before you passed away. I have a picture of you out of uniform as well, at Camp Pendleton I think. Looked like you were hanging out in the sunshine, wearing just shorts and your boots. I love the picture. My grandpa was a stud muffin! On days like today, I wish I had spent more time asking you questions about the war. Jake is an avid history buff and likely knows more about the war than I do and he’s 11 years old. He would make a great history teacher but says he’d like to be an architect. He also mentioned something about joining the air force because he’d like to fly. Its scares me but I’ll support him all the way if that’s his calling. I miss you terribly Grandpa. When you passed away, the family started to separate. There seemed less of an effort for the family to get together and those of us who are first cousins, got married and started having children of our own. It’s so much harder for everyone to get together when there are two sides to every family. When I moved to Connecticut, we said that we would head back to New York once a month. Not only did that not happen, it happened even less once we got to having kids. I miss the picnic atmosphere and having family gather all at the same place. Now, with the farm sold years ago, there isn’t a place big enough for all of us together in one place, inside. Next year is Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary and I’m not sure where we’re going to have the party. I have thought of inviting everyone down to Connecticut and have everyone pitch a tent in my backyard. I’m sure we would have enough room for that. Will could build us a nice shiny dance floor and we could polka and swing dance. So much has changed within the family dynamics too. People have changed, moved away, had arguments, and misunderstandings. I’ve learned things about my family that I’m not really sure I want or needed to know but what I do know is, they are all still my family and that will never change. We are all human and as such we make mistakes. We need to get over it and move on. You only get one go-round so you better make the best of the time that you have. Life is too short to spend arguing or holding grudges. On occasion, I miss being a teenager and being naive about the ways of adult life. It was easy to spend summer in the pool and have picnics at the farm. I miss the Fireman’s Muster and the Block Dance where we could hang with our friends and sneak away into the shadows to steal a kiss from our boyfriends. Sometimes, ignorance was bliss. I miss getting off the bus at the farm and helping you carry warm milk into the house. I remember snuggling baby goats for the first time while it was so cold outside and brushing Dusty at every opportunity I could. I wish you were here to pull us all back together again. Here’s to you Grandpa, for serving our country and for keeping our family whole. You are well and truly missed.   Here are pictures of 2 of Grandpa’s brothers who are also veterans, Uncle Victor and Uncle Chester. I’ve never met you but you’re still missed. Notice the rakish tilt to Victors hat. Love it!

Also pictured is Grandpa riding Prince. It is the only picture I have of him on horseback.

Uncle VicUncle ChesterGrandpa on Prince

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