GrandparentsMy grandfather married my grandmother when my father was in high school. My father's biological father died around the time of his birth from scarlet fever. My daughter just got over that very same disease with the help of the antibiotics not discovered in time to save Edmund. So grandmother left her home in Kansas and moved to Denver where her brother lived. She raised my father and uncle to be to great men.
She worked at a rubber factory during the big war. She was working on the line when a man was given the same job she was doing and receiving higher wages. In some circles she is mentioned as a hero for feminism, which was not quite the case. It was not about her rights of women, as much as it was about needing to take care of her boys and knowing what was right, regardless of gender. Since she was doing the same work, probably more, she demanded the same pay. She nearly shut down the whole production line as other female workers felt the same. Management relented and gave her a raise and the other women equal pay, which she surely used only to get my father and uncle what they needed.
Her sense of fairness never eluded me, as her and my father have passed it on to me. What runs threw our blood is a belief in being fair to the world and to each other. Beneath the current of fairness, runs the truth that we would all be ok if we keep our faith. It is an unspoken truth I can never put words around.
While my grandmother was working the factory lines, my grandfather was unknown to her and over seas in the Pacific. It was the very first time he had been more than 50 miles away from the house he was born in. Years later I called to tell him about a World War II movie. He told me the ending, as the movie was about a battle he fought in. He rarely spoke about the war until I opened that door, As he approached the end of his life, he had to tell his story.
He was a tech sergeant in the Army. They were frontal assaulting a hill on an island and getting slaughtered by machine gun nests The two lieutenants that had followed the orders and were leading my grandfather and his platoon straight into death got their heads literally blown off shouting out orders. My grandfather was then in charge and led his platoon behind the hill and did a suprose assault from behind, taking out three machine gun nest and saving thousands of men. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his taking the initiative and turning the tide to win the battle. But he never considered anything he did heroic. He was just doing what was right. The heroes didn’t come home, because they gave the ultimate sacrifice. He was in a fox hole a few days before this battle. He looked over the mound and saw the enemy coming, His best friend next to him, rose to see and his head blew apart all over my grandfather.
Through all of this, he did not stop making decisions. He knew that if you do not make a decision, someone else will make it for you and that is no way to live. So many people today avoid making the hard choices, myself included. But what I am learning is that his wisdom did save lives and will save me many hardships. Missed-steps are not failure if you learn from them and do not repeat.
I am making some hard choices right now in my life. And I wear his watch, the watch he was given in the War, the watch that needs winding, but never fails to keep perfect time, like the wisdom of he and his fututre wife, my grandmother. I carry them in my heart.