Thursday, November 11, 2010

Celebrate Me Home

Happy Veterans Day! I just this morning found out that difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day is that VD was intended to be celebratory while MD should be more solemn. How about that.

I find myself getting more and more mindful of observing the holiday as years go on. This is not only because world circumstances can't seem to stop creating opportunities for people to serve in the military, but also because my appreciation for the people who have cleared the path for the very easy life I get to live increases with every bit of maturity I somehow accumulate. I am a pacifist by nature, but it doesn't mean I don't have the utmost respect for the people who put their life on the line for me to preach peace.

Naturally it makes me think of the veterans that I have known, in particular my keenly missed Pup. He will always be my favorite person in the world. I named my baby after him, and I would have even if he had been a girl. Pup took part in the Normandy invasion and served as MP and as an interpreter in Europe World War II. It's so hard to imagine that the same soft, kind person I knew saw what he saw and did what he had to do to protect this country when he was no more than a boy. He very rarely talked about it, and I don't blame him. But I took his bravery for granted, just as I took his love.

We're celebrating here, so here's a list of things that remind me of Pup, my most beloved veteran, in the most wonderful way:

-the music of Mama Cass Elliott.

-oatmeal with honey and milk. He hated the stuff, being forced to eat it every day of his childhood, but he made it for me on dark winter mornings and when I make it for myself it's shorthand for home.

-Barney Miller

-impossible jigsaw puzzles and games of solitaire with cards worn down to velvet, playing until he "beat the bonhomme!"

-rocking babies to sleep. He was masterful at this, in spite of his terrible singing voice. We joked that it was actually because of the singing, as babies went to sleep to block it out. He made up his own lullaby, and it's the one I sing to HR every night.

-finding change on the ground. He went for long walks every day--doctor's orders--following the quadruple bypass when he was in his late 50s, and he came home with at least a dollar a day.

-stinky feet. You could tell if he was taking his nap from the second you opened the door to his apartment because it was obvious by the smell that his slippers were off. Because of him, foot odor doesn't bother me at all.

-well, just everything. I'll never meet a better person in my life, and I was lucky to have him as long as I did. If HR turns out to be a quarter of the man his great-grandfather was, I'll consider my parenting a success.

Man, this has been an unexpectedly emotional week for me.  But today the most prominent feeling is happiness in my heart in honor of my Pup. The atrocity of war is nothing to celebrate, but no matter what your philosophy or political slant, those who serve in the military deserve to be feted with gratitude.

1 comment:

  1. I always thought the diff was that Veteran's Day was for those - dead or alive - who served in the military, and Memorial Day was for everyone who has died, military or not. At least it is in my book and that's how I like to celebrate the two.