Thursday, October 16, 2008


One of my uncles passed away this week. When anyone I love dies, I am always left wishing I would have called more, written more, done more. He passed away after a fairly sudden but brief illness of some sort. The doctors spent three weeks trying to figure out what it was, but couldn't determine exactly what was making him sick or how to fix it. My mom has been working hard trying to get things sorted out and making sure everyone is taken care of. My aunt (my uncle's wife) had a stroke years ago and needs constant care.

My uncle served in the Coast Guard, so I told my mom I would try to figure out if my aunt was eligible for any survivor benefits. My neighbor suggested I visit the American Legion building near our house. I looked it up online, jotted down the address and set out to find it with Evan in tow. I drove straight there (thank you navigation system), parked and loaded Evan in the stroller. As I was walking through the door, I was looking down at the wheels of the stroller because they caught a little. I looked up as I got inside and I expected to see a receptionist at a desk.

Imagine my surprise when I looked up to realize I was in a smoke-filled bar. There were probably ten men at the bar with refreshing adult beverages in hand--did I mention it was still before noon? They all looked equally surprised to look up and see a lady with a baby standing in their midst. The bartender asked me if I needed help--and not in the how can I help you kind of way, but more in the, lady--is your car broken down out front or something?

I felt really stupid, but explained why I was there and a really nice man got up from the bar came over and gave me some paperwork. Then, an elderly man walked in and took one look at Evan and said, "I used to have hair that color once." He seemed to be getting a kick out of Evan, and we sat and talked to him while Evan popped Cheerios in his mouth and made silly faces. The man told me that he served on the U.S.S. Missouri from 1944 to 1946 and showed me a card to prove it. When he showed me the card I thanked him for his service, and then Evan started making the sign for thank you. The man thought Evan was blowing a kiss (because it looks very similar) and blew one back.

I've been thinking about the man quite a bit since then. He seemed so frail and lonely. I wish I retained more of what I've learned in the history classes I've taken...I figured he had served during WWII, but I couldn't remember exactly when the war ended. I Googled the ship tonight and read that on April 11, 1945 a kamikaze suicide plane attack hit the side of the ship, causing some damage. I also read that about five months later, on September 2, 1945, the Japanese formally surrendered on that ship. I wish I would have talked to him more and learned more about what he did during the war; where he was on the ship when the surrender document was signed; if he heard or saw the kamikaze plane when it hit.

I've also been wishing I knew more about my uncle...who he was before he married my aunt. My mom said she found his dog tags yesterday when she was cleaning out his house. It is kind of funny how you forget that people had lives before you knew them. I think I was 11 or 12 when he married my aunt. (I played the wedding music on the piano for them--they were sweet to let me since I wasn't all that good). Anyway, I guess this week has served as a reminder to make more calls, ask more questions and take more time to be with the people around you. And to all my friends and family who are reading this--I do think about you, even if I don't call or e-mail as much as I'd like to! I'm going to try to be better.

1 comment:

jfm said...

I love your blog. I enjoy watching and hearing about Evan. I must admit that after reading yours, Becca's and Melissa's blog, I'm tired! I marvel at how much you girls do with your young families and applaud you for sharing it with the rest of us.
Thank you.
Aunt Janice