Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Morrow

Did you enjoy Memorial Day? Did you remember fallen soldiers? Did you partake in celebrations of the free life for which they presumably died? Or, are you like me and slept through most of it?

On the one paw, I didn't get invited to any barbecues. On the second hoof, it was pouring rain most of the day, so it's unlikely there were any barbecues to be invited to. On the third tentacle, what do barbecues have to do with memorials, anyway? Were the soldiers particularly big barbecue fans when they were alive?

I think my maternal grandfather fought in World War II. Or something close to it. Pretty sure it was the big one. I never really got to know the man. I was three or four when he died in civilian life. And even then, he was living some six thousand-plus miles (ten thousand-plus kilometers) away from where I was and still am. But I understand he was a fairly jolly soul with a sense of fun and smiles.

I never knew my other grandfather either. They both died during my early childhood. My paternal grandmother wasn't too far behind, done in by the effects of smoking circa her age 70, my age 7. I remember their half of a duplex in Skokie better than I remember them. A near-wall of plants overlooking the round, dark wooden table. Red carpet beneath the low coffee table in the living room, in turn beneath my grandmother's ashtray and game of solitaire — you know, with actual, physical playing cards. Dull beige couches and the old recliner. The black metal railing with swirly-cue bits. The rotary phone in the spare bedroom. Rust coming out of the bathtub faucet. The dark but tame basement, with its big freezer full of "goodies". Baby Linus and Lucy, wherever they feel like being. The memories fade, perhaps like the pictures that I'm sure we have somewhere. If not here, then certainly at my aunt's house, in which basement the low coffee table remains. Along with other relics.

Edit, an hour and change later: I'm told that, in fact, both my grandfathers were World War II soldiers. Fitting. Yes!

My mother's mother remains. Unfortunately, she does so in Israel, as I say, a continent and a half plus a major ocean away. Our communication is limited more or less to annual "snail-mail" cards (she doesn't do computers), and, every few times out of her weekly phone calls, I'll attempt a conversation via that medium. I tend to have nothing much to say, and she can barely hear my deep voice over the phone anyway.

A couple months ago, one of my cousin's friends whom I met at her wedding and subsequently befriended on the 'Book, playfully out of the blue listed me as his grandson. Joke's on him; I accept. Yay, I have a living grandfather! He's in California.... but still closer than Netanya!

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