Today’s News, Tomorrow’s History

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            It has been little more than a year ago since my mom died, though it seems much longer. With both of our mothers gone, Crystal and I are more determined than ever that their stories be told. We stay close with our fathers. The biggest accomplishment of the past year was to help my dad move closer to us and family. He expresses his gratitude almost every time we see him. While he is ninety-two years old, I honestly believe he never felt old until he lost his wife of sixty-four years. Similarly, Crystal’s dad is always glad when we visit, but has not felt complete since Mary Jane passed some half a dozen years ago. He insists that sometimes he can still feel her presence in his house. While he still considers life worth living, as time passes, he feels an increasing longing to once again be with his Mary Jane.

            What ever eventually happens with this memoir, I couldn’t be prouder of our parents. They overcame more before we were born than we will have in our entire lives. It won’t be long before the “greatest generation” will be relegated to the history books. If we hadn’t undertaken this project we might have never fully appreciated efforts, sacrifices, and life changing events which occurred.

            Whatever happens next, our eyes have been opened. When I first read the twelve page single spaced “love letter” dad wrote to me when I was one year old, I was in awe. I was amazed at the detailed story of his youth in Germany, trip to America, and war exploits. I had no idea that he was writing it at a time when his life was in turmoil. He wanted me to know about my father even if he wasn’t around to tell me.

            Crystal’s father shared little about his war experiences when she was young. He only said that war was horrible. It took him years to be able to talk about his experiences. Crystal’s mom was always more forthcoming, though her version might have been somewhat censored. Someday, we may read the two boxes of letters between Mary Jane and Jim, which are now gathering dust in his basement. For now we continue to add details and layers to our book. I practically have a relationship with the women at the National Personnel Records Department in St. Louis. For the last eight months I have been trying to get Jim’s military records, to fill in some details. I can’t adequately describe how much fun it is to try to get something from our government. Try it sometime. Crystal is continuing to read other successful memoirs and come up with useful suggestions, and also some affirmations. We have done a lot right.

            I think the best thing is that working on this project together has brought Crystal and me closer together (if that’s possible). We share a healthy outlook. This is only part of the journey, not the journey.

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