Five of your grandsons served in the Second World War but you wouldn’t know that. You passed before the War to End All Wars even began.
Dad, my dad, trained to be a fighter pilot. Too young to serve in the war, he missed the atrocities, finished his active duty without the black memories that scarred his brothers. Couldn’t continue training, Gram wouldn’t allow it. Wouldn’t see another of her boys in danger. But he found a way, years later, when he got his private pilot’s license.
Hiram, my dashing uncle, handsome and bright and full of life. That’s how I’ll always remember him. He only came to visit once or twice a year when Gram was still around. Visited less when she passed. He lived out-of-state with his beautiful wife, Rae and god how I idolized them.
Hiram called me “Kitten,” and always had a smile. Ray was a petite southern lady with impeccable manners, impeccable dress. When she asked how I was, she’d pat my arm and say, wonderful, dear. You’re a beautiful girl.
Kind words from strangers.
I wished they lived closer.
Hiram was an aerial gunner in the Air Force. Think he was the one shot down over enemy lines. He, like his brothers, never talked about the war and I never dared bring it up. Closed subject. Life was now and he had no time to dwell on painful memories.
Hiram and Rae went dancing every Saturday night. I never saw them, but it took little imagination to see them gliding across the floor, without effort, with the practised skill of 40 years of togetherness. Rae called him “Terry.” Couldn’t understand where that nick-name came from, especially since his last name was Ferry… (I’ll let you sound it out).
Rae died first. Hiram soon after. Sad, but somehow it seemed fitting – they simply shouldn’t be apart.
I’ll never learn to fly a plane, not like my dad. I’ll never do anything heroic, not like Hiram, but when a chance came recently for me to jump in a helicopter, well… some genes just dominate.
What a blast.