This Memorial Day is a little different for my family this year. In years past, my father would sit back in his dining room chair after the table had been cleared from a fabulous dinner on the grill, my mom would bring out the coffee pot and Dad would start telling stories.
Dad has always been an artful storyteller. Maybe it was his youth growing up in the Smokey Mountains without any Nintendos of today, but he could capture the attention of anyone. And I mean anyone! Neighbors, customers of his, and people we didn’t even know.
During times like this we heard about the celebration of the war being over soon after he arrived in Germany and the celebration that ensued. But, he’d also talk about how Berlin and Frankfurt looked so different compared to today. War torn and leveled to the ground, my father was one of the soldiers who arduously helped build these cities back for Germany- they were called the “bridge builders.” We also heard about the many friendships he’d made along the way while trading cigarettes for chocolate and the kindness and hospitality of the German residents.
He’d then go on and talk about how proud he was of my two brothers. Danny who was sent to Guam during the VietNam War about the time when I was born. And, then, Joe, a Navy officer whose office was an F-14 TomCat (If you’re not sure what that is, go rent the movie Top Gun). By this time, the coffee pot was low and we’d be getting a call from one of my nephews whose location is always undisclosed as he serves our country overseas.
But, my Dad can’t tell those stories as well anymore because he is suffering from dementia. And to be honest, it’s heartbreaking to see your big football player of a Dad deteriorate.
But I’m going to try my hand at continuing his legacy through storytelling .
So after we’re done grilling out this Memorial Day with my husband and kids, we’re planning on pulling out the coffee pot after the dishes (Okay, it’s really a Kuerig at our house but we’ll figure it out). Probably put out a slice of pecan pie just for him and reminisce in his honor so that our children can do this for us someday.