Both my grandfathers passed away many years ago, long before I ever met my husband or had M. I was closer to my maternal grandfather, since he and my Nana spent summers at their cottage, just down the road from ours. But I saw my father’s parents regularly, especially when I was a teenager and my family lived in the same city, as my grandparents. I found it fascinating that my paternal grandfather did almost all the cooking at their house. Occasionally my grandmother would make a jelly salad for supper or sandwiches, but my grandfather was definitely the cook in that household. I don’t think I ever saw my mother’s father do anything in the kitchen, besides eat – the kitchen was definitely Nana’s territory. My grandfather was usually out in the garage or in the basement; at the cottage, he could usually be found puttering around in his tool shed.
Although I have fond memories of both my grandfathers, I don’t think about them on a regular basis. Both of them served in World War I . And today, like November 11 every year, they have both been in my thoughts all day.
I don’t actually know what either of my grandfathers did in WWI. I know they were both in Europe. I think one of them was a stretcher bearer, which knowing even a little about WWI battle conditions, must have been a terrible experience. They came back from Europe, went to work, married and raised families. Like most veterans of that era, neither of them discussed their war-time experiences. I remember my father’s father once brought out a several items that he had brought back with him to show my brothers and m, including a German helmet that had a hole shot through it. I wondered at the time how my grandfather came to possess the helmet, but I was too afraid to ask. Some things are better left unsaid.
I was very fortunate to have known both my grandfathers. They, with my grandmothers, formed the foundation of my childhood. I would look at them and know where I had come from. Today, as I listened to the ceremony on the radio, I thought about both of them. I went downstairs to see M, who was playing in the back room and gave him a hug and a kiss. He will never know his great grandfathers. Hopefully, he will never know the horror and chaos of war. I do hope that as he gets older, he remembers where he came from. He has a lot to be proud of.