Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nobody Will Ever Impress Me More Than These Guys

A group of men. The youngest is 83, the oldest is 93. They are the men of my dad's World War II battalion. There are 9 left.

Every year for the last 25 or so, the men have had a reunion. Way back when there were so many of them that it took a few minutes to organize them for the group photo. They and their wives and sometimes a kid or two and very rarely, a grandchild, would gather in a hotel for 3 days to check in with one another. It used to be that each year they'd go somewhere different. A city with some history to it, where they could explore and sightsee. Like Charleston, South Carolina to see Fort Sumter. But nobody is much able to get around to do the sightseeing anymore, so they've been meeting for the last 3 years in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, at a motel. This is because Charlie, the old guy in charge, always gets drafted to be in charge again for the next reunion and he lives near there. Charlie drives a Corvette. Or he used to. Now his daughter drives him there, in his bright blue Corvette, with its handicap license plate. You don't see that combo very often.

My sister and I started taking our parents to the reunion 4 years ago, when they stopped feeling up to making the trip on their own. It's time to go again, on Wednesday.

I don't want to get all sappy and make anybody puke, especially my own bad self, but it is an absolute killer to watch these guys stand up, or sit at attention in their wheelchairs, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It gives me goosebumps. They do it every evening when they gather in the meeting room to visit. The wives sit together and talk a great deal about various medical problems. Not their own...mostly those of their men. Sometimes they talk about how little they know of what happened mentally to their husbands during their time at war.

In the case of my own father, there are numerous pieces of circumstantial evidence suggesting that while he served as the scout for the battalion, he was captured by the enemy. Years back when my mom told me this, I said "What? What do you mean you're not sure?!" To which she replied: "He never told me, and I never asked." And now that he has Alzheimers, he doesn't have any memories of it. It's lost. And I think I'm glad it's lost. Although I wish he wasn't.

So that's where I'll be for the next 3 days. My sister and I are the youngsters there, and when one of the women starts going to town on her portable keyboard, we dance with the old guys who have lost their wives. Charlie, the Corvette owner, always makes the same joke: You girls remember, old wood catches fire quicker than green.

My mom says men "don't stop thinking about those wieners of theirs until they're dead."


  • At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a wonderful piece, Candy. I honor those men.

  • At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Candy, so often, your writing gives me the absolute chills. No, really. I mean that in a good way. The best way.

    This is one of those times.

  • At 9:30 PM, Blogger Ana Martin said…

    dry wood. Jeebus. Now I have to go have a bath.



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