Featured Grownups asked us to write about memorial day this month. This is a re-run, but I don’t know how I could say it differently.

They say between 1100 and 1800 World War II veterans die each day. My very own personal veteran died March 11, 2009. He was born in 1918, a year when lots of people died of the influenza. He was an only child, but according to all accounts he got into enough trouble for several kids.

He told how he had to ride a horse three miles to school for eight years. He had figured out it was over 10,000 miles. One of his horses would eat sandwiches on the way home. Grandpa made it all the way through high school, which was an accomplishment for the son of a man with a third grade education. I suppose Great Grandma maybe had an eighth grade education.

He was married a year before he got called up in 1942. After Basic Training Grandma went to join him in California before he shipped off. She came home on the train pregnant with my father. Grandpa couldn’t write to Grandma what theater he was in, but he managed to send her some fabric from Hawaii, so she would know he was headed to Asia. It must have been a lot of fabric because I have seen it in several of her quilts.

Grandpa came home from the war to a son who had been living like a king, trading every month which set of grandparents spoiled him he lived with. (My grandparents grew up on adjacent places, although several miles apart.) Dad did pretty well for himself the first 22 months of his life. Things changed though when his father arrived on the scene.

My grandparents had three sons and six grandchildren. Of those nine descendents, only three of us did not serve in the military.

I am the oldest grandchild at 38, the youngest is 21. I think I had a different grandfather than the younger ones did. Aside from age mellowing him, I think Grandpa started telling stories more often after I was gone. I got to hear plenty when I was back, but by then I wasn’t around as often as the younger bunch.

I won’t regale you with his tales, but he bought a Model T for $5 in 1925, and that gave him the freedom to get into all nature of teenaged trouble.

He didn’t talk much about being in the war to us kids, but the house was decorated with such items as bullet shells made into salt and pepper shakers and ash trays. He was a cook in the Marines and he did tell us he shaved with coconut milk. I am not sure whether he even saw any action. He did tell his military stories to different people and they have been written down for posterity. I need to ask for a copy.

I remember sitting at the kitchen bar with him watching Grandma make giraffe pancakes for me. He taught me how to tie my shoes when I was five. He was kinda gruff, he didn’t mind hugging me as a greeting but he wouldn’t do much more than that. He had a toothbrush with a naked lady on it he kept in the bathroom.

He and Grandma managed to surprise me twice when I was moving. The most recent time they hopped into the car and drove five hours and found our place in the country with no directions, or even a “heads up” call. I was in the middle of unpacking the kitchen. He would have been about 78 then.

Grandma is pretty feeble and has some dementia problems, but she is still living at home. Family members have been taking turns staying with her since Grandpa got sick last week, and last now it is my turn. I spent some time this morning doing a load of laundry and wiping up some grimy spots on the walls.

BTW you don’t want to find a bottle of something called “Hot Sex” in your grandma’s fridge. I don’t even have that in my fridge. I think I am gonna have a sample before I go to bed.

**EDIT**  It tastes kinda like a white Russian or Baily’s and Cream.

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