…That’s what dad said after both his parents had died. On one level, I understood what he meant. But now, since the passing of mom, I have a much more poignant understanding of what he was trying to say. Dad – being a New Englander – was a man of few words. You might think he was distant – but his appreciation of silence was more an acknowledgement of the intimacy of the moment.
A gentle and kind man, dad suffered through and survived one of the most difficult theaters of WWII – the Pacific. As part of the first infantry unit that landed at Guadalcanal, he experienced a kind of loss that few of us have known. While he did not talk about his wartime experiences (except to recount a few humorous moments), in casual conversation, he revealed much more. On Saturdays when we were not skeet shooting, we’d often watch old war movies (the black and white ones that are no longer shown on TV) or we’d go to movies like The Bridge Over The River Kwai or Sink The Bismarck. On one of those outings, he told me that his rifle had a fixed bayonet. That was a chilling commentary about his reality during the war — that’s how personal war was. And it certainly explains why in his later years, his friendships with those in the Americal Division were so important to him.
When mom joined dad in their forever crypt last month, in addition to a very profound sense of loss, I feel the loneliness of being an adult. The two people whom I’ve known all my life; with whom I experienced so much, and who witnessed my birth are no longer here. I’m an orphan now.