Thursday, November 10, 2011

Friday 55-A Veteran's Solace

*Today's 55 was first published 4 years ago but I'm posting it and the explanation again with a few edits.  Thank you to all who have served with honor.  It is my deepest desire that you all are at peace, that our leaders more carefully consider in which arenas you are engaged, and that those deployed may return to the arms of their family sooner rather than later.


Haunted by the beaches of Normandy,
he seeks solace in the familiar woods.
The currents in his life flow unchangeably
as the footpath beckons another way.
The breeze whispers through the treetops
like a mother soothing her child after a nightmare.
Away from the world's wickedness,
no evil molests him.
Peace descends
with falling leaves.

My maternal grandfather was drafted near the end of World War II.  He was married and had two very young children at the time.  His service was ended when he was wounded in combat and he lost part of a foot.  At times he sought solace in the woods.  At other times he sought it in alcohol.

My grandparents owned a little vacation place "in the mountains" about an hour north of where I live now. That place was Grampop's refuge. He and Nana often took my brother and me there on weekends, giving my single mother some time to herself, especially in the immediate aftermath of my parents' divorce.

On the hikes we took together, my shattered little girl heart found peace as Grampop pointed out wildlife, geographical features, and spun tales of the Lenni Lenapes who once lived in the area. Nana and I often giggled along the paths lined by wild berry bushes as we filled our caps full of the ripe fruit. When Grampop's health deteriorated to the point that he could not walk more than a short distance he sat still as a statue on the back deck, hands extended and palms up in zenlike repose, as songbirds came to take seeds from his hand. He had taught me very young how to get a chipmunk to eat from my hand but only he could coax the wild birds.

I know he was broken by the things he experienced after being drafted for WW2. I know he searched for healing in a whiskey bottle and I know people he loved suffered as a result. I know he had a need to create and dream and he suffered when he was derided for spending time on pursuits no one saw as gainful. I know he found peace in the woods and he led me to it when he took me by the hand on long walks. I know he fed my soul when he encouraged me to create and dream whether it was gainful or not.

I am grateful that he performed his duty when asked.  My mother prevented me from seeing the worst ways he grasped for peace.  I am so glad she made room for me to be exposed to the healthy ways he searched for it. 

Again, thank you to those who have served honorably.  I wish you all peace in your daily lives.


G-Man said...

I thank every veteran I know Trini
Fantastic 55 My Friend.
Enjoy your day off, some of us have to work...:P:P:P
Thanks for playing, and have a Kick Ass Week-End...G

G-Man said...

Happy Yahtzee Day as well!!

Brian Miller said...

smiles. perfect for the day tomorrow...and as a tribute to all those that have served...and gave all...nice 55....

Craig said...

Thanks for this, Michelle. It is very poignant and beautiful.

My dad served in WW2. He was in artillery, tho, so he was generally pretty far from the shooting. He didn't seem terribly scarred by what he saw in the war, but he didn't tell many 'war stories', either. . .

The Cello Strings said...

how sweet,

peace and love to those who have served and fought for freedom.

Happy Friday.

Mijayami said...

Beautiful. Thanks for honouring them with your 55.

KB said...

Perfect tribute.

Jocelyn said...

Well done.

Have you read Laura Hillenbrand's UNBROKEN?

Suldog said...

Wonderful piece. God bless your Grampop for his service to us and, in other ways, to you!

Cricket said...

that our leaders more carefully consider in which arenas you are engaged...

Mmm. Right on here. "Support the troops" does not necessarily mean "support the war" now, does it? Well, as Golly-Gee-Dub famously put it, "We don't do nuance in Texas."

You know, in contrast to what people might expect from me, over the years I've come to support both the draft and even perhaps a required period of military service. Personally, I think that would lead to less war, not more, by giving everyone a real interest in where, when, and to what purpose our troops are being deployed.

At the very least, it would prevent that divorce from reality that we have here: where wars are fought "over there" for some vague notion of "freedom." We, and our troops, deserve better.

Eric 'Bubba' Alder said...

War is hell. I'm grateful for those who've served, and still serve, even though I'm against war itself.

Maybe someday we will all wise-up and stop causing others (and ourselves) to suffer needlessly.

Kat said...

What a beautiful post. A wonderful tribute to our extraordinary veterans and to your Grampop.
Thank you for sharing it with us!

Monkey Man said...

What a wonderful and honest tribute to your grandpop. Coming home from war must be a horrible adjustment. Sad we have to send off our young to such travesty. May they be honored today.

RNSANE said...

What a beautiful post and tribute to your grandfather.

My 55 is at:

Other Mary said...

Wonderful tribute. I like that you added the background info about your grandpa. Kudos.

hedgewitch said...

A lovely short poem, serene and peaceful, and a moving story to go with it.Many have sought solace in the bottle, and while its never good, many have had far less excuse. I'm glad you knew the positive side of the situation, and had that love and teaching in your life.

Hilary said...

What a beautiful poem, post and tribute to your Grampop. Wars do damage in ways we can never guess. I'm grateful for those who sacrificed.. their lives, their safety, their families.

Dave said...

This was a nice blog Michelle. Your Grandfather was a wonderful man in his own way. It's good that you got to understand that - Dave