Sophie Says: Memory of the heart

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A Winters Express opinion column

Gramps says
Every family was directly affected by World War II. I had several uncles who served overseas. Two of my father’s brothers, Uncle Jessie and Uncle Russ fought their way from Normandy all the way into Germany before Uncle Russ was wounded and sent home. They celebrated the Christmas of 1944 in a foxhole.

My mother’s brother, Uncle Reed was inducted into service right out of high school, sent to Fort Sill for basic training, and shipped to the Pacific Theater. He sent a letter to his mother that read, “From our ship, I can see and hear the battle. I want to inform you that I took out a life insurance policy that was offered by the Red Cross.” Grandmother collected on that insurance policy.

My father was drafted but was deferred because my mother was so ill. He was required to work in a defense-related job and he delivered fuel to Hill Air Force base. He made friends with some of the pilots and on several occasions, our house was buzzed by B-24 and B-17 bombers. That was quite a site for a 7 or 8-year-old boy and his friends.

Families were affected in other ways. I recall that the most guarded ration coupon was for gasoline. Many mothers with meager substances were left to manage their households and care for their children while their husbands were at war.

One snowy Christmas Eve my father arrived at our home in a company-owned van truck. He opened the back door of the truck and lifted me up to see many colorfully wrapped packages, a few tri-cycles, a baby carriage and a few other sundry items. He announced, “Gerald, put on your galoshes, mittens and ear muffs. You are going to help me deliver some Christmas presents.”

One memory stands out above the rest of that evening. The mother who opened the door was holding a baby in her arms. A shy little girl was holding onto her mother’s dress and was peeking from behind her to see who was at the door. The mother looked directly at me and with tear-glistened eyes said, “Thank you so much.” The sincerity and tenderness with which those words were spoken have never left me.

Sophie says
My Christmas wish to you is that should you shed any tears they will be tears of thankfulness and joy.

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