It seems like an odd duality really, in regards to time. Memory can do this. I’m taken back to when I was a boy sitting on my Grandparent’s front porch on Jules Street; so many years ago, but just yesterday.
My Grandpa sits on this porch and watches a world go by. He has, at this time, roughly sixty-five years of age coursing through his soul. Roughly four of those years were spent in a war overseas. Perhaps the greatest of all wars--World War II. This global conflict he spent in the European theater as he and his buddies, acquaintances, and guys he didn’t much care for, fought as Americans and as Allies in unity against a madman claiming Christ on his side.
We’d be sitting there, playing “This Car’s Mine”, a game this little boy was sure a product if his Grandfather’s genius. Occasionally, I’d point at a car I especially thought boss, and he’d reprimand me for the gesture. “Don’t be doin’ that,” he’d say sternly. Being a little boy, such speech glanced off of me in immature bewilderment. The car game would get old and some time would pass in silence. My attention would be drawn to the busyness of some ant hill, or wasps tending to their little mud or paper homes. Eventually, the question would come: “Grandpa, what did you do in the war?”
Not looking at me, he’d respond something like, “Oh, fought Germans mostly.” I didn’t know much about the great war at that age, but I knew there was D-Day, and had heard of something called Battle of the Bulge. These are battles I had either heard about on television, or read about in the encyclopedia. Never had I heard about them first hand from my Grandfather. Whenever asked about the great and terrible World War II, all he ever gave in response were vagueries.
But there was always the stare. There were the numerous, indeed countless times when, not distracted by wasps, ants, or cars, that this little boy would catch a shiver rifle through his Grandfather’s world weary frame, or see a wince disfigure his face locked in tight on that middle distant stare. Of course, nothing was thought of it then. That little boy was a typical one. But the odd duality serves for perception. Now this boy who grew into a man with roughly 40 years coursing through his soul sees those shivers, those winces from what seems as yesterday and perceives them as the coldest **** nights ever spent in a supply strapped forest in the middle of a French winter; or the times he dove for cover trying to not be ripped to shreds from shrapnel of an incoming mortar shell or enemy rifle fire; or the time he took some kind of hit to his face which earned him a Purple Heart. I see the middle distant stare, and I see what gravity is all about.
Let’s play “This Car’s Mine”--
A vet on Jules street.