Thursday, June 18, 2009

Waterloo Day...

The other day in June that's one of the "handful of days since the beginning of time on which the direction the world was taking has been changed for the better in one 24-hour period by an act of man", as Andy Rooney said about June 6.

And this morning, I read an awfully sweet and sad piece that speaks to the other thing wars do, all of them.

"It has been many years since my grandmother, affectionately known as Nanny, has passed on, but I am reminded of something this morning, as I read an article posted by W of Merde In France. (Scroll down to "One day this war will end", prepare to be angry)

A lot of my family on Mom's side still speak French, as do I, minimally. It was my mother's cradle language, although she denies still being able to use it. That side of the family came from France in the distant past via Quebec.

A few years back, I was going through a pile of antique photographs from the early part of the century. There were pictures of Nanny working in a New England textile mill in Fall River, Massachussets, and also a lot of pictures of my grandfather, Thomas, who, by all accounts, was an excellent decent man. Since the accolades are universal, I tend to believe them, but I never had the honor of meeting Thomas, as he died well before I was born. Thomas did seem to have a dour, Yankee seriousness about him.

Nanny had long and eventful live. She worked in textile mills, was an actress of local notoriety, and had married a little late for the times, going on to raise five children. All the photos from this time in her life show a woman who is satisfied with her life, and proud of what she was doing with it.

There are another set of photos, whoever. They feature a 19 or 20 year old Nanny with a young man, who is not Thomas. There are not many of these photos, but in each and every one of them, Nanny is absolutely radiant, and in love. There can be no doubt that she is a very happy human being.

Booya for you, Nanny, score one for the pursuit of happiness.

The last photo is of this young man, whose name is lost to us, in a doughboy uniform.

The reason he is not my grandfather, and the reason the subsequent photos of my grandmother lack the radiant joy, is that he died a horrible, lingering death of lungs blistered by mustard gas.

His grave is in France.

Today I have to try the first case I've ever had that is too terrible to describe, even for me.

I've often said about war that the politicians who make them, who decide that they are worth that young man and that radiant girl's futures, should die first in those great sacrifices.

The same thing for the policies that make so much of the constant war I'm a REMF in happen. The Representatives and Senators and Governors ought to have to send their little six year olds to the State schools. They ought to have to live within a hundred yards of a housing project.

But anyway, that's another rant for another day.

For today, I remember Henry Buck and John Delicate. Thank you.

No comments: