Soon my parents will be visiting from New England. They will spend a few days with me, then a few days with my brother who lives about 20 minutes away. The visit has become an annual event since my return from living overseas, not counting the year of Dad’s major heart surgery.
My mother and father are 83 and 88 years old, respectively.
I’m looking forward to my Dad’s stories. He has a lot of them, though they tend to be repeated often so it seems like more. Some relate to current activities but more and more they are reiterations of stories from long ago. I’m trying to capture as many of them as possible while I still have the chance to share his company.
A favorite story of his can be triggered just by mentioning my European travels. My Dad has been to Europe twice in his life. The second time was in 2010 when I flew him and my Mom over to Dublin and I drove us around a wet Ireland for a week. The only other time was “during the war” (i.e., World War II).
I was in France during the war.”
“What part of France, Dad?”
“Uh, I don’t know. We took a boat over and were crammed into boxcars all the way through France into some place in Germany. I was a cook by then, you know.
The story would go on to describe the long days baking bread, making tons of mashed potatoes, and feeding a bunch of hungry soldiers. Invariably it would lead to the Russians.
Those Russians were crazy. We would be on night patrol and hear gunshots in the nearby Russian sector. It was the same every night – they would drink too much vodka, get into fights, and start shooting leaves off the trees. They missed a lot.
The Russians were Soviets, of course. We were on the same side, more or less, during the war, before the Cold War changed our relationship for the worse. The Soviet Union has since split up; Russia releasing its coerced companions into independence (or semi-independence, given the corrupt politics in several of the “-stan” states).
Other Dad stories recalled his brother surviving a plane crash upon returning from the war, his own farmer father, and his time laying dynamite at Boston Light. There would be the invariable corny joke or two.
I love Dad’s stories and I can’t wait to hear them again.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (Fall River Press) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is about Thomas Edison, due in Barnes and Noble stores in 2016.