He didn’t serve in a war, though intimately touched by it the same. His eyes saw nothing short of a brave hero when from the service to home his brother safely came. His brother not meant to reach an old age as my Grandfather would be able to do. A car accident was the catalyst for his brother’s time on Earth to be through.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember a verbal conversation with my Grandpa about Uncle Charlie. My only knowledge is from my mom and a few sentences my Grandma wrote as part of my grandparents’ history. I remember as a little girl running my fingers across the most beautiful blue silk tucked safely in a hope chest. It was a gift from my Uncle Charlie to my mom he had brought home from the service. If my memory has not re-written the actuality, I believe this silk came from Japan – or at least I think.
Knowing my Grandpa was compassionate, humble, giving, and so very quiet in that strong way, I ponder how much influence my Uncle’s death had in shaping who my Grandpa became. A builder – one of the many ways my Grandpa served others in his community; I fortunate to now have his school supply box to hold in my safe keep. This my gift from my mom on the first day I began the journey of earning a college master’s degree. This school supply box used by one of the smartest and wisest men I knew who a high school diploma he never received.
I reflect if how well my Grandpa took care of his family was from the moment his childhood family became incomplete. Perhaps in that moment my Uncle Charlie left Earth my Grandpa’s embraced family as everything. Perhaps his brother’s vow to serve his country was the seed planted in my Grandpa to serve those in need. Or maybe my Uncle’s honor and dignity were the avenues that fueled my Grandpa’s respect and humility.
On this day in the U.S.A. when service men and women are remembered, honored, and paid tribute to, I think of my Grandpa and his brother and the bond they knew. My Uncle left Earth, but I anticipate it did not end his influence on every step of life my Grandpa would take. If anything, I believe it only deepened how much he taught my Grandpa after an angel above my uncle became. And once again I am reminded of the purpose of life’s ebbs and undertows. That loss and sorrow are part of the gifts that help us grow.
I don’t know in what ways my Grandpa may have been a different man if my Uncle had stayed on Earth until together they both reached their eighties in age. A piece of my heart believes my Grandpa would be the same person he became given there is no separation from those we love through space. Another piece of my heart knows my Grandpa faced a crossroads in the choice he could make. In that moment he heard I’m sorry to tell you, my Grandpa could have closed his heart and thought life too harsh to embrace. Instead, he chose to live as my uncle, serving mankind with honor and grace. The purpose of sorrow, the gift of tragedy. It deepens our love, if we choose to see its blessings.
Uncle Charlie, I did not have the honor of knowing you much more than your name and that your life on Earth ended much too soon in the eyes of those who loved you dearly. Thank you for your courageous service to our country. Thank you, too, for the legacy you passed on to my Grandpa, for he in turn passed on so much goodness to his immediate family. Many lives my Grandpa touched because he had you as his brother showing him the way. As you watch over all of us, may you see just what a positive impact your life made.