February 1, 2015

It is interesting the things you find about someone else's life after they pass.

We were looking through things my brother had rescued from the attic a couple years ago. Some were pictures that we were going through to send to the funeral home. At one point, he held up a picture and said “That’s you.” It was my first grade picture where my teacher had combed my hair the wrong way.

He looked at another and told me that he did not know who it was. I told him that it was Dad. He had had long blonde hair until he was about 13. Then it turned dark. I remember seeing that after my grandfather passed. I was about 13 or 14 at the time. He wasn’t sure about showing it to me as I had wanted to let my hair grow a little longer and here was a picture of him just like that.

My brother had found some boxes with things my Dad had written during World War 2. At one point he had been in a fox hole surrounded by Germans. Since neither he nor Mom talked about their earlier lives, neither of us knew much about them. Apparently my Dad had nightmares of the war up until a couple years ago. And back in those days, they didn’t recognize things like PTSD. I never knew this, but he had told my brother.

And then he learned something from me that he did not know. My wife and I picked my Dad up from the airport when he got back from somewhere (this was some time after Mom had passed). For some reason, he was quite talkative. He told us about how he had been working as an airplane mechanic in Columbus. The army decided that instead of having these people just sit around, they would send them to school, so he attended the University of Ohio. That is where he met my mother. What she was doing there, I don’t know.

I asked him about her side of the family as I never heard anything about my other set of grandparents. He told me that her mother, my grandmother, had been murdered. He also said that her father also died and that it was ruled a suicide, although my mother never believed it (and not having CSI back then, there was no way to find out). She was maybe 18 years old with her sister that was a couple years younger and her brother that was about seven. Both she and her sister raised their brother.

My brother remembered there being this dog at one point, and that it died. He didn’t know how, and figured that they were so broken up over it that they never got another dog. I was always told the story of how it got up into a bird’s nest under this big rosebush they had, that the bird pecked out its eyes. Now my brother never heard that story. My Dad loved dogs, and enjoyed ours when we visited. But they never had another.

Again, it is amazing the things you find out, and even how one child knows different things from the other. Between the two of us, we pieced together a lot.