***For this one day only, I am forgoing my usual fictitious tale in favour of a story about my Granddad***
Let me ask you something…
We all have days where we hate our jobs, but have you ever despised yours enough to say “Screw this place! I’d rather take my chances fighting Hitler than work in this hole another day!”? I ask because that’s what my Granddad did.
He hated his job at the Heinz tomato factory in Leamington, Ontario so much that he just up and quit, and then went down to the local recruiting office and signed up to serve in World War II. No consultation with Grandma beforehand, no thoughts of what it might mean to their children should he be killed, or even how bad a bottle of catsup really was in comparison to a crazy man who was hell bent on wiping out an entire race. My family has never been very good at handling workplace stress, but Granddad took his anger management issues to a whole other level that day.
With a quick goodbye to Grandma and their wee ones, Granddad was off to Europe. Being from the stoic generation that he was, Granddad never talked about the war once he returned home. I heard others whispering about Italy, Africa and England. There was a rumour about him barely pulling out of a supply depot before the jeep behind his got blown to bits by a hidden grenade. And a story about Grandma needing major surgery during his deployment and having to decide how to split up the children should she die while on the operating table. Both Grandma and Granddad lived to see the end of the war, but the same couldn’t be said for two of their six children. They were taken by their own illnesses.
On this Remembrance Day, I think about how brave Granddad was to take on the Nazis…and to risk the wrath of Grandma the day he told her that he was leaving her home alone with six kids. I also think about how brave Grandma was to handle the burden on the home front all on her own. She was a tiny little thing, my Grandma. She was barely five feet tall and weighed maybe only 110 pounds, but she was just as tough as any soldier. Tough enough to bare the loss of her two youngest ones, tough enough to withstand a serious health scare, and tough enough to keep her own anger check when she heard about her husband’s sudden aversion to tomatoes.
God bless everyone who has served their country, those who continue to serve, and their families.