Sidebar: Yesterday brought the sad news that Richard (Dick) Winters, a brave, good, humble, and inspiring man, passed away. A true hero, admired by many, he was the leader of Easy Company of the 101 Airborne during World War II, a company immortalized by the book/miniseries Band of Brothers (Winters himself was brilliantly portrayed by Damian Lewis in that miniseries). He was 92. My grandfather, who served on the aircraft carrier Bonne Homme Richard in the Pacific theatre of that same war, is also 92 (he'll be 93 in June). I am vividly reminded not only of each man's faithful service, but how unbelievable lucky I am to still be able to call my grandfather and have the following conversation, no matter how much I may have wanted to reach through the phone line and swat him upside the head at the time.
Kiersten: Hi Dad-dad.
Dad-dad: Hey! How you doing?
K: OK. Happy Veteran's Day. Do we say that, Happy Veteran's Day? Seems odd.
DD: [chuckling] Yeah.
K: Well, I wanted to thank you for your service to our country.
K: I love that story you told me. You know, the one when you landed, was it in San Francisco? I tell it all the time.
DD: Yeah, we came back to San Francisco.
K: I thought so. I love that story.
DD: What story?
K: How a sailor came down into the ship to tell you that your brother was on deck and when you went topside, it was Uncle Henry.
DD: Henry's your Mom-mom's brother, not mine.
K: [patiently] I know that. But the sailor called him your brother. And then the two of you then went off and bought Aunt Vera's engagement ring. I love that story. Two sailors returning from war and buying an engagement ring.
DD: That never happened.
K: [shrieking] What?
DD: You made that up.
K: No I didn't. You told me about it a few years ago.
DD: No I didn't.
K: You did!
DD: Nah, you made that up.
K: [offended] I did not!
DD: Yeah you did. I'll bet you made that up when you were little.
K: It was two years ago! YOU told me about it.
DD: No I didn't.
K: You did. I can still see it. It was two or three years ago and we were sitting in your living room and you told me all about it.
DD: [laughing] Never happened.
K: You wretch! I can't believe this! I love that story! I pictured you coming up on deck and seeing Henry there and then going off to get the ring together - I wrote about the damn thing on my blog today!
DD: What is that? A blog?
K: It's an online journal. You know this already because I've told you. Don't try to distract me, old man. You lied to me!
DD: Nah, I didn't lie. You made it up.
K: I tell that story all the time! You just made me a liar to, well, a bunch of people! So Henry never came to the ship then?
DD: Nah, Henry wasn't on the ship. Dick was on Paradise Island, though.
K: Uncle Dick was? Where's Paradise Island?
DD: Marine base by San Francisco. He didn't come to the ship, but he called me and got me a pass. I went up there for about two hours with Dick.
K: [confused] Where was Uncle Henry?
DD: Oh, he was in a donut shop. I don't know how I knew he was there, but I walked in and there he was.
K: You told me he was in an officer's club drinking a root beer or something.
DD: Nah, he wasn't an officer. He was in a donut shop.
K: And that's when you went and got Vera's ring?
DD: We didn't get any ring. They were married a while before we left.
K: None of it happened?! You are freaking kidding me! I am never believing anything you tell me ever again!
DD: Ha! Yeah we took a streetcar up to Porter Hill to see the Myers sisters, we'd heard about these three sisters and – well, I don't remember much more.
K: Yeah, let's not finish that one. I am shattered, wrecked that my grandfather not only lies to me, but then blames me for it! I can't believe this story that I treasured – treasured – was a complete lie you made up. And don't tell me that I did it.
K: [stunned] Unbelievable. I am totally gobsmacked. [acerbically] Gee. Thanks for your service, Dad-dad.
DD: [laughing] You're welcome, hon.