I enjoy engaging in mindless activity because it lets the mind wander down curious paths. Just a little while ago I was shoveling the driveway when I started to think about my father in-law. Sheldon was a bit on the gruff side and rather opinionated as well. I started dating his daughter when she was fourteen and I married her when she was eighteen. He wasn’t terribly fond of me in those early years and now with my ability to see his perspective with the eyes of a Dad I can’t say I blame him at all.
As the years rolled on our relationship was never quite warm and fuzzy but I think that he grew to respect me as someone who loved and treated his daughter well for twenty-five plus years. Sheldon grew up in a working class home and was a veteran of the United States Navy during World War II. I grew to respect him as a hard working man who always did what he felt was right for his family but I never really inquired as to details of his life’s experience.
It has been a couple of years since he died and we miss him greatly. It was a short time after his death that my wonderful mother in-law shared with me some of his old papers and documents that he had left behind. It was only then that I started to grasp his level of service in World War II. Sheldon had piloted landing craft in the Pacific that brought troops to shore during invasions. It also appears that he involved in the invasion of Iwo Jima! I had absolutely no idea!
How I wish I has asked him about his service. He now has two grandsons serving in the military who should know this piece of family history yet it is forever gone. Sheldon deserved to have his service and sacrifice recognized yet we never gave it much of a thought. Our ignorance in asking cheated us all out of something great.
Contained within a wood and glass case in our living room we display a folded American Flag that was presented to the family by the funeral home after his services. It stands as a visual reminder of Sheldon, his sacrifice for his country and of our missed opportunity to know more.
Is there someone in your life that you should be asking questions of? Will you have an opportunity to do so tomorrow?