I used to get super annoyed whenever my father-in-law would start blathering away about his army days and the war and his good buddies. There is his life before going over seas, and then there is his life after coming home. But those few years inbetween are the ones he dwells on incessantly, usually after consuming several rums. His memories are vivid. They’ve become pretty vivid for the rest of us too, after having heard them so many times. He’s hard to stop once he gets going. W. is like a little boy when it comes to this, and appears to dearly love hearing these things told to him, over and over. He is very proud of his dad, and his dad is a proud man. I suppose I need a kick in the ass for being petulant and impatient about it, since I really have no idea at all what it was like for him and what kind of an enormous impact it had on him and on his life. My daughter asked me once, “Mommy, why does grandpa ALWAYS talk about the war?” “I don’t know honey. I guess he thinks we want to hear about it.” BZZZZZ!!!! Wrong answer. Now I understand a little better. Now I know he still has horrific nightmares about the things that happened, and that by talking about them he is trying to make sense of it all. Some things defy reason, but we all have a need to look back and sort through events that shaped us into what we are today. So, I’m sorry dad. For all the barely concealed eye rolling I’ve done over the years and the sighs and the mind wandering on my part.
Because, look at me! I’m doing the same thing. Although I didn’t have any one major traumatic episode in my life that drastically changed everything (unless you count my marriage to your peculiar son as one of those), there have been phases and adventures and experiences that I feel compelled to chronicle. Sometimes when I’m writing these things I imagine my audience sighing audibly and wandering off to make a sandwich. But I’ve learned from you and I don’t let it deter me.
My sister in law was a little more blunt when she listened to his meanderings. “Dad – do you have a point? If there’s a point to this, could you please get to it?” Well, sometimes you just don’t even know yourself what the point is, let alone if you’ll ever get to it, or recognize that you’re there if you do.
Which brings me to the point of this little diatribe. Ummm….. Oh yeah, time travelling. I know I’ve been bouncing all over the place with disjointed digs into the past so that only the very brave or foolhardy can make a good guess at what decade I’m in. It’s like one of those exasperating movies that shows you the ending at the beginning and jumps back and forth and sideways all the way through so that by the time it’s over you’re so thoroughly confused you think you actually enjoyed it.
Now if this were all to make some kind of logical sense I would probably post a picture of my father-in-law in uniform and tell you some stuff about war torn Italy. So of course I’m not going to do that at all.
Instead, here’s an artist’s conception of what he may have looked like in Italy in the rain. It also mirrors the sour puss expression I am so sorry to have shown him when he was trying to enlighten me on the experience.