On this special day of remembrance I want to relate a brief note about my cousin – I’ll leave even his first name out of this because he could probably be identified by someone given the rest of the story.
He was briefly an American volunteer in the RAF so he was there for The Battle of Britain. He switched to the U.S. Army when we got involved in World War II so he spent a lot of time in England.
Over the decades he has shared some stories with me although I never asked because I didn’t want to bring up any memories he didn’t want to share. I tried to be a good listener without prying – it is easy to see that at times he is still the young man parachuting into Normandy on D-Day and the weary old man who was in the Battle of the Bulge.
My cousin came home with a British wife and son, along with a number of bronze stars – I never asked so I don’t know for certain he was never physically wounded but there was no mention of a purple heart in his papers so I doubt he had any serious physical injuries.
He did get several field promotions quickly followed by demotions. He was never a big fan of General Patton and made his opinion known at every opportunity.
I think of him often because he strolled in and out of my life every few years since as early as I can remember but I think of him today especially.
If you knew him you got used to him disappearing in the middle of the night and not seeing him again for a year. Financially he was well enough off that he was never lacking and always had at least one home.
A few years ago he came to stay with us for a few months and we were prepared to make this his home but he was always restless, never able to stay in one place for long.
Also, although he grew up around here, after years of living in the south he could never seem to get warm here even in the Summer so eventually I got him on a plane to the west coast where his aunt of about the same age could help out – he stayed with her in a much warmer climate than here in Central PA until both had to move to assisted living – that must have been a big blow to him.
On his way up north to live with us he was several days late arriving.
He had stopped at a motel in what turned out to be a bad part of town. He was in his late 70’s at the time and had walked with a cane for many years.
As he was walking his toy dog across the parking lot he was mugged by a teenager with a big attitude and a small knife.
More precisely, someone tried to steal his money.
My cousin ended up with a number of minor scrapes and cuts and this delayed him a few days while he rested up.
The police had little trouble finding the tough who picked on this frail old man because he had a badly broken nose (a cane can do more than help you walk) and a number of other injuries. He wasn’t walking too well either.
The war changed my cousin’s life in many ways, some good, some bad, but it never left him.
I am certain it is with him still today.