Monday, May 25, 2015

My Memorial Day thoughts...

This may well be one of the very first times I've created a strictly personal blog post, but here goes...

Though I rarely celebrate a holiday, mainly due to the fact that most of them are part of a religious belief system, I do always remember those I've lost in my life on this holiday. But here's the thing--I remember those people who were closest to me and meant so much to me EVERY SINGLE DAY! I don't need this one day each year to do that since each of these people imprinted themselves upon my soul in so many ways. 

Though he said they were black,
this is what I envision.
However, in reminiscing about veterans, I do have a person I can honor, even if it is posthumously. That would be my former father-in-law, "Goob." He served in World War II in the Pacific theater, most of his stories dealt with the time he was posted in New Guinea. Just the different climate and thereby varied insects and plant-life made for many recollections that he would occasionally speak about to the rest of us. One of those stories will stick with me throughout my lifetime. It dealt with spiders. Not just spiders as most of us think of them, these were real-life HUMONGOUS VERY HAIRY spiders. As Goob demonstrated,
when he held one in his hand, the body was
This is about the size, I imagine. BTW, this is a scientist
holding a model!
large enough to more than fill his palm, 
with the legs hanging down...and they 
were very hairy! YUCK!! 
However, as he explained, the soldiers never chased them away, but worked to live with them amicably since they would kill other deadly and annoying insects, enabling more peaceful sleep. These spiders would make their webbed homes in the top of the tents and "stand guard" over the soldiers, as it were!

He was a mild-mannered soft-spoken individual who was quite content to work in the background and never seek recognition for himself. The bulk of work he performed during World War II dealt with breaking codes and repairing communication equipment. He could dismantle virtually any machine, diagnose why it would not work, obtain replacement parts, rebuild it, and it would work again! His talents in this area appeared to be limitless! I never will forget the third time (within a 12-month period) he had to work on my stand mixer, and he finally admitted defeat, stating, "Sis, you're just gonna have to buy an all-metal mixer, a commercial grade one, 'cause you just use 'em too much. These newer ones mainly have plastic parts and they aren't made for the amount of use you give 'em!" Then he laughed, 'cause he knew he was one of the biggest fans of my baked goods--cookies, cakes, pies, you name it--he always stopped by and critiqued them least once, depending upon how well he liked them! (He had been known to stop by the house 2-3 times per day for coffee and a treat!) The greatest compliment he could ever give you about something you cooked was, "That's almost as good as my mother made." There were only two things I made that received that highest accolade, molasses cookies and pies. And he even told me once that he thought the molasses cookies might even be a bit better than what his mother used to make! :) I knew I had arrived when he told me that, rather than his typical evaluation of "It'll eat," followed by a chuckle. I had a lot of respect for this man. He did not gush or gloat, but seemed to appreciate each day and plodded through each one... He never rushed and he was never "in a hurry," but he was always there if you needed him. 

This one man fixed more furnaces, air-conditioning units, refrigerators, washers, and dryers in his local community than probably any one man before or since! And if someone couldn't pay him, he would barter or take payments, whatever... He was truly kind and generous...perhaps to a fault at times, but I would rather a person be overly generous than stingy. His wife belonged to a very small local church and he kept the absolutely ancient furnace running in that building. He would even check on it very early (3-4AM) on Sunday mornings and turn it up so it would be warm for Sunday services. He never felt the need to attend church himself, but he would enable others to attend in comfort. I never did know what his spiritual beliefs were, and as usually happens, I wish I'd spent more time truly communicating with and getting to know this man who was the closest thing I had to a father, particularly in the wake of my one and only uncle's death. 

Goob endured much during his wartime service and in the aftermath. His health suffered from the diseases to which he was exposed during his military service and those that lingered with him throughout the remainder of his lifetime. But he never complained or criticized his plight, he just went through life with a positive attitude and a smile. Though he did like to grumble and mumble at times, it seemed as if he mainly did this to amuse himself...and others! I believe he wanted others to believe he was a "grumpy old man," when he truly was not. He had the most infectious chuckle! 

He and my former mother-in-law were two of the most unique individuals I've ever known, and they had one of the most unique marital relationships I've witnessed. These two people loved to bicker with each other more than anything. I began to realize this was evidently their idea of "loving communication." They remained married throughout their entire adult lives, and although I respect that immensely, I often wondered just how happy each of them was in the marriage. Though they were evidently happy enough...and I don't believe either of them would have ever seriously considered divorce; that just wasn't in their realm of possibility. I never will forget her stating to me that she was so glad Goob wasn't alive to witness my own divorce from her son. I personally believe she may well have underestimated her husband's ability to understand my own marital relationship, but we will never know...perhaps she was right and it would have broken his heart. I hope not...and I hope he knew how much I really loved him. I feel he must know that my three sons all inherited mechanical skills working with their hands from him. Every time they create or remodel something in their own house or repair a vehicle, I know he knows that he lives on...


  1. Thank goodness I double checked the caption on the photo as I thought the black spider was real on quick glance!

    1. I know, right? Though the soldiers would hold them on their hand like this on occasion, according to Goob! Gives me the shivers just thinking about it! But those guys were smart enough to figure out these giant arachnids were a good thing for them overall by eating mosquitoes, etc. I can't imagine living like that, nor returning to "civilization" afterward. Thanks for stopping by!