Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Grandpa in India, early 1940's.

I love this photo of my grandpa. It was taken while he was in serving in World War II. He sent it via airmail to my grandma, his fiancee. The story of how they met is one that makes people go "awwww." When my grandpa was in high school, he went with a group of friends up north to a park one Saturday to hang out, grill hamburgers, and have fun. In the distance, he saw this tiny teenage girl swinging away happily on a swingset, long blonde hair flying out behind her. He asked his friends who she was, and someone knew that it was "Arlene" and that she also went to their high school.

I don't know if he talked to her that day, but Monday morning at school he hunted her down (all 5' of her) and found her by her locker. They were inseparable from that day on. They went to prom. They got engaged. And then he was sent to India during the war. She waited for him, three long years. Can you imagine? Sometimes she didn't hear from him for months, and then four letters would arrive on one day. I have all of their letters in a box, full of messages of love and hope and plans of their future together.

I can visualize my grandpa moments before the photo was taken, handing the camera to his army buddy and then carefully posing, smiling like he's plotting to make my grandma laugh. It's so carefully posed that you can tell how much he wanted to reassure her that he was happy and safe. Look at the left side of the photo - see the arrow? He drew that, pointing at the picture of her he kept with him, so she would know he was always near her. I have that photo now, too - her senior portrait, the one he kept beside his bed throughout the war. Besides that detail, I love most that he has my mother's face. He has her face, so far away in India, and she wasn't even born yet. I find that amazing.

My grandpa died in 1993, and my grandma in 2005. The night of her death, I imagined what it must have felt like for them to be together again. They had both waited for each other so many times during their lives. I pictured her breaking through into heaven as a seventeen year old, running toward him with her blonde hair flying everywhere, as he leaned against a swingset, smiling and knowing he never had to wait for her again.

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