I grew up on stories about World War II. It was one of the ways I learned to find the humour in adversity. My father would tell stories about being sick every day he was at sea. I had no idea how dangerous his work was aboard a minesweeper was until I was older. My mother told us about the day her skirt flipped up during training, and only hinted at the anxiety involved in the task of spotting and tracking enemy aircraft.
My Auntie Yang (Eileen - long story) told us how they had to give up the relative comfort of their barn barracks to Italian POWs because they were protected by the Geneva Convention and the women driving ambulances were not. She also eventually told me about the more harrowing side of being an ambulance driver, inspiring me to learn more about women in uniform during the war.
I never knew my grandfather, Frank Nash. He served in Egypt and contracted malaria. He survived the war, but the disease weakened his heart. He died before he got to meet any of his grandchildren.
When it came to storytelling, the women of the family far outstripped the men around the dinner table. It was years later that I learned my Uncle D (Denis) served as a civilian worker in on the of ministry offices...but I still am unclear what he did. Maybe he can't say? I also didn't know much about Uncle Bernie's war in the Merchant Marine until the UK and Canadian governments finally recognized their vital service.
I appreciate and respect all those who serve, but these are the people I'm thinking about on Remembrance Day.
Who do you remember today?