I called him "Grandpa" Lindell, because Lindell Alvin Parrott was my grandmother's second husband the whole time I knew him.
What else did I know about him? He loved having my sister Jane comb his hair as he read the newspaper. He was a gardener, and he made birdhouses to put around his yard. He enjoyed square-dancing with Grandma. He had been a professional painter, house painter that is. A meticulous person about his things, in their basement he kept small baby food jars with nails and screws all sorted by size and type. He used leftover paint to paint each of the concrete blocks a different color.
I also knew that he loved us.
After my grandmother died, my sisters and I cleaned out her house in preparation for selling it. That's when I learned about Lindell's past as a war hero. In his own words, he wrote,
For the last year of my Navy life until the end of the war, the USS Franklin, a new aircraft carrier, was my shop and my home. (On March 19, 1945, a Japanese plane...dropped a bomb on our quarter deck.) There were nearly 1000 killed or burned or drowned in our compartments. Many of them I knew personally, and everywhere you went there were bodies. It was hard to tell for several hours if (the Franklin) was going to sink....All the suffering and death I'll never forget as I realize how easily it could have been myself.
I thank God that my life was spared.
Until I found what Grandpa had written, I knew nothing of his life in the service. So many who have served don't speak of their time in uniform. Grandpa didn't. It was only after his death that I learned the ship was saved because another ship rammed into the side of the sinking Franklin. I guess the nose of the ships are the most strongly constructed. The second ship literally held the Franklin up until help could arrive.
Today, we should all thank God for those who have served our nation. And I will add a plea to my prayers, "Dear God, please help our nation to find its way out of this situation in Iraq. Bless those who serve in every capacity. Give them judgement, clarity of thought, courage and most of all compassion. Because only with compassion can we begin to heal."
(As I was writing this, a ruby-throated hummingbird came to my office window and hovered. I'd like to think Grandpa sent it!)