I was sitting in Borders the other day and I overheard this wonderful elderly lady talking to her friend over a cup of coffee. I’m a writer, so naturally, I eavesdropped on their conversation. I was instantly drawn into the most wonderful story I’ve heard in the longest time. I’m going to try to re-tell it for you here. Okay. Here we go.
We heard it on the radio. About the war ending. I was playing with my makeup in the bathroom and i didn’t understand why my father jumped out of his big easy chair and started shouting like a mad man. He was always in that easy chair. If I wanted to talk to him, I would sit on the arm of that chair and I’d still feel as if I was a room away from Daddy. I knew the news about the war was huge for him because he jumped up for a reason other than to get a beer or to go upstairs or something. I could remember clutching my compact. I was so afraid when he started crying. My mom came in and he swept her up in a hug. They started dancing around the living room.
I can still remember my mother shrieking with happiness when my father told her the war was over. She started crying to, and in true Clark Gable style, he leaned in and kissed my mother until she was weak in the knees. My father shouted about beer after that and a lot of people came over to have dinner that night. To celebrate, I guess.
I didn’t realize the significance of the war ending until a year later when my brother came home. Oh my lord, we had such a party that day! My father went to the store to pick up the finest beer that he could find. We went to the pier in our best Sunday clothes. I was so nervous since i was a little girl when my brother left. People used to tell us how lucky he was to have survived the war. There were so many people who lost loved ones. God must have really had a look out for my brother, they used to say. I didn’t know if he would recognize me, so like I said. I was really nervous. There wasn’t any reason to be. When we got to the pier, my god, there were so many people! Everyone was cheering and dancing. Children were hoisted on broad shoulders and streamers were already launched into the air. The ship had just docked when we arrived.
My father was preening like a proud bird. He wouldn’t stop telling everyone about my brother. My mom was wringing wrinkles into the skirt of her dress. I stood their patiently. I had started dating Henry, then. I told him I was going to pick up my brother at the pier and he was a little agitated that I couldn’t spend the day with him. After Henry and I were married though, he joked with my brother about that day.
When my brother came down the plank, he spotted us immediately. I knew there was something different about him just by seeing him across a distance. The noise was so loud, the party was just swelling around us with pride and happiness. My brother jogged down the rest of the plank and he grabbed my mother by her waist. He lifted her high off the ground and twirled her until she shrieked with laughter and tears. my father cried that day, too. He enveloped my brother in the biggest bear hug he could manage and he thudded him on the back for what seemed like a half hour.
We came back to the house and had a glorious party. There was dancing, and singing. People listened to my brother when he spoke about the war. Their mouth’s dropped in awe, their eyes widened in delight, and some of the women gripped the sleeves of their husbands, curling their fingers into the flannel fabric in fear. My mother was no different. She was just as afraid, horrified that her boy was thrust into such a violent world. But she was proud, too. And until my parents died, they remained proud my brother. Their memories faded over the years, but I tell you, they never forgot that day at the pier when my brother came down that plank and twirled my mother in the air. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it either.”
Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!