My Dad, My Mom, My Brother And The War

Watson Family photoMy mom was a saver. When I was cleaning out the attic of her home a few years after she died, I discovered a six-decade accumulation of boxes of letters, photos and other memorabilia.

I finally found time to begin sorting through things this past summer. There were hundreds of letters my father wrote to her during their courtship and after their marriage while he was serving in the Navy during World War II.

It occurred to me that the editor of the local newspaper in the town where I grew up might consider featuring the military-service aspect of my parents’ lives in the paper’s Veterans Day feature — photos, documents, and excerpts from some of my father’s letters.

Of special interest is a touching poem my dad wrote about my brother, their first-born, and the pain of separation between father and son.

The newspaper did indeed create a Veterans Day tribute.

What does this have to do with grammar, the usual topic of this column?

The writing and penmanship skills my forbears began learning in a one-room country school created a foundation that served them well throughout their lives.

I found letters from my uncles as well, all of whom served during that war. One wrote about the horror of being among Allied troops landing on Normandy Beach on the infamous D-Day in June 1944. He was lucky to survive.

They all had a mastery of language — words and punctuation — and exquisite handwriting. Many letters describing their loneliness and longing for family brought me to tears.

How grateful I am that my family members had the skills to so eloquently describe their experiences and feelings.

And how grateful I am that my mom had the foresight to realize that at some point, others in the family might have interest and find value in these glimpses into the past.

But most importantly, how grateful we all should be that brave men and women continue to separate from their families and put their own lives at risk, regardless of their role, to protect us and our freedoms.

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)