Monday, May 26, 2014

Every Memorial Day, I remember … by Cheryl Allen

Joyce and I.N. Sanford

I was spending the week at my Nanny’s house.  Slow Alabama days drove a curious girl like me to snooping.  I found myself standing on a hamper in the pink-tiled bathroom, arm stretched high, sliding an old photo album from the top shelf with my fingertips.  The book revealed photos of my grandfather, and his letters from war.  “Dear Janie,” one read.  It was a letter to my mom, who was just a baby at the time of its writing.  My ten-year-old heart broke as I read this line:  “I’m fighting so that you can have a safe place to grow up.”

My grandfather never came home. 
I guess I had always known that my grandfather died in World War II, but that day, sitting in the bathroom floor, I began a journey of understanding—a realization of what his death meant for my Nanny, and for my mom, and for me.  I was proud, and so very sad.

Years later, after I had a family of my own, my mom brought me an old Bible.  It was my grandfather’s.  On the inside cover, his name, “I.N. Sanford” is neatly printed in uppercase.  Below it, my mom’s maiden name is written in smaller print, and below that is a careful penning of her married name.  The Bible is a reminder of what we lost and of our family’s courage to carry on.

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