Mary Beth Writes

5/25/2024

Today my story ‘Memorial Day’ is posted at Substack. Read it here. 

 Among early childhood memories are my two grandfathers, at different times, pointing out to me the greyish dots in their forearms; both had been hit by shrapnel in WWI. My dad and uncle were in WWII, my dad followed the front-line in Italy, stringing phone lines. He camped in mud for a year. My uncle, who joined the Navy at 17 (I think) was a signal guy on ships. During that time he contracted tuberculosis from which it would take him a year to recover. I didn’t learn nearly enough of their experiences but I did understand those years were tough and dangerous and they were glad to have survived.

My brother Paul was a medic near Hue in Vietnam; I still have his letters. He mentions in one how weird it was to watch movies. They sat on folding chairs inside the camp as missiles were shot off over their heads, into the far distance.

I was in my 30’s and writing about Paul when, in a powerful realization, I understood I was a veteran, too. Anyone who has memories of a family member in the military and in harm’s way has come through their own trauma. Hearing your mom cry very quietly in a different room. Seeing her white knuckles when Vietnam news comes on the TV. Being a person with no power while the best part of one’s life seems on the edge of burning.

I started “Memorial Day back last December. I didn’t know then it was going to be about the loss and trauma associated with military service, I thought it was going to be about the two siblings who don’t like each other. But what one thinks one is going to write and what actually happens when characters start talking to each other – that’s why I love this even when it takes six months to finish one story.

Anyways, I thought you might like to know where this story started.

I hope your weekend is a good one.

Comments

Love the day and the memories! Dad was in the army and stationed in France (1953). Two of my brothers were in the Air Force, although were not in actual combat. Happy Memorial Day!

Your Uncle Irv was also in the Army in WWII. He went overseas , a few days after he and Carol were married in Jun 1944. Was in UK for about a month (and remembers V1 buzz bombs). Went to France about a month after D Day. Saw front line action towards the end of the Battle of the Bulge, when the Allies were pushing the Germans back towards the border. Got hit by some shrapnel in one arm and one leg; then got put on a desk job after recovery. Your Aunt Carol said he would sometimes talk in his sleep and wake up with sweats.
Mary Beth's picture

I should have mentioned Uncle Irv. I remember getting a ride back to college (just outside Chicago) with him, Not sure where he was going. I remember him saying that during the war, in the worst of the fighting, at night he would dream of home. After he came home, for years he would too often dream of being back in the war.

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Hot Weather Diary #3

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Today was another hot one and right now, it’s still 93 degrees in my backyard.

Hot Weather Diary #2

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What the Dickens?

The photo is from Barnados, a childrens charity in London in the 19th century. 

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..

Courage, Big & Little

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Courage.

I’m writing fiction this week. I started a story in December that, along the way, turned into a Memorial Day story. It will be my Substack story this Saturday.

This morning I looked for an old newspaper column to rerun and found this one about a time when one of our kids needed to have four teeth pulled.

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