Lest We Forget.

Owen Zupp, A Father’s death

Lest We Forget.

Another Remembrance Day has passed and another set of memories has been stirred. Memories of lined, leathery faces, now gone, who had entered the fray as young men and lived to return. My father’s brothers-in-arms. Their faded tales emerge from the mist of my mind and form images of battles I had never seen. In jungles. In frozen skies. But this day is different.

As my son stands straight-backed at the cenotaph, his shoes shined and his creases razor sharp, I consider what this moment would mean to the grandfather he had never met. As a boy, my father would silently seek out the back row as the catafalque party took their positions, his medals in a drawer somewhere in our home. He would offer up the occasional comment but generally he would sit and contemplate, only ever breaking the pauses with a random observation of the proceedings.

But what would he be like now? What would he say to the grandson in uniform proudly wearing the long row of medals retrieved from the drawer?

In his final years, my father lowered some barriers a little. Just enough to my pique my interest and to join the occasional dots of a youth well spent. Part of me feels that his edges would have softened a little if he’d lived to this day. His humility and shy disposition would have remained but I suspect that he may have finally begun to appreciate that others valued his service. Service that he treasured but kept tucked away.

My life’s retreat is that he never met my wife or our children. He would have loved them all and possibly even tried to convey some emotion in old age – but possibly not. He never chose to convey his feelings, but he never really needed to.

Still, as we stand with our faces to the west and the minute’s silence ticking down, I think of him and who he would have been today if fate had not dealt him a loaded hand. I like to think that he’d have been proud of the children that bear his name and maybe he would have even shared a few tales of a youth well spent.

Lest We Forget.

Zupp Remembrance Day