So, I'm up in New York this week for Father's Day. Mainly, to surprise my Dad and my incredible Grandfather.
Today, my grandfather's surprised tears of joy were the best thing I have ever seen.
Most of you guys know that my Grandpa immigrated here from Italy in 1939 when he was 18. He still has an accent as thick as if he got off the boat last tuesday however. He's a quiet, elegant man who spent his life as a tailor. And at 89 years of age, he's finally starting to talk about his time in World War II.
Today, I told him I was going to London for 2 weeks next month. Apparently Grandpa was stationed in London for 6 months during the war. He loved it...especially Piccadilly Circus and the LIVE DANCING GIRLS!
Anyway, we spoke again about his part in the liberation of Dachau in Germany. Apparently, his unit got there after the guards had left and after most of the prisoners had gone as well. He and his men were responsible for organizing the civilians from the surrounding villages to clean up.
And they did.
Grandpa said that most of the German civilians were utterly shocked at what had taken place in the camp...openly weeping with grief, fear and guilt as they took in the sight of the two large crematoriums, "labs" for medical experiments on prisoners, gallows and other horrors which Grandpa shuddered to remember.
I said I found it hard to believe that these civilians were totally oblivious to what was going on virtually in their backyard.
Grandpa said that if I had seen their reactions, their weeping and their grief, as they worked to erase the place in which they had found themselves.
It's so amazing for me to get this time to talk about these things with my Grandpa. I never knew my Grandpa played this particular role in history until less than a year ago. I was always impressed enough to know that he made beautiful coats using his nimble fingers and that he learned penmanship from monks in a small coastal village in the south of Italy.
I realize now as my time with him grows ever shorter, that he is complex and fascinating and unique..and even with all the time in the world, would never be able to know him as much as I would wish.
So, Happy Father's Day to the heroes we have the pleasure of knowing and loving every single day...