This is my story, or should I say experience.
Since the time I was born the greatest influence in my life was my grandfather, whom I affectionately called "Papa".
He was the father of my mother and a very intimidating looking individual. His appearance to me was one of love and security.
He joined the marines in 1941 after he witnessed the raid on Pearl Harbor on December 7 of that year. The age of 17 is young to sign up for anything especially what would soon be a world war.
He was injured on the island of Iwo Jima by a land mine blast. Somehow my grandmother received note that he was M.I.A. But as always he returned home as you will soon find out.
He stayed at home for a few years after that and went to serve in Korea. He came home had my mother in 1957. Then a few short years later went to Vietnam. Talk about experiencing history.
He started smoking at a very young age (probably in WWII). He used to tell me stories of the wars and often got interrupted by a horrible bout of coughs rendering him red in the face. As a young child it was kind of startling.
He used to ask me if I would join the service. I would say, "yes Papa, I want to be like you with a uniform and be proud of myself". I meant every word of it too.
Soon these coughing bouts got worse and by the time I was 13 he was rushed to the hospital one day. When my family and I got to the hospital they wouldn't let me see him. I think it was his wish for that. I don't think he wanted me to see him laid up undignified with tubes protruding out of him and unable to speak.
A few days later he scribbled out on a notepad to stop the machine. Then he left me there with no hero and barley old enough to understand what had hapened.
I cried for days even after the funeral.
President Clinton even sent us a signed letter of regret of our loss and our country's loss of such a great war hero.
About 6 months or so after the funeral I was at home alone with my dog Mac. I was alone because my parents had recently divorced and I was living with my father. He was always at work and never seemed to be around. Well anyway, Me and Mac were going upstairs to go to bed, suddenly he stopped at the top of the stairs and started to growl. He was growling at the mirror at the end of the hall (that was a first for me I never heard him growl before). I looked at the mirror and saw Papa, staring at me the way he always did. At first I was scared then a warm blanket of security surrounded me and embraced my soul. Then I was content and happy in that knowlege that he would blanket me when I needed help or when I was frightened.
That was my experience. I will never forget it and I hope you don't either. Thank You.