Monday, August 23, 2010


Growing up I was very close to my grandfather.  My mom was a young single mom and we lived in her parents house for several years.  Pa would pick me up from school, take me out for donuts, have me sit with him for hours in his "computer room," and let me eat chocolate covered graham crackers out of his desk before dinner.  When my mom was at work it was Pa, not my grandmother, who I remember taking care of me.  

Pa and me in 1984

As a young man, Pa fought in WWII.  He was part of the Army Air Corps 100th Air Group, nicknamed the Bloody Hundredth because they lost so many men.  On December 31, 1944 Pa's B17 was shot down over Hamburg, Germany.  He was the Navigator and one of the few survivors from his crew.  He spent the remainder of the war in Stalag Luft 1, a German Prisoner of War Camp. 

Despite this traumatic experience Pa's love of airplanes continued throughout his life.  He built his career around his love of airplanes and continued his pursuit of recreational piloting well into his retirement.  

Durring his career years Pa worked for Douglas, later called McDonnell Douglas.  His job as an airplane salesman throughout Asia put more stamps in his passports than even most well traveled people could obtain in a dozen lives.  His job kept him away from his family more than most and he missed out on a lot of things with his kids.  When I, his only grandchild, moved into his house I think he saw it as his second chance to be there everyday.

When I was eleven my mom got remarried and we moved out of my grandparents house; I was angry but continued to have a close relationship with Pa.  When I was 16 he died and I was devastated.  Then, as though he was giving me a final sendoff, on the day I receive the college degree that he paid for a B17 flew over my head in Olympia Washington.  I still miss him and regret that he never got to meet David or Flora.  As in love with me as he was, I can only imagine how he would feel about Flora. 

Despite his obvious absence in my life I often feel that a little bit of him lives on in Flora because at two years old she is obsessed with airplanes.  She points out every plane that passes overhead, even the ones no one else would notice.   She often talks about how the clouds are too high to reach and then goes on to tell me how, if she were in a plane THEN she could reach the clouds. There is almost a wistful longing in her little voice.  One of her favorite games is to pack up her suitcase and backpack and then get in her cardboard car so she can drive to the airport.  I can't help but feel like this fascination with planes was somehow passed on to her from Pa.  Who knows, perhaps she too will build her life around her love of airplanes.  Regardless of her future, I can't help but look at her now and see a little bit of my beloved Pa. 

Flora is in her car, headed to the airport.


  1. This is so beautiful, Ellie. I can tell from the picture where he's holding you that he is a wonderful man. You are lucky to have had such a close relationship with him.

  2. Thank you, he really was a great man. Thanks for following my blog.