Thursday, November 11, 2010

When they don't listen, just say "thanks"

On this Veteran's Day make sure you say "Thank you for your service" to any veteran or military person you see. I will be spending some time with two key veterans of 'the Greatest Generation" today; my father-in-law and my father.

Joe Proulx is a great example of the "Can Do" spirit that the Seabees where he served reinforced. He knows parts and logistics. He'll tinker with something broken, pulling it apart and putting it back together with parts from something else so that it works. He is having a hard time these days with Parkinson's developing and taking over his life. Parkinsons's in not something he is prepared to deal with. He can't take it apart and put it back together. When he does starting taking something apart, he doesn't remember doing it.

He will fall. Out of control, he just will lose balance and fall. This can be real dangerous when navigating the stairs in his house. He has already had several incidents with emergency room visits, stitches and bruises. He fell this past Sunday. Coming up from the basement, his shop where he does all his tinkering, he fell backwards. The family is still not sure how far he fell but he fell. Broke his neck this time. Second vertebrae so he was lucky. If it had been the first vertebrae, the situation could have been far worse.

Jerry Sherlock, my father, you may already know some of his story. We have been recording parts of the story of his life. We started with his first memory about three years old and worked our way up through school, baseball and World War II. He served in the Marines, in the Pacific Theater. He fought on Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima. He came home, started working, married Rita, raised six kids and did what he needed to do. We did not hear of what he did in the war. I do not know that we will ever hear all that occurred on those islands. I know enough that war is cruel, and horrible, and the worst that can be.

Jerry is challenged these days by diabetes, poor hearing, and recently has become legally blind. He keeps his routine as much as possible. He likes to read so his paperback and hardcover books from the library have been replaced by talking books. His newspaper has been replaced by a radio broadcast service that read the paper to him. Yet, when he gets up in the morning, he still walks out to the driveway to get the paper. A paper he really can't read.

The habits and routines that helped both Joe and Jerry survive are now creating some of their tough times. As much as we try to help them, they are set in their ways and won't listen. They made it before, they intend to make it now.

This Veterans Day is a great opportunity to just step back and say "Thanks for your service!"

This was originally posted to Steve's 2 Cents


Frank said...

I have had a couple of tough weeks. But I look at Jerry and Joe and quit my whininng.

My mother who had been diagnosed with Alzheimers, but was doing fantastic, passed away unexpectedly.

Several days later Joe Proulx took a fall and was pretty banged up. I stopped by at Jane Brown and he was in great spirits. His wife is a Saint. She and Joe were more concerned about me losing my mom.

If that wasn't enough, Jerry was dialed in to head to my Mom's funeral. I met him up at Dunkin Donuts and convinced him that it was more important to attend the Marine Corps Birthday Dinner. He really gives the guys a morale boost by being at the dinner. He understood and complied with my wishes.

THe next day Jerry had a spill due to a conflict in his meds. Joan found him and Jerry got an earfull. "Dad why didn't you push the panic button? Jerry's reply" Wasn't an emergency."

My friend Ernie sums it up best.
" The guy was on Iwo Jima. Run out of ammo? Find some more. Fox hole got blown up? Move to another one. Emergency? What emergency." These guys have a warped sense of duty that people today cannot fathom. THEY DON"T GIVE UP OR GIVE IN. It's what defines them.

These two guys from World War Two are giants. They are the epitome of old school. True gentlemen who don't complain. They don't listen often to us. So yes, all we can do is smile.

Steve Sherlock said...

Frank. You have had a rough couple of weeks.

I'll need to correct this posting, Joe was in the Seabees but in the post-war period. In my mind, he was still of that age and certainly embodies the spirit that can inspire us (oh yes, frustrate us at times) but give us great reason to say as you did "just smile!"