Mother said we had to go with her to visit grandpa in the nursing home. At least she allowed us to bring our video game. I didn’t mind the visits. Grandpa, in his nineties, often told the same stories again and again. Other times unaware of us, he dosed in his chair.
Today he was talkative, happy to see us. The story he launched himself into telling was one we had listened to many times. Mom nodded yes when I held up the game. Jimmy and I started the game.
“Deploy the USS Benevolence,” Jimmy said.
“What? The Benevolence? That’s your grandmother’s ship.”
I glanced up at him. Grandpa stared back at me, eyes clear and unwavering.
“Grandpa, you’re confused. The Benevolence is a starship in our game.”
“She was a real ship, in Tokyo Bay on VJ Day and your grandmother was on board.”
“What’s VJ Day?” Jimmy asked.
“My God! What are they teaching you in school? VJ Day is the day Japan surrendered and ended the War.”
“I don’t get it,” Jimmy said as I shut off the game. We hadn’t heard this story.
“VJ stands for Victory over Japan,” Mother said.
“That’s right,” grandpa slapped his leg.
“Mother was in the war? I knew you served, but not mother.”
“I meet her on the Benevolence. She was a hospital ship and your mother, a nurse. I ended up there after being released from the POW camp.”
Grandpa told us everything he remembered. Grandma signed up for the Junior Red Cross in high school and was studying nursing when the war began. She signed up to join the war as soon as she could. We asked questions, and he answered until his new nurse came in and insisted grandpa needed his rest.
Reluctantly, we gathered our things and said goodbye promising we would be back. We wanted more stories of the war and grandma and mother as a little girl.
In the months that followed, we went often. I began to look forward to grandpa’s stories. Even on the days when our visits were accented by gentle snoring, I didn’t mind. Grandpa was always glad to see us. I often wondered who enjoyed our visits more.
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer