This is me angry. And young.
Why oh why did I promise my dad that I wouldn’t open that Army trunk? I dusted it. I sat on it. I ran my fingers over the lettering. Yep. Definitely my dad’s Army trunk. And I’d promised him I wouldn’t open it until my mom left this earth to join him in heaven.
For the last 5 years of her life, Mom came to live with us in Ohio. She and Dad had lived in Hamilton, Missouri for over 5 decades in the same house, with the same friends. By an act of her will and her faith, she didn’t look back, except to stay in touch with friends. Instead, she settled in and started a new life in Ohio. And the trunk? Neither of us mentioned it. Never ever. She must have known I had it because she was there when we cleaned out the house, including the attic. And she knew I was reading everything I could about WWII.
One day as we were playing cards I tried to nail a date in 1944, when a certain battle caused the nurses to evacuate. Mom’s recollection didn’t align, and I was getting frustrated. So was she. “That can’t be right,” I said. “F.D.R. was still alive.” Mom slapped down her cards and said, “Well, Dandi, just look in the letters!” A silence fell so hard I could feel it as we stared at each other for what felt like hours. The elephant in the room was standing on the table. After more cold minutes passed, Mom said sweetly, “Anything else?”
As soon as our game ended, guess what I did. Yep. I opened that trunk.