Two little words that changed my family forever…
Posted in , Nov 10, 2014
My dad never talked much about his days as an Army private during World War II. The only time he really opened up was when we visited my grandparents. Then Dad and Grandpop would chat on the living room couch, while I played with my dolls on the floor. There was one tale they retold often. One of a strange miracle that changed the course of our family’s history completely.
It happened back in 1944 when Dad was just 20 years old, stationed in the South Pacific. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Baltimore, Grandpop was sitting by Grandmom’s hospital bed. She had breast cancer and was recovering from surgery, drifting in and out of consciousness. Grandpop wished there was something he could do to ease her pain. It didn’t help that both their sons were fighting a war halfway across the world—my uncle Harry in England and my dad, James, in New Guinea. Grandmom prayed for their safe return morning, noon and night, even while she was fighting her own battles.
Grandpop was flipping through the newspaper that day, skimming the war headlines, when Grandmom suddenly sat up in bed, her eyes wild.
“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” Grandpop said, taking her hand.
“Duck, James!” she bellowed. With that, she fell back on her pillow, fast asleep again. Duck, James? What did that mean?
When Grandmom woke up an hour later, Grandpop questioned her about it. But she had no recollection of saying anything. They decided she’d probably just had a bad dream.
Several weeks later, Grandpop received a letter postmarked from the U.S. Army with my dad’s neat script on the envelope. He tore it open.
Dearest Mom and Pop, the letter read. The strangest thing has happened…
His unit had been on high alert after reports of enemy troops nearby. Dad was preparing his equipment for the nighttime attack when he heard a woman’s voice piercing through the silence of the jungle, clear as a bell. At the sound of it, Dad ducked. Just as a bullet whizzed past his head, skimming the top of his helmet.
You saved me, Mom, my dad wrote. All thanks to your words that came out of nowhere – “Duck, James.”