Thursday, November 10, 2005

Close to Nowhere
By Linda Jones


Veterans Day I have to think of my father-in-law. He was, in my opinion, a wonderful veteran! Of course, he was a wonderful man, so, he was just naturally wonderful at everything.

This year, thinking of Poppa will be especially poignant. My mother-in-law, Jimmie, has recently had to go live in a nursing home in Memphis, Tenn. and we’ve been packing the house up and trying to decide what to do with everything.

While packing, one of the many, many sentimental things I’ve found is an old whiskey bottle in an odd shape — VFW, with the VFW insignia on the stopper.

Clifford, or Poppa as he was known for most of my life, was a dedicated member of the Frayser VFW, Post 4916 on Whitney Road.

We went to countless spaghetti suppers on Sunday afternoons with Clifford and Jimmie and I spent almost every Saturday night for years helping Jimmie with her hair or something before the Saturday night dance at the VFW. We didn’t go to the dances, as our kids were small and Clifford and Jimmie wouldn’t let us leave them with just any babysitters. In fact, Clifford and Jimmie were our only babysitters.

At the time, I didn’t understand why they were both so sure that their oldest son and I were incapable of taking care of their grandchildren.

Now, as a grandparent, I completely understand!

Visiting with Jimmie in the nursing home this past Saturday was very sad. She was not having a good day and we couldn’t convince her that our oldest granddaughter was not Jimmie’s oldest granddaughter instead of her great-granddaughter. Binky does look almost exactly like her mother at that age. We never were able to get her to understand that the Gremlin was also Dana’s daughter — she thought Dana was sitting there beside her, still 9 years old.

She does remember Clifford very well. She even mentioned that he was a cook in the Army.

During World War II, somehow, as an Army cook, my father-in-law was a “chef” on a Navy ship that sailed to China.

He loved to cook and was famous for his fried potatoes. He was also famous at the VFW in Frayser for his dance style (you’d have to have seen it to understand — it involved lots of laughter on the watcher’s part).

I’ve talked to Bill Janssen, Post Commander of the local VFW and he said they would be pleased to have that old VFW bottle and would display it with a card noting Clifford’s name and VFW post.

That would have made Clifford so proud.

If you’re lucky enough to still have a veteran, give him (or her!) a hug every day, not just Friday.

And buy a poppy Friday from a VFW member and wear it proudly!

Veteran’s Day - November 11

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