My grandfather lived in Yugoslavia before and during WWII. When I was 14 we had a family reunion in rural Indiana. When we were alone for a moment, grilling some chicken, he said to me, “You’re 14, yes? When I was your age I was walking in the mountains with a machine gun.”
My senior year english teacher… “nobody will ever love you quite the way you want them to. You just have to let them do their best.” Really good advice, in my opinion.
My uncle was in Dday, and he was in the s@#t with the canadian army on the beach. Long story short he manages to get up to the bunker and takes I think around 10 german prisoners, and as the prisoners were being escorted, one of them kept on wanting to touch my uncle,and my uncle asked why and the prisoner said “I had my sights on you 4 times, and each time the gun jammmed” My uncle said he nearly pissed himself when he heard that.
I was eating sardines on toast when my Pop (Grandad) goes, “I don’t eat them. The bones crunch. All the food during the war was like that because it always had ash in it.”
He was in a concentration camp from 1939 to 1945.
It made me realize why Nana who could be a really good cook always cooked her food to mush.
It was for him.
My grandmother once went in to lenght about the arrival of bananas to sweden. And the first day they were available, there was a line stretching the entire block, and you were only allowed to buy one banana per person.
My granddad and I were rearranging the dining room in their house one day (about 20 yrs ago) and there was a cribbage board that had always hung on the wall in the corner of the room. I asked him if we should move it or anything, and he told me a story about it. Apparently when he was a radar operator in WW2, stationed in Guam, there was a whorehouse that all the NCO’s frequented.
Well one of the whores was an avid cribbage player (he saw a set in her room after a ‘session’ one day). Well they started playing every time he would go there, and they would play best of three to see if he paid her or not. When he found out he was being rotated back to the US, he went and bought her a new set, and she gave him the one they had used. Only thing that was specifically left to me in his will…cuz I’m pretty sure that nobody else knew that story.
The first letter I received from my grandfather in basic training was mostly about his experiences in his own basic training.
Toward the end of the letter, he gave me a brief update on the failing health of my grandmother. By this time she was unable to speak, and was pretty much stuck in a bed all day. He said that it was very difficult taking care of her and himself at his age, but he remembered a promise he made nearly 50 years before that, “Something about for better or worse.”
Unfortunately, in my idiocy over the years, I lost the letter, but I remember the words to this day, and I recited them at his funeral.
My grandpa was a WWII vet, and when I was 10 (a few months before he died), I was asking him about the war, and he was giving me little stories and stuff.
And at one point he told me: “Everything is better with beer. Except marriage.” And then my grandma threw a frying pan at him.
During college, I was riding near the front of a crowded bus one afternoon when an elderly man with a cane got on. I moved to offer him my seat, but he looked at me, smiled, and declared, “Miss, I may be old, but I’m still a gentleman.”
Girlfriends late Great Aunt from Lebanon:
“Life is actually good. It is very hard sometimes, but people can be beautiful. All of my things, they are just things. I keep them here just so I have them to give to you. And this is life, you try so hard for things but you must try harder to make sure you have people to give them to or there is no point. I will die and your children will not know me and I will be forgotten soon and soon you will be forgotten unless you make life beautiful for people. Even then, yes they will forget you but it will still be beautiful. Now I am tired and I hurt so much so let me go to sleep.”
I was silent for probably an hour as we drove home.
While doing research for a novel, I went to a nursing home and interviewed 8 of the folks there. Youngest was 78, oldest was 97.
All of them, male and female, said the same thing, over and over, as their one big regret: “I spent too much time working.”
All of them regretted pursuing the American golden ring of acquiring money in favor of living a little.
My personal philosophies were adjusted accordingly.
I was designing a cd-rom during spring break at my grandfather’s for senior project back in the 90’s.
my grandfathers 70 year old brother was there. he says “yeah i used to work for IBM, used to hack punch cards to show my electric was paid. ” Then I showed him some color visuals and he said “yeah I used to write those in C++ back in the 80’s.”
I don’t know if it qualifies as mind-blowing, but my grandfather and grandmother met on a blind double date. Right before they met their dates, my grandfather and his buddy switched who they were going to be with. Both couples were married and were together until they passed.
Life can be really funny sometimes..
Was sitting on a friend’s porch and his great grandmother was sitting there too, same as always in a rocking chair, covered in a shawl. She was pushing 100. I’d never heard her talk, she just sat there and chewed tobacco.
Well, my friend’s Dad drives up and gets out of his somewhat, beat up car, looking pretty shaken up. We ask what happened, he explained.
He was topping the hill outside town when right in front of him, not 100 yards away were two 18 wheelers taking up both lanes. One decided to pass the other but as they reached the top of the hill, was still blocking the oncoming lane. My friend’s Dad had to yank the wheel over, driving right into the ditch, but he was ok.
Just as he finished his story, we were all in awe, when the great, grandmother spoke up with this whispered, ragged voice and says, “That’s the difference between you and me, I’da hit that son of a b@#ch head on.” spit
I was about 13 or 12. I went to the local taco shop to buy myself a burrito, from the 15 dollars I had just earned mowing a lawn and old man came in asking if they would trade his 2 whole purple lettuce for a fourth of a green one ( he had taken them from the fields) He wanted a salad…. he looked extremely poor and while he was making himself a salad with the lettuce, i approached him with a carne asada burrito and a large jamaica and a chocolate muffin and gave it to him.
He offered me a seat.. He told me all about his work on the atomic bomb. about half an hour later, he went to his rusty, beat up car, he pulled out a snickers and an old binder, brought it back, shared his snickers, and showed me blueprints, and a lot of math problems, and pictures of him and a bunch of engineers working on it. he also showed me pictures of his family. he told me “drugs will take everything away from you son. Remember me and never touch them, or you will lose everything too.” I gave him all my leftover money and thanked him.
I later saw his car at the local truck stop, where he slept, and since i used to volunteer at the local convalescent center, i got him housing there. I never touched a drug in my life.
When I was in my twenties, some friends who were in their late thirties casually commented that it often took them a bit to remember how old they were (like “How old am I now? Oh yeah, I’m 36, I think”).
I was pretty incredulous at the time, but now that I’ve aged, I often find it takes me a couple seconds to recall my exact age. You younger kids will no doubt think that I’m full of s@#t, but maybe some older redditors can confirm this.
My grandma told me that she met my grandpa once, through a friend in college. They had lived in different states and became pen pals. For a year, they wrote to each other. After that year, they saw each other again and my grandpa proposed. They’ll be married for 50 years come this December.
When my grandfather was 15, his mother told him that they could afford to feed either him or his sister. They chose his sister. He was put out on his own and ended up, through a series of lucky accidents living with an Army officer until he was old enough to enlist.
My Grandmother is dying in the hospital right now, I visited her last week, I’m about to leave the country to work abroad and she was telling me how hard it must be for me because I know what I’m in for. She said when she left, she was put on a train to Dublin to get the boat to London, she didn’t speak any English and when she got to London, the day she started nursing training, WW2 broke out.
She said they’ve have to evacuate to bomb shelters every couple of hours when the bombing was at its peak, all the Irish nurses would sit in one room of the bumker on their knees playing, while the English nurses brought down a piano and sang and danced in the next room, she caught TB in ’41 and had to come back when she was well enough to travel.
A guy I work with is missing three fingers on his right hand from a die cut machine stamping accident at GM back in the 60’s (‘I wanted to get one more part out before break’).
I worked with him closely for a week on an audit project and we were sitting down to eat lunch and at this point heard the whole story, and I responded with ‘man thats rough’ or something similar. He responds with ‘its the best thing that ever happened to me. If I did not lose my fingers, I would have had gotten drafted, and knowing my risk-taking self, probably died in vietnam. I would not have got my next job, where I met my beautiful wife. If i never met my wife I would not have had my wonderful daughter, and she would not have had her three kids. I will gladly trade my 3 fingers for 4 lives anytime.’
Such a positive outlook on a life changing incident. Makes me question myself sometimes.
My grandpa told me this at thanksgiving dinner a few years back (obviously paraphrased, but this is as good as I remember it):
“I went to Finnish center the other day and was eating lunch next to some woman. We started talking, and she noticed my veterans hat, so the conversation led to the war. She told me she lost her fiance at the time in the war, and they never found his body. She immediately moved accross the country, and just recently moved back home to be near her family. I told her I was also engaged before the war and when I came home and our apartment was rented to new people, I figured she left me for another man while I was gone.
We looked at each other, and she asked me my name. And there I was. . . sitting next to my first love, decades later, at a random Sunday luncheon. We both cried.”