After lunch, Marie approached our Grandda.
"There's lots a presents under the tree. Are we maybe gonna open them?"
"Well, we sure are gonna, little missy! Let's jist git in there and open 'em up, okay?"
Taking her by the hand, the old man and the little girl headed into the living room and the Christmas tree. Looking back on it today, I realize that we were just what each other needed in that time of our lives, and am thankful for it. I don't remember the gifts we opened, only the love and excitement that filled the hearts at that time in our lives.
We stayed on, living on that farm, going to school in a neighboring town. We rode the county school bus, made friends, and had a normal childhood. Eventually our Ma remarried, but that is a story for another time.
I skipped a grade in school, and was finished at the normal age of eighteen. I decided to leave the farm and look for work that paid more than I could earn around there, so I headed back up north to look up Sgt. Finley. Maybe I could get onto the police force. I had high hopes. The year was 1963, and our President was John F. Kennedy. Just about the time I was ready to leave, I got a letter from Uncle Sam that said, "Greetings..."
By that time, I was near six feet tall, had unruly red hair, and didn't have any real girl friends to speak of. Unfortunately, I got kind of tongue- tied around the girls. Once I hit the growth spurts, my feet were always getting tangled, and I felt awkward around the opposite sex.
My Ma noticed, naturally, and told me it would get better. I had my doubts, but smiled at Ma, and nodded my head. Jake, my stepfather, was very kind, and I really liked him. I really was kind of sad to leave, because I had had a good life on the farm, but I had dreams of making the world a better place by becoming a policeman and hunting down the criminals, like those who had killed my Da so many years past.
Les was fifteen by the time I left the farm and Marie was thirteen and becoming a beauty. Rosie...well, I'll save that story for another time.
You're wondering about Arlissa, aren't you? Her story will have to be told at another time, as well.
As for Grandda, he had a massive heart attack about five years after Grandma died, and he was buried beside his beloved life partner.
Well, when I got that letter from the local draft board, I could have asked for a deferment and probably have gotten it, but I decided to go ahead and so, I became a soldier in the United States Army.
(To be continued)