In 1999, I was visiting my grandparents in England for summer vacation. I was 6 at the time and I did not have much understanding of the world with the exception of Volvo’s and Thomas the Tank Engine. It was just after I moved out to Illinois and we had just gotten used to our new home in La Grange, IL. My parents had just gotten a divorce and my years at Wilmot Pre-Kindergarten were over, but my years at Cossit Elementary School had just begun. That summer we decided to go over to the United Kingdom for summer vacation to visit my grandparents near London. I was really looking forward to this trip because it was going to be one of the good things in my life at the time. I looked at it like a break from the terror that was my parents divorce.
As my life was being tossed up by my parent fighting and bickering, I wanted to go to the United Kingdom more than anything, because I hadn’t seen my grandparents for 3 years. On the plane ride over a few things happened, I had my first clear look of the Atlantic Ocean and I threw up orange juice and bile all over my mom. We arrived at London Heathrow Airport and went straight to my grandparent’s house in Cornwall, near London. Over the time of the first few days we were there I got to know my Granddad a lot better than I had before. He told me stories and I told him stories. I vividly remember him chasing me around the greenhouse. My father had told me of his experiences in Normandy at the battle of D-Day at Gold Beach. So, naturally curious, I asked. My Granddad didn’t even bother to look at me, he just turned his head and walked into another room. My relationship with him has never fully healed, with the added effect that I found out that he wasn’t my grandfather at all.
I believe that death is one of the most dynamic experiences on the human mind when it is the death of a friend or loved one. My granddad lost his seven best friends on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. He has never talked to anyone about the events that happened there, not even his wife or step kids. We aren’t sure if its post traumatic stress syndrome, but since that day he will never look at anyone the same way again.