A free-verse poem in memory of my uncle, whom I never knew.
|I never knew you.
You were killed at Normandy
during the D-day invasion
four months before my birth,
one of the many young men who
paid the ultimate price to secure
victory against Nazi tyranny.
Your sister was my mother.
Your mother, my grandmother,
had your photograph, encased
in a patriotic display with the flag
presented to her by the Army,
prominently placed on a high
mantel in the living room
of the house we all shared.
I saw your face daily
while I was growing up.
My father says you were
his best friend, that you
introduced him to your sister.
My dad told me as I was growing up
that you were the best of them all,
a man well worth knowing.
My mom told me you always were
your mother’s favorite child.
Your mother never got over
your death. Every Saturday
your brother Homer would
drive her out to the cemetery
on the far edge of town
to place fresh-cut flowers
on your grave.
She always cried.
I enjoyed going along each
Saturday when I was a young boy
because we would stop on the way
home at a small country store.
Grandmom always bought me
a RC cola, into which I put a pack
of Tom’s salted peanuts…what
a treat! I liked visiting your grave.
Life treated you unfairly. You died
too young, never marrying, never
becoming a father, never having a career.
You missed out on a lifetime.
You must have been special, judging
by the lingering love others kept for you.
Now, you are fading from living memory,
like you never once walked this earth.
Your parents are dead, as is your brother
and my mother. The only family member
still alive who actually knew you is my
ninety-one-year-old father, your old
best friend. You’d be proud to know
Pop still says you were the best of all
Today you still exist as a memory
to both my sister and me, but we both
are growing somewhat senior. Before long,
no one alive will remember that you lived.
Before that happens, I (along with
all my children and my grandchildren)
just want to thank you for being there
to introduce your best friend Harry
to your younger sister Marcile. We all
greatly appreciate your having done so.
We owe much to a man none of us knew.
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