Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Memorial Day has for the most part turned into a nothing more than a day to cook out. As I scanned the newspaper and all the local news for a parade I noticed that, well there wasn't one. It seems the thing in North Carolina to do is have a observation ceremony. I grew up in a town where memorial day was well an event. Back in 1868 the town of Ironton decided to celebrate what was then known as Decoration Day with a parade. Every year since then the town has had a parade rain or shine, which has given the town a the distinction of having the longest continuous Memorial Day parade in the country.

The parade is not why I am posting, since it is a day or remembrance, as I watch Band of Brothers I am remembering my Grandfather Everett Eaches. Just this past week he has turned 93 years old and this will be the first that he will not be able to go to the parade. Back in January as the Chicago Bears found their way into the Super Bowl I call home with joy. My dad seemed a little out of sorts and I asked if I could talk to mom. "She's at the hospital right now." After some prodding I find out that paw paw (as we all call him) had a nasty fall in the parking lot of a tire shop. The worst par was he was having problems remembering where he left his car and how he got to the hospital. This scared me the most, a few years back I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's and the day she forgot who I was still haunts me.

Luckily he recovered, but we had to do something none of us wanted to do, we put him in a nursing home. For paw paw this was the worst thing in the world. The one thing he had left was his independence and now this was being taken away from him. he rebelled as a scorned teenage, but slowly he has started to settle in. I don't think he will ever get us to it, but that is his nature.

He is a man that has done some much with so little. He grew up in the era of the Great Depression and was born in the small blip on the map known as Superior, Ohio. It's so small most Ohio maps don't even have it listed. He dropped out of high school during his sophomore year because a fellow classmate stole his shop project and that was going to make him fail. So he thought, I might as well drop out. Then came WWII, he enlisted and served time in Korea as a cook. One of my favorite stories was about a typhoon that hit and all they had to eat for a week was strawberries and bananas, to this day he refuses to eat either.
After the war he found his way into the local Oldsmobile shop as a mechanic and worked his way to head mechanic. One of the best perks was going to Detroit to see the auto show and look at all the new cars coming out. Then the city of Ironton came calling, they needed a new head of the city streets. He was now in charge of all the streets, the city fleet of cars and trucks and since Ironton sits on the Ohio River he was in charge of the cities flood walls. I still remember a call not to long ago, where the city contacted him because there was no one who could remember how to set up the walls so they called the man who knew them best, mind you he retired back in the mid 70s.
While I was in college I remember my grandfather getting a physical. Something he did every few years. They put him on a treadmill and had him walk. He was suppose to tell them when he got winded or tired. After 10 minutes they ask him if he wants to stop, "No I'm fine." they kept going "Are you out of breath?" "No, I'm still good." as he continued to walk. Finally they made him stop. They asked what kind of exercise he did every week. "Well, I mow the lawn twice a week, I play golf three times a week." For a man in his 80s they said he was fit as someone twenty years younger.
To see this great man no be able to do as he wishes is hard. I know he's 93 and will not live forever, but if one man could I'd say it is Everett Eaches.

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