September 11th came, honoring thirteen years since the horrible tragedies in New York City, Pennsylvania, and DC. However, it also honored the life of a great woman: my mom!
My grandmother and I packed up the car late that afternoon and surprised Mother by showing up unannounced at a friend's party. There were old pals from three different congregations of the Lord's people, some of whom I hadn't seen in several years. We ate some good food and sang old hymns.
The next day, we went to a great restaurant in Paducah called Jasmine's, but we had to wait till Dad finished his half-shift at the hospital. So, to kill time, we took my car to get its oil changed and then milled around downtown.
|Anybody know what this is? Says "Made in Italy" on the paper tray. I found nothing on Google.|
|Royal 440. Seems to be in working condition, except the incorrectly threaded ribbon.|
Nice machine by itself, but not what I was looking for.
Since we didn't have the chance to give Mom a fancy lunch on her real birthday, we decided that having it a day late was no sin. Little did she realize that we had one more surprise, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect.
Mom: "Should we say a prayer before the food gets here?"
Me: "Let's wait till Jordan sits down."
Jordan: *walks through the door and makes eye contact with Mom at that moment*
Dad and I looked at each other and grinned. Mission accomplished!
We did what you might expect: presents, ice cream, live music. Good times. Nice chance to stop and take inventory of the things that really matter in this life.
I woke up early Saturday morning. Sometimes the old body just feels like jumping out bed when you don't. I was frustrated, but then I realized I could get some work done.
So I did! I'm very happy to announce that my novel has been edited and will now go to beta readers! Go me! It topped out at 65,000 words, and that's after I cut out lots of stuff and rewrote multiple scenes. Still a bit shorter than I had hoped, but length isn't everything in a story, right?
Late yesterday afternoon, once back in Sikeston, I went to have lunch with Jenny. She's an old lady from church who's known me since I was a little kid, but became a dear friend when I began my graduate studies. During our conversation over pizza, salad, and ginger ale, she presented me with a priceless gift.
This, my friends, is a genuine Hitler Youth knife. And there's a very interesting story behind it.
Jenny's husband, Bill, was a soldier in Patton's 3rd Army. He was part of an anti-aircraft battery protecting the flanks. He took this dagger off of a dead German at some point during the Battle of the Bulge. All that's left of his service to our country is this dagger, a picture of his unit, his uniform, and his dog tags.
Holding this dagger brought so many questions to my mind. Who carried it? When did he get it? How old was he? What was his name, and what did Hitler say to make him fight for his cause? The Hitler Youth were given these daggers between the ages of 12 and 18. They often carried them into battle after joining the Wehrmacht. By 1944, Germany was running low on manpower. It is highly possible that the soldier who carried this dagger was under the age of 18 when he died.
I'd seen this dagger before. Jenny knew I was a passionate historian. I told her that she should give it to one of her children, and make sure they understood its value as an heirloom.
Her son disagreed. I never like to brag about myself, but I've been visiting Jenny consistently for almost two years. At first, I did it just to be polite. But over time I began to realize just how much it meant to her, after being alone for so many years.
The Bible says in Matthew 6:1-4 that when we give to those in need, we shouldn't make a big deal about it. Our left hand should not know what the right hand is doing. It also says to visit the widows and orphans, describing it as "pure, undefiled religion" (James 1:27). I hope you will take the opportunity to visit a neglected soul. I promise it will make you feel good about yourself. There's nothing quite as special as being in someone's utmost confidence.
Holding that dagger, remember how much she had loved her husband, the history tied to the worn, dirty scabbard, I felt that I did not deserve it. Yet, I wouldn't think of refusing her token, the one thing she knew would make me understand the depth of our friendship. I accepted, and it will remain an heirloom in my family.
|If only it could talk. I might not be able to stomach the stories...|
|Very faint, but it's there:|
"Blut und Ehre" – "Blood and Honor"
|The company logo, model number, and date of production.|
Jenny is one of the sweetest people I've ever met. The next time we have lunch, I'm going to interview her. She was a secretary during World War II. I'd like to ask her some questions about what it was like typing for the army, among other things in her life. Feel free to suggest some!
And, coming up next time, a very special typecast!
Power to the pen!