“I’m going to be such a young grandfather!” These were my dad’s first words when Taylor and I returned home from Europe in the summer of 2015 and told him we found out we made the flight back to DFW with an extra passenger. We just celebrated his 60th birthday the summer before. I don’t think anyone else would put my parents in the “young grandparent” category, but they are part of the baby boomer generation and got to welcome their first grandchild much earlier in life than their own parents did. My grandparents put their family lives on hold when they were interrupted by World War II and I know that nobody thought they were young by the time I came along.
When I was growing up, I was envious of my friends who had grandparents that were able to cheer them on at their sporting events or drive at night. These friends were always spoiled with the most popular toys each Christmas season while I got handkerchiefs and undershirts. Now, I consider it one of my greatest blessings to have grown up around the “greatest generation.” Both of my grandfathers served in WWII. A handful of people my age might have one grandparent old enough to have served who was drafted at 21, but not many. My dad’s father was already finished with medical school and his residency before he served as a surgeon in the U.S. Army. My mom’s dad, an academic, initially enlisted after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was turned down at first because of his age and eyesight. As the war went on, he was eventually drafted and served as a 1st lieutenant in General Patton’s third army.
I think a lot about the world my grandparents lived in at my age. I think about my grandmothers and all the other women constantly praying that their men would make it home. I wonder if their worries were all that different than mine are now living through a pandemic. We put our entire lives on hold while simultaneously adapting and moving forward. We get up every morning and do what we have to do. Just like my grandparents, I have no control over the world or climate around me. I know I wouldn’t be here without my grandmothers both postponing having children. Their sacrifices led to my existence, but somehow I am the one who got the news they probably spent countless hours fearing…that my husband wouldn’t be coming home. Although we have gone through our early 30s lifetimes apart, I feel a connection to the world my grandparents experienced. I have been through the trenches too.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”Ephesians 6:10-13
I have heard countless times since losing Taylor how strong I am. Forgive my lack of humility, but it is true. I am incredibly strong. I grew up around the influence of the strongest generation and quite frankly… I have the best armor. God doesn’t tell us to “suit up” because our days are guaranteed to be sunshine and rainbows. We are instructed to put on the Lord’s armor because we will be in constant battle with the enemy that is a fallen world. This life is hard. Fortunately, we are fighting under a Lord who is greater than any general history will ever know. We are instructed to put on the armor of God so that we are protected from whatever the world might throw at us.
History portrays a rose colored America immediately following WWII. When we look back we see the baby boom and a pie cooling on every windowsill in suburbia. This idea of a picturesque country was just as inaccurate then as it is now, but I think there is an important lesson in the idyllic rendering of post-war America. That is that life goes on. We are living in unprecedented times, but babies are still being born every day. Our jobs and family life may look different this year, but we are finding ways to adapt. We have no idea when life will throw a curveball at us which is why it is so important to heed the scriptures and guard ourselves with the armor of God. What we do know is that those curveballs will come, often and out of nowhere, and with God on our side we will be able to continue marching onward.
(left to right): My maternal grandfather with his parents, in his uniform and standing next to his brother and fellow soldier, Ned Newcomer, outside their family home in Ohio.
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