I can't let this month go by without writing about my parents. Mom (Isabelle) and Dad (Chuck) would have turned 91 this year. They are gone now, but always in my heart.
Chuck was born April 10, 1923. On April 19, Isabelle was born. He was the fourth child; she was the first of eight. In their late teens, his best friend Joey introduced them. Joey was Isabelle's cousin.
Too soon, Chuck was drafted and going to fight Germans. Isabelle waited back in Chicago. Chuck was not much for letter writing, but all the time he was overseas, he held onto a photo of Isabelle — he almost wore it out looking at it.
When the war was over, they were married. Isabelle wore a suit. It was not a good time to waste money on a wedding gown that would only be worn once — from the beginning they pinched pennies.
For a time, they lived in a bedroom at her parent's home. Chuck tried to get back to normal life, but the war haunted him. One night something startled him from sleep. For a moment he was back in combat and in his effort to take cover, he leapt out the window. It was summer, and he popped the screen out as he fled the house.
Good thing they were on the ground floor. Chuck came to his senses lying on his back in the yard. His shocked young wife was looking out the window at him.
I didn't come along until 1950. My sister arrived a year and a half later. I learned about my parent's lives from stories my dad told. He was great at describing past happenings. Dad told Karen and me bedtime stories about his childhood during the depression and his life during the war. He only told us funny stories though, not the gruesome happenings.
One battle story Dad shared concerned being shelled by the Germans. His platoon was backed into a cemetery. The shelter he found was in a family mausoleum. There he felt safe, like he had his own personal fortress.
He was patting himself on his back for his choice, until a bomb exploded close by. The mausoleum shook so hard, a body fell to the floor and was uncovered. YIKES! Even with the shelling, he ran from his hiding place, figuring he'd rather face the enemy he knew.
Dad was our family storyteller. Mom was our homemaker. I learned about her life through Dad.
The newlyweds eventually moved into a little flat (apartment). The only pet they could have was a budgie. Mom loved that bird. She would let it out of its cage when she was home, and it would follow her around.
Once Mom was using her canister vacuum to clean the parlor. Suddenly, a lump went up the hose. Mom looked around. Her budgie was missing. She turned off the vacuum and opened the canister. A filthy bird came out, alive, but hacking up dust. Mom cleaned him off and set him back in his cage. From then on, when she vacuumed, the bird stayed caged.
Mom didn't start out as a good cook. As a kid, she was too busy taking care of her little brothers to learn. After marrying Dad, she had to cook.
One Saturday, her brothers came over for a bowl of her homemade soup. Dad and the boys sat down and started eating while Mom fussed about the kitchenette. Finally, she joined them at the table and took her first bite. "This is horrible! Why are you eating it?" — she had over-salted the soup, but no one wanted to tell her and hurt her feelings.
These few stories I share today are in their memory ... I will miss them forever. I hope you save and share your own family stories, too. Those stories can be your gift to your children, grandchildren, and great...
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; www.facebook.com/susan.manzke