Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: The Only One Left To Tell...

Growing up I loved to climb trees. In fact, my dad bought me my very own oak tree. It was rather big for one you'd buy and plant in your backyard, and it came ready-to-climb. Oh, and it was such a good climbing tree. It had a branch that was just low enough that if I jumped high enough, I could grasp it with both hands, "walk" the rest of my body up, and flip myself over onto the branch.

I used to run around barefoot all the time, and I got very good at hoisting myself up my tree. I used to climb the branches, going here and there. I never broke any branches, nor did I fall from my tree. [I did fall from others, but no broken bones.] I wonder, though, in my haste to explore yet another branch, if maybe I missed something - maybe the perfect view of the sun setting in the Texas sky, or maybe the most comfortable spot to sit and rest for awhile.

Well, I realized yesterday that I had done this very thing. No, I wasn't actually climbing a tree. [I haven't done that in, well, years.] I'm talking about my family tree. Remember when I talked about my "long line of managing women" yesterday and I mentioned my Aunt Anne [my Gran's sister] having driven an ambulance in WWII in France? I realized that, other than finding out who she married, I never explored her story. [I know...I know, shame on me.]

The first time I ever actually remember being around her was when my mom & I transferred her from a nursing home in Houston, Texas to one in San Antonio, Texas so that she could be with her older sister [my Gran]. I still remember watching them sitting together in the activity room - happy as 2 peas in a pod - finally together again.

I wish I had known then to ask about her story. It's funny what can happen to a piece of information that's been given to you. You "file" it away, then you find it again, only to find out you needed it sooner. I mean, I knew that she'd driven that ambulance in WWII. I just didn't realize how important it was. Then years later, I skipped right over her again in my haste to climb other branches.

I did do some brief research on women who drove ambulances during WWII, including overseas. Wow! What a story! [Thud...Thud...do you hear that? That's me kicking myself in the backside!]

My Aunt Anne passed away in 1995, twenty years after her husband [who also served in WWII], and they never had any children. No one to pass on their story. It's just been sitting there waiting patiently to be found...

Well, I don't have her firsthand account of what happened in France, but I sure wish I did. What was it like to be a woman in the U.S. Navy during WWII? What was it like to be one of the very few women driving an ambulance in France?...exciting?...scary?

So many women provided support services during WWII - from working in factories on the home front to serving abroad. Among all the hullabaloo, though, these women seem to be forgotten sometimes. I have more to study about my Aunt Anne in hopes of uncovering her story and sharing it, and I can't wait! Today my Aunt Anne is with her husband, amongst many other veterans, in Houston National Cemetery.

So, when climbing your family tree, don't forget to slow down and explore every branch, even the smaller ones. You never know whose story you might find...and you might be the only one to tell it. And to my Aunt Anne and all the women who served in WWII, thank you...you are not forgotten!


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