On a cold, winters morning as he sat in front of a blazing log fire, in his old, creaky rocking chair, his old veiny, frail hand held that of his grandson’s who was kneeling down by his side, as he had many times before. Yet on this night a special spirit stirred between them.
His gentle grey eyes looked down at his young friend’s face and a half smile came across it. He had come to comfort his grandfather, as his wife of many years had passed away.
The grandfather’s voice spoke softly and with more effort than usual, as the flames rose, licking at the wood.
“ When your mother was but a twinkle in my eye. I went to war.”
He struggled a bit as he started his recollections!!
“I will tell you from my memories past, at least what I can glean.
I remember waving my family goodbye on the doorstep of life. Then enrolling at what was the old rent office, by where the town hall still is. After that we went to get our uniforms and kit bags before going off for training.
When we finally went off to war it was a place where honours shine. The place was Flanders fields where the poppies and their bright red petals came from.
Beautiful fields turned into mud piles with a gutter along each side. Where many man flew into the light, where their bodies lay.” A pause “Yes dead!
Brave souls all, their spirits rose.
As dreams of yesterday flew by. Of childhood days, school playgrounds and smiles in the summer haze, as blazers with gold braid we proudly wore.
In the barracks, before the parade, I remembered an old trick that my mother taught me. A sticky type of tape, facing outwards, wound endlessly around my hand, to remove the bits and impress the band.
At the front, in the trenches I sometimes found myself straightening my clothes, but my Sergeant who was a burly man and a bit of a hard nut to crack, piped up. There’s the fight son, you’re not on parade, nor in your mummy’s house, be a man not a mouse.
I got shot at many times, but never got hit. I guess that somebody up there must have been looking out for me.”
Then he paused with a lump in his throat and with almost a tear in his eye he slowly continued.
“On a frosty morning, as snow lay crisply on the ground, we who, remained solemnly, gathered on Holy Mound with poppies spread all around, as far as the eye could see.
In front of the Cenotaph, without a sound, in our finest regalia, shoulder to shoulder with our peers. After all of those long, dark years, blood and guts, sweat and tears, we remembered.”
A pause, almost a sigh!
“ Those Hero’s, those few that helped us make it through.”
As he heard his grandfather finish a proud glow filled the whole room. The grandson said. “Granddad I have some news. I have enrolled in the Army reserves.” His grandfather gently pulled his old hand from his grandson’s and rubbed his hair. Then wholesomely said. “Take care of yourself.”
The grandson watched the fair-haired, very old beloved gentleman, as he seemed to slowly of lapse into a deep slumber. After all he was over 100 years old, so his grandson thought nothing of it, but today would be the longest sleep, for as he squeezed the old mans hand it was limp.
A, sadness swept through him, almost to the point of rage, but then he felt a cool breeze, dance upon his back and looked around in wonder to see his grandfather and his wife stood there holding hands. Him in his smart army uniform and her in a long, white, flowing, dress, it was there for a few moments, then it was gone. Almost like a beautiful swan flying away.
“I remember going to his funeral in my smart uniform, it was a good turnout, some people even came from the Legion. Now as I sometimes visit my dear departed grandfather’s grave. I think of his stories, of honour and of great deeds of valour.
I am a proud family man now with two grown up kids, I am still in the army reserves, I did the training, but was never called to serve in a conflict, but I still pay homage to those from our ranks who gave their lives, who kept us safe.
I think each poppy day of the sacrifice everyone has made until today.”
This story was inspired by a poem by: Jane Weir called: Poppies
Written for my GCSE Exam
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