In my Dad’s last years when I did get to see him we didn’t have much to talk about which was not much different than when I lived at the house as a kid and a teenager and at breaks from college. He was already working at being detached and staring a lot which turned into his mo at and near the end.
He spent two years in Italy, France and Germany between 1943 and 45 as a rifleman in an infantry company. He saw the worst of the worst that people could do each other in the name of whatever name was being used that week. He may have even done the worst of the worst of things people can do to each other. He earned his thousand yard stare.
I can only piece his history together as he never spoke of what he had seen and done. All I have are scraps of information and maybe an anecdote from a relative who are either all gone now or on their way to being gone.
I think and I may be incorrect but when my Mom died my sister found the letters my Dad wrote to here from over there. They were married after he returned. He left as Person A and returned as Person B.
I don’t know where he went when he stared. Maybe he went nowhere or maybe he was right back there in what he liked to call ” Sunny Italy” which as everyone knows Italy was anything but during the war.
He never joined the VFW or the American Legion and to my recollection had packed up his WWll kit and kept it neatly stacked inside. Only there wasn’t anything neat or pretty or pleasant about it.
He had windows to silently stare out of. Maybe the soundtrack played in his head. Maybe it played a lot. Maybe it never went away.
He did come home in one piece I suppose but with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star and the Combat Infantry Badge I wonder how complete he really was.
I seem to recall that he was hospitalized once and as he recuperated at home in bed his midsection and chest were wrapped in bandages and there was some talk I overheard of shrapnel “working it’s way out.” This would have been sometime in the mid 1950’s a good ten years after Sunny Italy.
He never talked and we never talked and none of us ever talked and when I wanted to talk it was too late.