This past Sunday, we hosted a reunion of the group who made the Charlie Brennan promoted Paris to Normandy river cruise. Charlie’s wife Beth brought the food while Charlie brought Charlie Shive, the World War II vet who’d come ashore at Omaha Beach, not on June 6th, but in July of 1944. Revisiting Omaha in August had obviously been a moving experience for Mr. Shive, and it was so for all of us who traveled with him as well.
Mr. Shive isn’t spry and nimble any more, but he is one determined dude. At Omaha, he wanted to get down to the sand and to the surf line. There were concrete steps with large rises. Even the spry and nimble had to negotiate those steps with care. Some tried to dissuade Mr. Shive from making the attempt, but he pushed their restraining hands away, plopped down on the top step, and scooted on his butt down to the sand. Then with his cane, and a steadying hand at an elbow (provided by Charlie Brennan) Mr. Shive walked out to the surf line where a gentle wave reached up to kiss his feet.
Sunday at our house, I was on some errand and walked into a press of bodies around Mr. Shive. Mr. Shive’s cane was lying on the floor. He put his foot on the handle of the cane and rolled his foot over the handle to elevate the long part of the cane to where he could grab it. He got it half way up, and then it seemed as if he couldn’t get it the rest of the way. I stuck my finger out to hold the cane so he could reposition his foot and get it up the rest of the way. He pushed my hand out of the way, let the cane drop to the floor again, and then demonstrated how he would retrieve his cane, all by himself, without no help from nobody, if he dropped it. Okay then.
Mr. Shive reminded me powerfully of my father. He would bust a gut doing a job himself that took three men to do. Anything to avoid asking someone for help. Maybe they were the greatest generation.