Many traits are passed down from generation to generation.
Can memories or experiences can also be passed down? I share my fathers love of the wilderness, my mother’s love of the written word. But I can’t see through their eyes.
My Grandfather, Dapper, fought in WWI. I’ve tried to put myself in his boots so I could write about what he saw and how he felt. The fear, the sorrow, the will to live.
Especially the will to live. What took him from Windermere, a young man, to the mud of Passchendaele, where he fought and was wounded? And then, back to Windermere with a young family, but a very different man.
I have tried looking inside myself to see what he saw, but I can’t see it. Maybe his unwillingness to talk or think about it was a way of sheltering us.
When I was a young boy and Dapper was old and dieing we shared a room together in the hospital. I had encephalitis. Dapper was eighty-three. When the doctor came to take my blood. Granddad got out of bed and walked across the room. I remember looking at him earlier and wondering if he could walk. His hair was parted on the side, like usual, and not all grey. He was thin and boney and his legs showed bare under the hospital gown.
The doctor was readying the needle. Dapper said, “Be careful with the boy, he’s my grandson, you’d better not do to him what you did to me.”
Dapper held a darkened bruised arm up to the doctor.
The doctor was extra careful finding my tiny vein while Dapper, old and wounded, stood watch.
Over the next two weeks we were both close to death in that room. We both got out. Dapper died not long after, while I went on.