Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. June 2019
True story with fictitious names
Before I make a right turn into the wing of our 5th floor apartment, I always walk a few feet farther toward the huge window to admire God’s beauty on our campus. I had just played “America the Beautiful” on piano during the Monday Catholic service on the 4th floor. A little later, residents in Assisted Living tapped their feet while I played “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, “The Marines’ Hymn”, “Caissons Go Rolling Along”, “Anchors Aweigh”, and “The U.S. Air Force”.
Today was special. It was Memorial Day. I sat on the couch by the window to let my thoughts think. What a beautiful blue sky, in contrast to the years that made today so very necessary. I actually heard real-life events of those who miraculously survived. And I realize that most reveal their stories only when I inquire.
Earlier, Joe’s eyes bulged, “Oh, I’ll tell you!” He subjected himself totally into the action from years past: “deepest pits of hell” when he and his buddies arrived at different beaches, firearms blasting from behind concrete bunkers killing most of them before they reached the sand. The foxholes… He elaborated on and on, but ended to go to lunch.
Back to my window, my thoughts get a needed pick up as I noted several women moving down below my window A woman was moving her chair-walker forward in the half-circle driveway to our Quinault building. Her head scanned the lovely greens, flowered bushes, and tall pines. I automatically waved when her eyes spanned past my window, but I knew she hadn’t noticed. Looking down over at two other womenfolk leaving our building entrance, I grinned as they paused to talk with a couple sitting on the bench on the left.
I also noted a quick, light gait from a woman heading alone toward the back entrance to Panorama Hall. Her small plate was covered with a paper napkin with its corner flapping in the wind. Mary’s probably taking home some of Susan’s fancy dessert. They’re both Gold Star widows. We can’t let the narratives tucked in the hearts of these military survivors fade away forgotten. Stories go to the grave across the nation every day.
I had just visited with a woman who had given birth to a little girl the day after her husband was deployed. Two years later, when they met him at the airport, the little one reached out, “Daddy?” My 90-year-old friend smiled. “I showed her his photo every day, so she would recognize him.”
My bird’s eye view talks to me each day. Breathing deeply, I smiled and gazed over toward McGandy Park again, dotting a tear as I thanked God and those who died for my freedom.
The spirit of Memorial Day should be in our hearts every day as we honor the heroic men and women who gave their lives and fought to protect our nation, particularly those here at Panorama. Sincere THANKS to each of you.