Black and White
Kayla walked into her great-grandmother's house, laptop under her arm. It was her on-going challenge to try to get gramma Louise onto the net.
"Hi child. How are you today?"
"OK - want to check your email and see if you have any?"
"No, not right now. But there is something else I'd like to try"
The old woman pulled out a letter, crumpled with repeated reading.
"This is from an old friend of mine. Thanks to you we just got back in touch with each other"
Kayla smilled at the recollection.
"She sent me a place on the net I'd like to see. Can you help me with it ?"
"Sure Gramma. Let me see it"
She unfolded the note and swiftly keyed in the address. Quickly a website popped up - it was totally foreign to Kayla, but she looked over to see her great-grandmother totally entranced.
"Honey show me how to get around here..."
Kayla showed again for what seemed the fiftieth time how to use the mouse. She was surprised as the older woman moved assertively in front of the monitor.
"Kayla go get yourself a coke..."
When Kayla returned she was amazed to watch the woman she had thought computer-illiterate easily handling the keyboard and mouse. She seemed lost in deep thought as she maneuvered quickly through endless photos of groups of men, old airplanes, and unfamiliar scenery. Suddenly she stopped, zoomed the photo she was looking at to fill the screen. Louise screamed, then began to wail. Through her tears she was repeating
"Oh God, I miss you..."
"What is it, gramma?"
It took a long time before she made a visible effort to pull herself together. She attended to the tears with kleenex, than began to explain.
"Honey, that is your great grandfather and his crew. He died right after that picture was taken, and I've never seen it before. He was a real hero."
"That was a long time ago, gramma?"
Kayla didn't know much about her great-grandfather except he had died before her grandfather was born.
"Yes child. During World War II. We were so proud of him. I met him at the beginning of his flight training. We were married then, and I only had a few months before he finished and he was gone. I had hardly any photos of him - we weren't supposed to take many back then. And when he was over in England some of his buddies had cameras, but they weren't allowed to send the photos home. So I've never seen these before."
She pointed to the picture of a dozen men in bulky clothes standing under a huge airplane. She pointed out one, a tall handsome man.
"That's your great-grandfather. Everyone of those boys was in my kitchen at one time or another. His copilot.."
She pointed to another of the black and white figures.
"...Jack and his wife were our best friends. I know Jack survived, but his wife was killed in an accident before he made it back. I always felt for him"
"Gramma, How did he die?"
"Honey you have to remember how close these men were, and how bad it was for them. Grampa Bill - I guess that's what you would call him..."
"...He was promoted again and again because everyone around him kept getting shot down. Anyway they were over Germany I think it was - I've never been sure. They had been hit a bunch of times by airplanes and guns. And the plane was going down. He kept the plane level enough that everyone else could get out..."
Her voice started to break.
"... and then it blew up before he could get out..."
She stood up and walked over to her credenza and opened one of the drawers. She handed a small box to Kayla. She opened the box, looking at the blue ribbon and gold.
"This is the highest honor our country has to give. And your grampa got it. In fact the president gave it to me himself"
"Gramma - really?"
She reached further in the drawer and pulled out a framed photo. Kayla looked in disbelief at the much younger image of the woman standing in front of her taking the box from the man she remembered from her history books.
"Oh my god..."
Kayla simply didn't know what to say.
"Kayla, I'd like to borrow your laptop until I get one of my own. Would that be OK?"
"Of course gramma"
"OK then - why don't you get on your way. I want to go through all these photos for a while. I'll be OK"
Late this week - had a funeral for a friend that took up most of my time until now. Really puts you in a reflective mood - thus the treatment of this week's theme...