As I grow older, I often wonder about my family members and the homes they’ve lived in for so long. I would wonder about my “Grandma’s house” and who would take care of cleaning it out when the time came.
This summer, the wondering stopped and the time came. The task of cleaning out and selling Grandma’s house came down to my sister and I. We’ve spent 8 weekends cleaning out my gram’s house. 103 years; generations of my family having lived in a house built by my family after they had arrived from Poland, but known to my sister and me simply as “Grandma’s House”.
Going through the house, room by room, became a journey through time.
We started in the attic. A wonderful old dusty place with wooden floors, peaked roof areas over each window and a “secret” room. We never had the nerve as kids to venture too far into the attic. To us it was a dark place filled with dust, funny smells and “stuff” we were afraid to dig into.
Forty years later, we found ourselves in that dark, dusty place, going through each box and digging into every corner. To our surprise we found a door with an old metal latch on it. Funny how time plays with your mind; as we stood in front of that door, wondering who had the nerve to pull the latch and peer in. My sister and I looked at each other, laughed, and then I reached out and opened the door.
A small room, filled with boxes covered in years of dust; a room filled with items from time gone by.
I came across an old blue box. I wiped the dust away, opened the lid and looked upon an old American flag; the colors faded by time and hosting 48 stars. I recalled my Aunt telling me there may be a flag “somewhere” that had draped “Uncle Eddies” casket during his funeral.
Holding that old flag in an attic filled with boxes, dust and years of memories had me pausing for a minute.
I slowly removed the flag from the box, unfolded it and held it up. I stood, holding it towards a dusty window with faded light coming through and dust motes floating in the air. An old American flag, from an era gone by, yet still able to fill my heart with emotion.
“This must be Uncle Eddie’s flag” I said to my sister. We never knew Uncle Eddie, we didn’t even know we had an Uncle Eddie, but upon pulling that flag out of a box long since closed and put in an attic, we were introduced to our Uncle Eddie.
Eddie Wojcik served in the Army during World War II and died a year after his return from injuries he sustained during the war.
That’s all we know. One sentence. The only information we were able to retrieve as those family members who knew Uncle Eddie have long since passed away, taking their memories and the story of his life with them.
It’s been several weeks since I found that flag. Tonight, decades later and in my own home, I pulled that faded flag out of the box once again. I unfolded it and held it up. The kitchen ceiling lights showing through the threadbare areas and giving a yellow color to the 48 stars with the smells of Gram’s attic and dust still clinging to it.
I gently lay the flag upon my counter, wondering yet again about the man whose casket this flag covered. I carefully refolded it and with each fold said a prayer and thanked my “Uncle Eddie” for his time and life, given for our country.
That old flag, a symbol of our country. That old flag that so many have fought and died for. That old flag, thinned out and faded by time will now reside in my home.
Maybe it was meant to be found, decades after it had been placed in the attic, by a family member who had yet to be born when it draped the casket of a man who had served our country. A gentle reminder to never forget those men and women from an era all but gone from us. A gentle reminder to never forget what those men and women gave of themselves for our country.
Thank you “Uncle Eddie”, I won’t forget.
May God bless America and all those who have given so much to her.