Here’s the link to the beginning of the story, please share it with everyone and spread the Christmas Spirit far and wide (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/12/10/a-christmas-tale/)
“There was a time when I didn’t believe in the Christmas spirit.”
“You, grandpa? The guy who starts planning for next Christmas as soon as all the gifts are unwrapped?” Declan said.
His grandfather chuckled. “Very clever, Dec. But the truth is everybody has their doubts at some point.” He stood and put on his jacket. “Come on, let’s go for another walk.”
“Oh, not the cemetery again is it?”
“Well, as a matter of fact, it is. I want to introduce you to someone.”
Heading out the front door, the snow swirled around them. Whipped by the wind, the cold enveloped them.
“You pick all the best times to go hiking, grandpa.”
“Well, that way the hot chocolate will taste all the better.” Increasing his pace, they hurried by the gates into the graveyard. Walking through the rows, his grandfather would stop and dust the snow from the markers. Finally, he found what he was looking for.
The stone was plain and faded with age. An American flag stood flapping in the wind, almost buried in the snow. On the stone was a saying in quotes.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Sgt. Dennis O ’Riordan, USMC
In the corner of the stone was the emblem of the Medal of Honor.
Declan stood at the edge of the grave. “Did you know him, grandpa?” He thought he could see a tear in his grandfather’s eye, and he seemed lost in his thoughts. “Grandpa?” Declan reached over and took his hand.
“Oh, sorry Dec. I was just remembering Denny. Yes I knew him. We served together in Vietnam. I wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been for Denny. He saved my life and the life of almost everyone in our squad. He died so that all of us could live.”
“He was a hero wasn’t he, grandpa?”
“He is a hero, Even now he gives me the strength to carry on. I want to tell you a story about Denny, let’s go get that hot chocolate and I’ll tell you my grinch story.”
Sitting at the table at the coffee shop, Declan and his grandfather sipped the drinks. His grandfather was once again silent and sad, something Declan had never seen. “Grandpa, will you tell me the story?”
His grandfather forced a smile. “Okay, you’re old enough to hear some things about me you might never believe, but everything I will tell you is the truth.”
Taking a deep breath, he began.
“After Denny was killed saving us, I was very angry. I was mad at the Viet Cong we were fighting against for killing Denny. I wanted to go after all of them. I did some things after I am not proud of, but it was a war.
“When I got back to the US, I went to meet Denny’s wife. She was just a young nineteen-year-old girl with six-month-old twin boys to raise on her own. I was mad at the world for what happened to my friend in that unnecessary war. I started drinking a lot. I got into fights with people. I wanted to lash out at the world.”
Declan’s eyes grew wide as the tale went on. He couldn’t imagine this gentle, loving, funny man being anything but what he was today. He didn’t know what to say.
“One night, I got into a big fight. I took on three guys and didn’t make out so well. I ended up being taken by the police to the hospital. They were going to lock me up after the doctor treated me, but something happened.”
“What Grandpa? What happened?”
“Actually,” a smile grew on his face and his eyes sparkled. “It was more a who happened. Like the Whos in Whoville from the grinch story. The nurse, whose name was Peggy, convinced the cops to leave me with her. She said she had been a nurse in Vietnam and understood what I was going through.
“Several weeks later, I went to the hospital with flowers and asked her out. And guess what, she said yes. On the date we talked about Denny and all the things that happened. She asked me to take her to Denny’s grave.”
“Yup, and when I got there she told me to thank Denny, tell him you’ll take back control of your life, and move on. And at that moment, when I thanked Denny for giving his life for mine, it was like a burden being lifted from my shoulders. From that moment on, I enjoyed the life I was given.”
“Wow, did you ever tell grandma about this date?”
His grandfather laughed out loud. “Didn’t have to. The nurse was your grandmother. She’s the one who changed me from a grinch to what I am today.”
“Wow, that’s a great story. I’m glad you not a grinch anymore, grandpa.”
“So am I Declan, so am I.”