Opinion: My new memory of Veterans Day

The plan was to let my son call my dad on the way to school this morning. My parents had taken my boys to a Veterans Day parade in Dalton during a visit last weekend, and the older one in particular was impressed. He wanted to wish his Army Ranger-turned-Gramps well on the occasion.

Instead, 45 minutes before we would get in the car, it was my dad who called me. His mother, my last living grandparent, had passed away during the night.

Jessie

Like other women of her generation, Jessie B. Wingfield did not serve in the armed forces. She was probably best known, by those who knew her, for teaching English for nearly half of her 90 years at Trion High School. Still, I find it somewhat fitting that she should go to her reward on Veterans Day.

Jessie — that’s all I ever called her — grew up on a farm in LaGuardo, Tennessee, not far from where the Cumberland River was dammed to create Old Hickory Lake. Before the nearby farmland, including some of her daddy’s, was flooded, it was used by the Army to conduct weekend maneuvers with troops bound for the topographically similar battlefields of Western Europe. The Army could be hell on the land and the fences that crossed it, Jessie often recounted. The soldiers sometimes thanked them by leaving behind precious unused rations of coffee and sugar.

During much of World War II, Jessie attended what is now Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. (She was justifiably proud that her parents managed to send all four of their girls to college during such difficult times.) The Army Air Corps had a training field there, and Jessie worked a part-time clerical job in support of that program between classes.

The man who became her husband and my Papa, Marion Wingfield, came ashore at Normandy in the days after D-Day. He died 25 Memorial Days ago, an easy date to remember even though he made it home from over there.

There’s no day set aside, as far as I’m aware, to commemorate the many sacrifices of those on the home front. What they do isn’t the same as those who put on the uniform, of course, but they are an important part of the whole nonetheless. From now on, for Jessie, this is the day I’ll think of them, too.

Reader Comments 0

20 comments
WGA1990
WGA1990

Kyle, I'm sorry for your loss, my condolences to you and your family. We may lose a loved one but their memory lives on.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

A sweet tribute, Kyle. Seein's how Papa chose Jessie to be his partner in life, she was a veteran's preference. An honor in and of... 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your Grandmother. May she rest in eternal peace.

Lynn43
Lynn43

Mrs. Wingfield was my teacher, and my inspiration.  I wanted to be a wonderful, caring teacher like her. Of the thousands of students she taught, everyone will tell you that she was their favorite. She taught with a quiet voice and tough love. She was the reason so many of her students became published authors.  She will be greatly missed and never forgotten by the students and alumni of Trion High School.  Thank you, my friend and favorite teacher. 

Trefusis
Trefusis

You're not supposed to be so touching an elegant writer.  You're "financial", remember.  Oh, thank you for this.  I've got quite a similar story to swap from today, out here in Cobb, but of course this isn't the time.  It's never clear to me how to offer condolence to someone like you for whom the departed is somehow present, even promoted. I am really sorry that you cannot see her for the time being.  What you said gripped me because, bad man that I am, I spent the day with very elderly widows of gorgeous young men upon whom they'd placed every youthful hope and plan.  What you say is so true that it fairly breaks my heart.


Out here we have an expanding prayer circle, because I tell you we need it.  Us Methodists, and sisters and brothers amongst the Baptist creed, and Catholics and Anglicans and rabbinical friends and apprentice Jews, and some really lovely agnostics schooled in the Buddhist tradition.  It's interesting, and ever changing.  Expanding.  Without your permission we put Jessie B. into prayer immediately.  Which is sort of funny, Kyle, because in Greek Scripture God makes it quite clear that He is asynchronous and finds our sense of time ridiculous.  In part I guess that means that you and your beloved grandmother shall be reunited before either of you knows.  "Before you were, I Am."

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Sorry for your loss, Kyle.  I still think of my grandparents almost every day, they are such an inspiration to all of us. 

PinkoNeoConLibertarian
PinkoNeoConLibertarian

It sounds like she was a wonderful and accomplished woman. I'm sure she was every bit as proud of you as you are of her. 


My best wishes to you and yours in this mournful time.


IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

Sorry for the loss, Kyle. 


Sounds like she's in the Father's House now.




straker
straker

"Army to conduct weekend maneuvers"


When I was a small child in Auburntown, Tenn., which may not be that far from LaGuardo, a large number of Army personnel and their tanks conducted maneuvers there. I vividly remember standing in my front yard and waving to the soldiers as they drove by in their tanks.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I am sorry for your loss.  It is hard to lose a grandparent.

Tiberius-Constitutionus
Tiberius-Constitutionus

I wish you long life, Kyle (the custom in my religion, in case you're not aware). May she rest in peace.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Such a wonderful tribute, Kyle. Thanks for sharing.


And everything Penses and Cais said as well.


How's your eldest son handling this? (if that's not too personal a question.)

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@stands_for_decibels Actually, I haven't told him yet. (We called my father-in-law instead, also a vet.) We have had a couple of other older relatives pass away in the last couple of years, so I think he will be OK with it. But thanks for asking.

Penses
Penses

Sounds like she was a great lady,one who was blessed with a long life. No doubt she has had an indelible influence upon you, Kyle. May she be warmly received in the next life and may you be consoled by good memories. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Penses She had quite an influence on me. She loved to give me little grammar quizzes once I got to be a certain age. I credit her and my time with the AP for the fact I make relatively few typos.

Caius
Caius

Beautiful thoughts Kyle.

Condolences on the loss of your dear Jessie.