As I stand here gazing at the calm waves, I think about my grandmother, Maude. A lovely woman who was a nurse during the second World War. She was twenty-three at the time. I can still remember the sadness in her eyes when she spoke of the young soldiers who died. There was one particular soldier whom she would never forget. Every time she talked about him, her voice broke and tears sprang to her eyes.
“I will never forget that boy,” she said. “He must have been about seventeen years old. He had a boyish face. I thought to myself, it’s a pity that someone so young was fighting in this terrible war. He wasn’t badly hurt. One night when I went and checked on him, he asked me, “Nurse, could you write a letter to my mother and tell her that I’m in hospital?”
“I told him, ‘I’ll write it when I come back later.’ All he said was, ‘Okay'” and then I left. When I returned later that evening, he was dead.” It was at that point that she broke down. “If I had known that he was going to die, I would have written the letter when he asked me. If only I had stayed. That boy never got to say goodbye to his mother because of me.”
For years, she has lived with this regret. Even after she married my grandfather and they had four wonderful kids, she never seemed completely happy. There was always a sadness in her countenance and it was years later when I found out the reason for it. A young soldier whose name she didn’t know who had made a simple request of her because he knew he wasn’t going to make it through the night. My grandmother thought that the letter could wait but she was wrong. She made a choice that she had to live with.
Sometimes I think about that soldier whose single thought was of his mother. I think of her. As a mother, myself, I can’t imagine how I would feel if my son was away at war and I had no idea where he was–if he was hurt or even still alive. Did that mother pray for her son–that he was still alive and would return home one day? I can’t imagine how she must have felt when she found out that he had died in a hospital so many miles away from home.
When I leave here, I will go to the chapel and light three candles–one for my grandmother, one for the young soldier and one for his mother. War is a terrible thing but I will always be eternally grateful to the brave soldiers, the unsung heroes like the young man, who gave their lives to win the war against the evil Nazi regime and for our freedom.
This story was inspired by a true account of a nurse who was asked by a soldier to write a letter to his mother but she told him that she would write it later. When she returned to the hospital, the soldier had died.
Today is D-day. Let us remember all those who sacrificed their lives and those who survived and the dedicated doctors and nurses who cared for the wounded.
This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Choices at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.