Leaving on a trip to Canada constituted a bad anniversary present for my wife, but it’s not in the same ballpark as what my mom and dad received yesterday for their anniversary.
Yesterday, my mom received news that her father would need to go in for a medical procedure that involves general anesthetic. I won’t go into much detail here, but it is very risky for my grandfather.
He’ll be heading in for the procedure on Thursday, which is my 34th birthday. I’m hoping for a birthday present of good news from the doctor.
My grandfather, Walter Seeger, has always been involved in my life. For a few years, I lived across the street from my grandparents in a tiny rural Wisconsin town called Rome. He told me Bible stories when I was little. He took me fishing. We spent a lot of summer days on his pontoon boat. We had campfires on his beach. And he sang. He had a beautiful, deep voice that carried above all other voices in the crowd. Sometimes he would sing or speak to me in his parents language, German.
My grandpa is German by heritage, but American by birth. His story began in Milwaukee, WI with birth, schooling, and, immediately following graduation, being drafted into the US Army. He served his country in the 90th Infantry Division, aka the Tough ‘Ombres during the waning years of World War II.
My grandfather saw action in Normandy, France. He fought during the Battle of the Bulge. His unit liberated Flossenburg concentration camp. In spring 1945, the 90th linked up with General Patton’s 16th Armored Division and spent the last days of the war near Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, liberating that city and effectively striking the death blow to Nazi power in Europe.
It was a special surprise when our city leaders invited folks from Pilsen to speak at our downtown Meyer Theater in November 2013. We saw a screening of a documentary that aired on our local Fox affiliate. I also had the chance to introduce my grandfather to Pilsen’s current mayor who was very honored to meet someone who had helped liberate his city.
Since war’s end, my grandfather spent a career as a union mechanic and union negotiator for Pabst. He also raised three children with my grandmother, Victoria. He has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He has an quirky habit of assuming everyone else in the room, like him, is a union Democrat, and a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran. And he is notorious for telling jokes.
One day, I’ll share a greatest hits of my grandfather’s jokes. He does ascribe to the belief that if something is mildly humorous once, it will be hilarious the 100th time.
Check out a few minutes of the Return to Pilsen documentary: