Folks, this is just a quick note to tell you that if I seem a little detached from the Blogosphere, there’s a reason for it.
My father-in-law died Thursday, and so we gathered up all of our kids and in some cases their kids, and made our way in three cars to Memphis through all that messy winter weather. We got here safely, thank the Lord. I am typing this at that Starbucks I mentioned several weeks ago.
My father-in-law, Walter Joseph Phelan Jr., lived a full and worthwhile life. I was thinking yesterday as we mucked through the ice and snow about some of the far-harsher hardships he endured along the way. He was there in the Ardennes in late 1944, the coldest winter in Europe in a century, when the massive, unexpected German attack came. He was a member of the ill-fated 106th Infantry Division (like Kurt Vonnegut). That means he was right at the point of the German spear, right where it smashed through the Allied lines. A friend fell right beside him in the snow, victim of a bullet he felt was meant for him. If he had been the one it found, I’d never have met my wife, and our children and grandchildren wouldn’t exist.
Like Vonnegut and thousands of others, he was captured and held in a German stalag in the last months of the war, when the Germans didn’t even have enough food for themselves, much less for prisoners. After that experience, he never wanted to go to Europe again, and didn’t.
That’s not much of a eulogy, just a glimpse into a life, but I have to get back to the house now. Fortunately the sun is shining down on the ice now — sort of like when it cleared and allowed Allied air cover to be employed again, too late to help the 106th, but in time for the 101st in Bastogne…