In honour of Remembrance Day, I will talk about my two grandfathers who fought for our futures.

My matrilineal grandfather, Shelly, just passed away a year ago and although he barely talked about his time in the war, he was remembered for his contributions to our freedoms. When I was about sixteen, I asked my grandfather about his time in the war and he was very stoic about it. Really the only thing I knew is that he got a tattoo during the war to which he said he regretted. It was Wile E. Coyote. As a child, I thought it was funny that he would have that tattoo, but really it spoke volumes to who he was as an individual. He was wile. He never gave up. He also had quite the sense of humour. At the time of his funeral, I learned he was a phone operator at a communications hub for the Canadian Army. Although, he never saw battle, he was still involved and admired for his contributions. 

My patrilineal grandfather, Nenad (Deda: grandfather in Serbian), and I were not close at all, but as an adult I got to know him more. Again, he was stoic about his time in the war and when pressed for information, he would tell funny stories.  As a young man, Deda traversed from Yugoslavia to Italy. I was so interested to find out that Deda fought for Italy in the Balkans. Deda told me that water was scarce during the Balkan war and I am sure it is through any war; so they would brush their teeth with champagne because it was easier to obtain. I think my eyes looked the size of saucers when he told me that.

Of course my impression of war is always dark and ominous and seeing the humour in an otherwise unhumourous situation was enlightening. Just like Shelly, Nenad never told me about the things he witnessed of which I am sure were horrific. It wasn't in their nature to complain or even talk about their feelings. 

I do not know exactly what my two grandfathers experienced in the wars they were involved in, but I know they were extraordinary and brave men. For them and for all the men and women that have sacrificed their well-being for ours,


~Jennifer Ward

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