Family, History, War

Auntie Pat Weighs In On the 75th Anniversary of Operation Overlord–Two Years On

This post is two years old–from June 6, 2019, but the sentiments, and the gratitude, to all those who served in the Allied armed forces, and to all those who endured the “miserable slog” on the home front–never grow old.  Thank you. (Auntie Pat will be 98 years old next month; may she live forever.)

I just got off the phone with her and–shameless self-promotion alert–she’ll be 96 next month, and is my Dad’s last surviving sibling. I phoned her because yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the day Dad happened to the Pope (another one). I had in mind to ask her about something else, and as a result was taping the conversation (as she knows I sometimes do). And in the course of our chat, she mentioned that she’d been enjoying the D-Day commemorative exercises on the television, and that Donald Trump had been visiting the UK.

“Oh, yes,” I said. And he seems to have done pretty well, don’t you think?” And here’s how it went from there:

Auntie Pat: Well, yes. Except for those stupid people stomping about waving things. Makes me furious, because, you know, they’re all sitting pretty because of the fact that America came into the war. If it hadn’t been for the Americans, we shouldn’t be here.

She: Right.

Auntie Pat: Well, it’s true.

She: Yes, I know.

Auntie Pat: We had not enough troops. I mean, there’s no argument about it. It makes me very cross. I mean, here’s the elected member of the, umm, society, and so he should be treated with respect. He may say stupid things sometimes, but he read quite a nice thing actually, which was quite good, and he did very well, and he’s coming home tomorrow, isn’t he?

Auntie Pat was 20 on 6 June 1944, and what she has to say about that, and everything else, is always worth listening to. I wish there was a way to bottle her and keep her, and her memories, with us forever. (I’m doing my best here, thanks for bearing with me.)

Like many baby boomers, I grew up in the shadow of the greatest generation, with first hand accounts not only from the troops, but also of what it was like when every member of the population on the home front actually was “war-weary” and suffering privation of one sort or another along with them. It wasn’t an occasional, or a particular, or an incidental, or a boutique war which affected only those intimately involved with it. It was a monumental, existential, all-encompassing, shattering grind. I’ve always thought that one of Pat’s most cogent and heart-rending comments (sorry, yet another one, I’ve been here almost nine years, and I’m extraordinarily verbally facile) was that the ten years of continued rationing in the almost-destroyed Britain after the war was over was even worse than the war itself–“Well, you see,” she said, “there was no point. After all, we’d already won. Nothing we did helped or make a difference any more. It was just a miserable slog.”

Yet it was a miserable slog they embraced and survived. As you do. Or as you used to. When people believed that the world revolved around something other than themselves, and that even though they couldn’t see the point right then, perhaps there was one after all.

And so, here I am to make it for her.

United States of America, Auntie Pat thanks you.

And so do I.

2 thoughts on “Auntie Pat Weighs In On the 75th Anniversary of Operation Overlord–Two Years On”

  1. And on Friday I was so proud of her. She’s got two phones; and for the most part she can work them independently of each other. Sometimes however she puts one down on her lap without hanging up.

    So it came to be on Friday afternoon that I could overhear some scammer trying to rattle her cage when they called her on the other phone and tried to get personal data from her.

    I could only hear her end of the conversation. But it went a bit like this:
    “who are you, what do you want”
    “put it in writing, I’m not dealing with anything that’s not in writing”
    “what’s my name? Well, you should know that”
    “You say I owe you money, so put your concerns in writing”
    “if I owe you money you should know what my address is”
    “who are you”

    She then hung up on them – thankfully correctly.

    What sort of low life rat bastard preys on old ladies like auntie Pat. May they rot in eternal Hell! And may every old person they try to scam be as forthright and alert as dear old Pat.

    1. What sort of low life rat bastard preys on old ladies like auntie Pat?

      Clearly, one of those sorts of low-life bastards who doesn’t know the family, or who thinks, for some reason, that he’s irresistible to women of any age!

      Certainly, I’m doing my bit to hold the side up, and I do believe that one doesn’t have to look very far to find the fruit that’s fallen from the tree when it comes to my siblings, either.


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