The conversation started out in the same guarded way that our conversations do these days.
I could hear a question lingering in his voice, but I waited for him to decided to bring up whatever subject was eating at him.
"Um...Mom wants to know if you have Grandpa Bill's service flag."
My Opa was an American GI who drove an ambulance in Germany during the war. He was smitten on a sassy, strawberry blond Fraulein whose blue eyes haunted his dreams. He was a gentle man with a quiet sense of humor, or so I've been told. He died of brain cancer when I was five.
My Omi remarried a few years later. She married a man who was so strikingly similar to her first husband that my mother darn near passed out when she met the man who became her step father and the only Grandfather any of us kids would ever know. He too was a gentle man with a quiet sense of humor and had also served in the armed forces in Europe during the war.
"I don't have the flag, in fact I haven't seen it in years. The only things I have are the dishes that mom stole and hid at my house so Omi wouldn't know where they were."
Now, just between us, I have always felt terribly guilty about that little conspiracy, but I came clean with Omi and told her that I had her wedding dishes. She was glad to hear that I had them and my mother did not.
Of course, this is all just my word, there is no one left alive who can attest to my story. Well, other than my mother who can prove that she stole them from Omi and hid them at my house.
Ugh! Family is just ugly. UGLY I say!
I promised my brother that I don't have the flag, which is true. I honestly don't, but if I did, I would give it to him. I'm not going to fight over "stuff".
But the dishes....I figure sooner or later my mother is going to want these German wedding dishes. By all rights, they are hers, not mine. Yet, I cannot help but feel entitled to them. I was the one who had a relationship with Omi. I was the one who held her hand as she lay dying.
Then again, baby, it's just stuff and stuff just complicates things and makes people miserable. So, that being said, if she asks for the dishes I will hand them over...with just a little regret in my heart.
But I'll keep reminding myself that one day I will see Omi again and then neither one of us will care about a bunch of old dishes.
And that's enough for me.