Frank Sisco, 30 Mill Road, New Rochelle, NY 10804
Home office - 914.740.4422, Cell - 914.740.4422; Email – email@example.com
Copyright 2007 Frank Sisco
Life and Money - "Among the Papers"
By Frank Sisco, CPA, PFS
(Word count = 789 words plus "Across the Media" section (30 words) plus 61 words for About the Author)
That morning when I awoke, I had mixed feelings about visiting my parents, a few miles away in the southern end of New Rochelle, NY. I expected that the upcoming paperwork in connection with certain estate planning would be frustrating, and would hamper what would ordinarily be an enjoyable visit. My father, now 80, and my mother, 80 next January, are wonderful, loving people. Until a few years ago, they were full of life and quite active. But now life is changing. Their health has been declining, yet each of them struggle to maintain their vitality and independence as much as possible.
There I sat at their dining room table with the list I was given by the elder care attorney, whose firm I recently engaged for various aspects of estate planning and elder care strategies and the preparation of related documents. I'd ask my mother to bring me the records, files and data, everything from health insurance identification cards to marriage certificates. Then I'd organize them and check them off the list. After about 10 minutes, my father went into the first-floor guest bedroom for a nap. The phone rang and, as my mother answered it, I got to the item on the list marked "Military discharge papers." Now sitting alone, I opened the brown leatherette portfolio they kept of key papers, and there was a white business envelope that read in black block neat letters in my mother's handwriting "Frank's Navy Papers." As I opened it, I felt a surge of emotion envelope me, with tingling sensations in my back, hands and face. I found the folded thick certificate headed up "Honorable Discharge from the United States Navy" in a fancy font, signed by an official and with a seal dated May 25, 1946, and with a drawing of a navy ship on it. There was also a letter dated June 21, 1946 from The Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, to my father, which included the statement that "For your part in these achievements you deserve to be proud as long as you live. The Nation, which you served at a time of crisis, will remember you with gratitude." I could only imagine the value of such a letter for my father when he received it.
Next I came across a news clipping with a photo of my father, Frank Sisco, at 17 years old, in a Navy uniform. He was a member of the Navy's Seabees (CB - Construction Battalion) whose main job was to land on islands in the Pacific Ocean and elsewhere, building and making way for the arrival of troops. The clipping had my grandmother's writing at the top "Thurs., Oct. 4, 1945" and it was from the Daily Argus, the newspaper of Mt. Vernon, NY, where they lived. In addition to identifying my father, the third paragraph read "His brother, Private First Class, Joseph A. Sisco, is with the Fourth Marine Division in the Hawaiian Islands." They would meet up later on a Pacific island, Guam, but that's another story.
Then I saw a clipping from the Daily Mirror dated Thursday May 23, 1946 with the headline "6,685 In Biggest, Happiest Arrival" The large photo showed hundreds and hundreds of navy men, standing all over the ship with their hands raised, waving, and their faces beaming with joy of arriving back in the United States, coming home. A joyful photo!
I went into the guest bedroom and called for my father to wake up from his nap and look at something. He used his walker to come to the dining room table where I had laid out the papers from the past. First I showed him the Daily Argus article, and he smiled as he read it aloud. Then I handed him the Daily Mirror article and I could hear him choke up with emotion. He scanned the happy faces, hundreds of them in the photo. Then he looked intently at them. I realized who he was looking for. Himself. When he was 18, back then, when life was fresh and full of wonder and promise. My Dad then pointed to a young man and said. "That's me. Right here." In surprise that he could actually pick himself out of the hundreds of small images, I moved my head closer to the photo in the article and sure enough the image was that of my father. I turned to my mother and said happily, "Look, Mom. It's Dad."
What started as a day of expected drudgery consumed by papers became a day that lifted us all, as a result of finding things among the papers that brought back the memory of moments when life was lived fully. Perhaps it still could be.
For videoclips of the above-mentioned news clippings, documents and photos please see: www.VideoVoom.com, under the "People" category, and then under the "Unique and Unusual" subcategory.