Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Unexpected Visitors from an Old Story

It's always an interesting––and kind of surreal––experience when you meet someone in real life who you've heard stories about for a long time. That happened to me this evening.

Some of you who know me from life outside the blogosphere (or have have read this blog for a very long time) probably know that my Grandpa Wilber was a NAVY fighter pilot and became a P.O.W. in the Vietnam conflict. When his F4 was shot down over North Vietnam, the ejection system failed, and he only made it out of the cockpit a few seconds before the plane slammed into the ground. His radio officer, Bernie, didn't make it out at all.

My grandpa and Bernie were both reported Missing In Action, and since my grandpa spent the next five years in a Viet Kong prison, it wasn't until after the war that he was able to tell Bernie's surviving wife what had actually happened. Since she was Norwegian and was then living back in that country, he went there to meet with her in person––and took his whole family along to tour Europe.

So I'd heard my grandpa tell the story of Bernie countless times over the years, and heard my Dad tell about going to Norway to meet Bernie's widow (it was one of my favorite stories when I was little––if more for the parts about seeing real Viking longboats and eating fish than any duty to the family of my grandpa's fallen comrade). But in the end they were stories.

This evening, as we were sitting down to supper, we heard a knock on the door and looked out to see a Volvo in the driveway that none of us had noticed pull in. My Dad went out to see what they needed, and then called my Mom and I out too. It was Bernie's wife Ryden (I'm only guessing the spelling), who along with her husband had been in the US. They had stopped by to see if my grandparents were home, but unfortunately they were away for the week, and they decided to stop at our house and ask about them.

So my Dad introduced us, we talked and my Mom and Ryden both had me take some photos. Then they left, and I went back inside and ate supper. But just like that, I'd met someone from a story I'd known since I was little, and it's suddenly a little more than it was before.

(The couple on the right is my parents)


Rachel said...

Isn't it amazing when stuff like that happens? I love hearing stories from older generations.

mattea kiriel said...


That's so cool. I'm sorry to have missed it.