Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chapter 2: It's Never Enough

On July 4, 2010 my dad marched in the Skokie Parade carrying a flag for the local chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars.

This was a proud day for him and while we were all tired from the day before we had to be sure to get there. He called a couple times to let us know when we should make our way over but of course we left at the last minute and almost missed him! I didn't really want to go and my mom spent the entire morning in the garden. I thought she knew what time to leave but when I went out to get her she was totally unprepared. Magically we made it. I wasn't expecting to go to the VFW offices afterwards but Dad wanted us to meet the gang.

For the most part the men are considerably older than Dad. They were in World War II and now talk about their ailments endlessly. Dad and a guy in his seventies are considered the "kids" there. The older members are always talking about how they need to get more young guys in like Dad. They actually borrowed some local active service members to carry the flags too because the old guys couldn't do it in the heat.

I went to the VFW with Dad once before. They had a dinner party that was going to announce Dad as their new member and Mom didn't want to go. She thought it was ridiculous for him to spend time with these old guys, but may have changed her mind since the parade. So I ended up as Dad's date to the party. I knew the crowd at VFW was older so I was pretty sure they were going to be decked out, but Dad said, no no. It's casual I'm sure. Nope! We were definitely the only ones there in casual clothing, (me in jeans!) while these old timers wore suits and evening dresses. Shit. I totally stuck out.

Wow can these folks dance! A man played the keyboard and the old couples got up to the floor to shake a leg. Some couples danced to every single song. I admit to getting teary when watching them dance to "Young At Heart."

There was one lady there that must have been in her 90s but she slowly danced with as many men as possible. Old flirt! I actually saw her sit on some "younger" guy's lap! I was worried she was going to come over and steal my dad.

During a break one of the men at our table came up to do announcements and then introduced Dad as the newest and youngest member. He mentioned that Dad brought his lovely wife, Aviva. Dad was completely humiliated worried that these guys thought he was a dirty old man, but in truth it was pretty obvious that I was the daughter. The guy making announcements just gets confused sometimes.

At the table we talked about how they want younger members to join. They have a huge space that can be rented for parties and they have a huge surplus of money that they'd like to keep in the community. For example, last year they donated enough money to extend the children's wing at a hospital. If they don't get more members headquarters will close their branch and the money will go to the national VFW fund. They said that they tried everything to get younger members in; yellow pages, mailings, etc. I asked them if they had a website for the local branch but they looked very confused. They asked Dad if it was legal for them to have a website and wanted to know how much it costs. Dad said he would help them out with this and also suggested having a booth at one of the many summer fairs in the area. They looked astonished. It was cute.

The guys said that they rented the space out for some children's birthday parties and baby showers but the caretaker protested. The smell of the diapers was too much for him and that put a stop to it.

I think it gives Dad something to look forward to during this time of unemployment. He gets to help out interesting people that weren't in his life before, and it's got to be a boost being called the kid of the group especially the day after his 60th birthday.

So on July 4th we hung out at the VFW for the afternoon but had to hurry home as Mom planned a surprise party for Dad. I asked her if she was nuts because I felt we did enough yesterday but she said that was my present and she wanted to give Dad a party. A party in which he will be doing all the grilling and she will invite all her Russian friends. We needed to get to the store and buy meat and do everything in access as usual.

"But Mom, we ate an entire animal each yesterday! Are you sure you want to do this? I feel exhausted."

"It's Dad's birthday and now it's the 4th. We are having a party and you are going."

It's never enough....


  1. My parents spent a lot of time at VFWs the last few years before he passed. I know they sometimes got kinda tired of the stuff they had to do (they were heavily involved with various committees there) and mom won't step foot in the place. But. I know they did have a lot of good times there with true peers who deserve our respect for what they've sacrificed for us.

    Great post, Tasha.

  2. Thank you for that! What a lovely memory to share. My dad has recently made them a website and they love it! Of course they are the only chapter in the area without one but I think it's cute that Dad wants to help these guys out. It looks like the branch is doomed though. They don't have enough young guys to take it over and it's sad. It's like a lost inheritance.