If you live in Massachusetts or if you're a Weather Channel aficionado, you probably think I titled this post "Christmas in March" because my town is supposed to get between a foot and a foot and a half of snow.
While that's true, that's not why I'm writing this post. This post has been a long time coming, and when I say a long time, I'm talking at least a decade.
You see, today is my paternal grandfather's birthday. If he were alive today, he would have been 105. He immigrated here when he was nine from Mexico according to some family members and according to others from Costa Rica.
In his twenties, he fought in WWII in Europe. He flew a B-26.
When I was in elementary school, he gifted my family an old-fashioned string of colored Christmas lights. Every year I looked forward to seeing our brick house turn into a rainbow of color. I still own them and yes, they're still up. The photo below is from this evening.
He died of Parkinson's my freshman year in college. But that's not the tragedy. The tragedy is that my family abandoned him for years in a nursing home. I still feel guilty about it after all these years. True, one could say I was just a teenager, it wasn't my fault. But in Illinois, teens get their licenses at 16. So, I could have driven to see him. But, I only did that one time. And he lived down the road from my high school... if you can call what he was doing living.
So every year I leave my Christmas lights up till his birthday to remember him, to remind myself that I can and will do better as my parents age.
But the past decade or so, I've wanted to do more. I'd thought about making a donation to charitable organization for veterans or a charitable organization for Parkinson's. But I never moved forward.
Then, in January, I was researching Christmas trees for one of my manuscripts and I came across Trees for Troops. And I knew. I knew that was the charity I'd been looking for.
Today, I made a recurring annual donation to Trees for Troops. Each year at least one family who serves our country will receive a tree, in memory of my grandfather, Charles Jean Palaces. And someone will smile. Just like I did when he gifted us our lights and just like I do every time they fill our yard with his love.
Happy birthday, Pa. I love you.