My Dad, now 74, wants to go to the Netherlands American Cemetery, to touch the cross that marks the grave of his double cousin, raised as his brother, who died in WWII.
Boyd was adopted as a young toddler by my father's parents, because sister/brother married sister/brother and when Boyd's mother died, he became one of the five of my father's elder brothers. Boyd's last letter home talked of the risky venture he'd volunteered for -- parachuting into Holland. He knew he might die, he said. Sure enough, he did.
A flurry of emails this spring, translated by interpreters, has connected my father to the family living near the Belgian border in Holland, that has, for several generations, maintained his cousin/brother's grave. I've been involved helping my Dad help these adopters collect geneology information for the cemetery records. We never knew that a Dutch family places flowers on special days on Boyd's grave and have symbolically "stood in" for American families of soldiers who can not visit the graves of their loved ones.
My Dad once, long ago, expressed a desire to visit Boyd's grave. I've never really been aware of any other yearnings of my father. After this flurry, he's expressed this desire yet again. I hope my father can one day place his hand on the cross that marks the grave of Boyd and see his dream fulfilled.
This is the last email my father shared with me from the Holland family:
"When you are planning on coming to Holland in the future, we hope you will visit us. You are very welcome. And then we can visit the grave together."
Yesterday, Memorial Day in Margraten, flowers were placed on Boyd's grave by Jo and Finy Sparla. So on this Memorial Day I honor Boyd and the Sparla family who has, for several generations, tended Boyd's grave in Holland and I thank them for their efforts to contact us to let us know, after all these years, that someone there...cares.