I’ve been playing Sniper Elite 5 on the PlayStation 5 lately, because setting the difficulty to something obscenely low and shooting Nazis in the face from a hundred yards away has been about where my brain has been at lately. I like this series, but not as anything I take seriously; I don’t want to be challenged in Sniper Elite 5. I want to be an invincible force of death. I want the Nazis to tell their children that I’ll find them if they’re not quiet and well-behaved, and then I want those kids to tell me where their parents are, because their parents are Nazis and that means I can shoot them in the face.
Also, it’s the anniversary of D-Day. Also also, any time the anniversary of D-Day rolls around, I start thinking about my grandfather, who wasn’t actually at D-Day but joined the Allied assault in France a bit later, eventually being wounded in the Battle of Nancy, being handed a Purple Heart, and rotated back Stateside with a piece of a mortar shell in his ankle that, presumably, is still in his coffin with him, since the surgeons never bothered to remove it.
And today something hit me: I have an aunt named Nancy. And I tried to think about the timeline, and ended up calling another one of my aunts, the one I can bother relatively early in the morning with nonsense like this, and asked her about the timeline between Grandpa getting home and Nancy being born and named. Had my grandfather named my aunt after the battle in which he’d been wounded? It seemed possible, at least; I had to know.
No, as it turns out. Grandma was pregnant with Nancy when Grandpa shipped out, and she was born while he was overseas and named him herself. Tantalizingly, though, apparently my grandmother named Nancy herself and wrote Grandpa and told him the name, and my aunt tells me that his response was that she should “take it (the name, not my aunt) out and bury it, because it stinks.”
It is perhaps indicative of the type of woman my grandmother was– this is the one the name Siler comes from, by the way– that she ignored his, uh, suggestion, and her second daughter kept the name that she gave her. It’s also possibly an indication that Grandpa knew when he wrote the letter where he was heading and where he was likely to see combat, but I’d have to know a lot more about timelines– they’re both gone, so who knows where those letters might be– before I could make a supposition like that.
This led, somehow, to a conversation about the timing of the conception of various and sundry of my relatives; turns out one of my cousins is the product of a “lunch quickie,” and that my grandparents were in the house when another of my cousins from her was conceived. I changed the subject as soon as the phrase “lunch quickie” came up, by the way.
(My birthday is July 5; my mom’s was October 3. I have always assumed I was a birthday present; Dad, if that was not the case, I don’t need further details.)