My Uncle Joe, my dad's younger brother, turns 90 this weekend. It will be a bittersweet celebration over at the U.S. Veteran's Administration hospital in Lyons, New Jersey, because my uncle is a living reminder that our freedom isn't free. He was shot in the head while serving our country in World War II and has spent much of the past 70 years in the care of the U.S. Veteran's Administration, primarily at the VA hospital in Lyons. Despite the fact that Uncle Joe enlisted in the army to serve his country instead of going to the University of Alabama on a baseball scholarship, he has never seemed bitter about his incredible sacrifice. He has his good days and his bad days, and is extremely hard of hearing, but his eyes always light up when London and Maddie dance into his room to share their latest news.
Although my dad passed away just before Maddie was born, the rest of our family will gather on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Uncle Joe's 90th birthday. My sister is bringing him some art supplies, as he's always been a talented artist and has recently returned to sketching and painting, thanks to the support of the recreation director and her small staff at the VA nursing home. Uncle Joe is a big Yankees fan, so London and Maddie will bring him a new baseball cap. And of course, we'll bring him a big chocolate cake.... I don't know about the 90 candles.