Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Grandfather

The boys with my Grandpa in July of 2010...
General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower....Commander of all allied forces in Europe. Presided over D-Day invasion of Normandy and was prepared to take full responsibility had it failed. Had to manage enormous personalities and egos in the likes of Patton and Montgomery.
LT. General Omar Bradley. What amazing pictures, right?
This was a general from the British Armed Forces, he also worked closely with other major players in World War II.
Here is my grandfather in the forefront of the picture. You can see Bradley and Eisenhower behind them in strategies. My grandfather, interpreted many things for them during strategic plannings.
OK... enough history for one day. Didn't think you'd come across this kind of stuff on my blog, right? Well... this post is more about my grandfather that would have been 96 today. We will miss him... check out what a life he had:

John Joseph Oliva was born on February 19, 1916 in Pasadena, California. He entered the Dominquez Seminary from August 1927 to June 1932. He left the seminary in l932 and attended John Muir High School for his junior and senior year and graduated in June 1934. He attended night school at Pasadena Business College for two years. From l942 to l946 John served as a Lieutenant in the Armed Forces. In December 1943 he was sent to the British Intelligence School and graduated in l944, was transferred to Bristol, England and served there until after D Day. Upon reassignment to Paris, France in 1944 he met his wife to be, Raymonde Jeane DeCarnelle. He was then transferred to Germany and assigned to Counter Intelligence Service until August 1945. While still in Germany he was transferred to take charge of a receiving warehouse for the Army Quartermaster. On August 18, 1945 John and Raymonde were married in France. He returned shortly to the United States to be discharged and then came back to France where he had the opportunity to work for the U.S. Embassy until November 1948. He then brought his family to the United States and settled in Altadena, CA. In February 1955 John opened and operated a Retail Liquor Business in Burbank, Ca. with his three brothers and continued in this profession until l981 when he retired. John and Raymonde moved in 1981 to San Juan Capistrano in the Rancho Alipaz Mobile Home Park and worked actively in the Park for many years. Raymonde passed away in November 2006 after 61 years of marriage.His remaining days were spent quietly at home and in the company of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

That was his eulogy and still... yet,there was a lot more to him. He was a self taught pianist and he could play anything he heard by ear. He had taught himself to read sheet music and could cook a mean meatball. He spoke 7 different languages and was an interrogator and interpreter in WWII. He had to do some heinous things in WWII and I think between that and seminary, he developed a sometimes unapproachable, tougher, mean outer shell. He was brusque, strict and funny. He was a tough one to grow up with but I had the good fortune to learn some of the reasons why he was who he was in the last 15 years of his life. He had a tough, hard life. He wasn't my favorite grandfather growing up but he was always there if we needed him. I do feel so blessed that I had made a habit of calling him once a week.... it was kind of a weekly phone date between he and I. I had discovered that he had grown softer and kinder in his last 10 years of life. He loved his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren very much. Although the words, "I love you" did not grace his lips often, I knew that he cared... deeply. He passed away this last December and I realize every day that I could have never gotten to know enough about him.... I miss him. I often think about all of my grandparents and live with the sad fact that I never had enough days with them. So many questions to ask... so many stories to be heard. I can't stand this getting older stuff. :( And so I wanted to honor him here on his birthday. I look forward to documenting his life with these awesome pictures from his life in the Army. There are hundreds... literally. I want to document all of my grandparents life eventually. They were so outstanding in so many ways and I want my boys to know all about each one of them. Now... why can't we have this appreciation for their lives when they are around? Right?
So, moral of the story: take the time with your living relatives and friends. Learn their stories, understand why they are the people they are.... I loved my grandparents and wish they were all here to be told that. What amazing lives they led.... This was the very last time I got to see my grandfather alive. It was one of the hardest things about moving out to Colorado. Most of my friends and family are all still in California. I miss you guys!!

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