“Once upon a time, a long, long time ago,” began John Ficke, my daddy.
Daddy always read to me and told me stories at night before I went to sleep. That is, he always read to me after he came back from “The War”.
He was gone the first three years of my life. He fought with General George Patton’s 3rd Army, walking through Europe in snow and cold, in situations of kill or be killed, protecting me from the terror of Nazism.
He was a decorated hero on D-Day because he flew to France from England in what he termed a “paper plane”…the American gliders, many of which were shot down or crash landed, leaving their occupants dead or dying.
Daddy’s plane glided to safety behind the German lines, and he called in fire on his located, hoping the American guns would miss him and hit the enemy.
Daddy didn’t come straight home after the war, either. He contracted tuberculosis while the war raged, and he was sent to a TB hospital for many months to be “cured”.
I was never allowed to kiss Daddy on the lips, and we were never allowed to drink from other peoples’ glass, for fear the TB would be spread.
Finally in the spring of 1946, Daddy was allowed to come home for good. He had visited once shortly after his return to the states, but, now, at night, he was able to tuck me in, to tell me stories of his childhood and his war, and to show me how much his daughter meant to him.
It’s been 45 years since I’ve heard his voice, but I can still hear him as he tells me, “once upon a time, a long, long time ago…”
P.S. for all you youngsters, “The War” was WWII.