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Today is Thanksgiving. Last Thanksgiving was a painful one for me — the first Thanksgiving without having my mother around to ‘whip’ the potatoes. This was her specialty and yearly job in the prep, a task she took pride in. I was living in Europe and opted to skip the holiday entirely. I had dinner with my friends, Michele and Jacques, in Strasbourg, France, and no one made any mention of the Thanksgiving Holiday.

This year, it was important for me to celebrate the holiday, even though I miss both of my deceased parents very much. But I had an unexpected¬† ‘Thanksgiving Gift!’

On Sunday evening, my cell phone rang and the number read Huntsville, Alabama. I answered the call, even though I could not think of anyone that I knew in Huntsville. When I picked up, a man’s voice said, “Susan?” and I replied, “Yes?” with a questioning voice.

“This is Bill Fussel, ” he said. I have never met nor have I ever spoken to Bill Fussel, but I knew exactly who he was. He was part of my Dad’s WWII bomber crew! My father spoke of him often, and he was another one of my Dad’s best friends. Many of my childhood vacations were excursions to visit the men who served in WWII with my Dad, and I can tell you that some of these excursions proved to be very interesting experiences! We never visited Bill and his family, but I always knew of him.

Bill was looking for my mother. He had discovered that her phone was disconnected, and so he called me. Evidently my mother had given him my cell phone. I had to explain the sad news that my mother had passed in early 2013. He then shared something with me that I had not known: Bill and his wife, Alma, stood as witnesses to my parents marriage in 1947 at the Detroit City Hall. Bill recounted this memory as though it were yesterday. Bill formerly worked for Chrysler, who transferred him down to Huntsville, Alabama. He liked Huntsville so much that he and his wife stayed there.

When my mother passed, I felt like I lost all connection to my father who had passed in 1986. Now I was talking to a person who remembered them both, and was looking for my mother. I felt like it was a ‘Thanksgiving Gift.’ Suddenly my parents seemed alive again, and with us in time.

I asked Bill how old he was and he replied, “Ninety-two.” My Dad would have been ninety-five this year. He told me that there is only one other living member of Dad’s WWII bomber crew — a man named Henry who lives in Texas. I wished him a Happy Thanksgiving with his family, and we agreed to keep in touch.


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