Chuck Williams: Bracelet will forever serve as a reminder

December 24, 2012 

I got an amazing gift from my mother, an ID bracelet that belonged to my grandfather.

He was Charles W. Sutton, as the silver link bracelet proclaims. I am Charles Watson Williams.

My parents thought enough of my grandfather that the first born got his name. My younger brother, Chip, got my dad's name, Horace Guice Williams III.

The first time I ever saw the bracelet was Sunday.

My mom gave it to my grandfather she called him "Daddy boy." During World War II, he wore it while he was stationed in England. Those were times I can't even imagine. We are all concerned about a fiscal cliff, but our grandparents stared at the end of the world as they knew it -- and they did not even blink.

We think we have problems. Sometimes, we are so silly.

I was talking about the bracelet, right?

That bracelet will, from this day forward, be a reminder to me. A reminder that, no matter what the problem is, it really isn't much of a problem.

My grandfather was on a flight crew of a bomber. And he wore that bracelet that his daughter gave him.

Papa died in 1970 when I was just 10. I was fortunate to spend a lot of time around him when I was kid. Never once did I hear him talk of the war.

I never knew the airman. What I have learned about his service came from conversations with my grandmother in her declining years. She didn't talk much about it, either. You had to pull it out of her, and those could be painful conversations.

I have since learned he worked part-time at a bicycle shop in England during the war. Maybe that is where my love of bikes comes from.

The Papa I knew was a man who loved his early morning coffee and Birmingham News on Sunday morning. I always wanted to write for that paper, because that was Papa's paper.

I knew a man that was always in motion. He had routines, many of which I still remember. On Saturday mornings, we would go pick up the dry cleaning and get a haircut at the neighborhood barber shop.

Saturday lunches in Birmingham were always a treat. There was only one place to eat, Golden Rule barbecue in Irondale. My love for barbecue was cultivated at that smoky shrine.

Near the end of his life, Papa had cataracts, which didn't help him in his job as a travelling furniture salesman.

My grandmother became his driver.

I got to make an Atlanta trip with him once. I couldn't have been more than 9, but I got to go on the road with him.

I am inching closer to the age he was when he died of a massive stroke. And this Christmas, I am thinking of my Papa.

It's funny how one little bracelet can trigger an avalanche of memories.

Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, chwilliams@

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