The Rose Bowl was not the only reason that I have been thinking of my grandpa. A couple of months ago, we announced at church that I had applied for and won a grant for a sabbatical next summer. I’m still quite overwhelmed with gratitude when I think about what this grant means for our family.
The Lilly Endowment encourages pastors to submit requests that have a theme, and focus on family time and renewal more than producing something. I knew from the beginning that writing would be part of the focus for me-not so much to make sure I “produce” something, but because writing is something I deeply enjoy and rarely make the time to do. After rejecting several topics that seemed a little to close to a “work” topic, I centered on researching my grandpa’s life as the theme for the 16 week sabbatical. Years ago, I began a short-lived blog to explore his life. Now, the grant gives the funding to travel to Nebraska where he grew up, to Chicago to talk with my uncle about his memories, and best of all, a trip for our entire family to Europe to see some of the places he was in World War II.
My quiet and shy grandpa didn’t talk much about his time in the war, but the little he did share showed that it haunted him in many ways. His unit liberated a concentration camp in Nordhausen, Dora-Mittelbau; we will get a chance to visit the museum at the location. After the war was won, he spent a week in Nice, France. There’s a picture of him outside the Hotel Negresco:
A few years ago, my uncle got the chance to have his photo taken in the same spot, and I’d like to do the same!
We will also visit Italy and other parts of France and England. If you have any places you’d recommend we must see, put them in the comments!