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Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology ("MAC")
5. Merry's Parents Visit
We first took them to Ouistreham, the site of a large five-story Nazi artillery observation bunker — part of what was called, "the Atlantic Wall." It was now a museum with a reconstruction of the bunker as it had been in 1944. We climbed up from floor to floor, looking at the various displays, until we reach the observation room at the top, which looked out over the English Channel. It was all very fascinating. And to think that we were walking through the rooms and on the stairs used by the Nazis 50 years earlier!Then, we went out on the actual beaches of the D-Day invasion. Here I am on the remains of an old concrete barge half-buried in the sand.
We all loved the museums - even the boys. We spent hours in the Memorial Museum followed by the Omaha Beach Museum at St. Laurent-sur-Mer where the owner gave us a WWII bullet. We decided to explore for our own. It was after a storm and debris had been washed up on the sandy rocks. Imagine our excitement when the boys started finding our own sediment encrusted, WW II bullets among the rocks! The smaller one on the right is a rifle bullet and the larger, a machine gun bullet. We just couldn't believe we had found 50 year-old, live ammunition laying among the rocks, and coming from one of the famous battles of history.
Well, we saw many other things with Merry’s parents. One of the other gems was our favorite little town of Honfleur, just across the Seine River from Le Havre. It was still early in the year but we were treated to a beautiful day.
Merry's mom loved the palace of Louis XIV at Versailles. It was huge! We drove round the massive gardens behind the palace. It was like we were driving in the country, yet we were in the middle of Paris, one of the biggest cities in the world. We didn't go inside the palace itself — but we were very satisfied with what we did see.
Granna's favorite sight had to be the spectacular Eiffel Tower. It is much larger than people expect and very impressive as you can see in this photo of Braden sitting across the river from the Tower. Their last night in France found us on the Tower's elevator and rose higher and higher to the third floor. What a breath-taking view! Granna couldn't get over it; we have rarely seen her so thrilled. "Gosh! This is really exciting, isn't it!" she kept saying. And, it was very exciting. The evening was beautiful, perfect for the activity. We stayed until the guides threw us all out at midnight.
In the morning, we drove them to the Charles de Gaulle airport. While there, I showed an airline attendant one of the WW II machine gun bullets we had found on Omaha Beach. "Whoa! Ah, no, no, no! Ah, no! That's a live machine gun bullet!! That's a $10,000 fine if we let you take that one! Ah, no, no, no!" That was a problem we would have to work on. It was time for them to go. Granna choked up a little, kissed us both, and they were gone.
It was the last time Merry saw her father alive. When he returned to Lacey, he was diagnosed as having terminal pancreatic cancer. He died two months later.
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