Peter and I spent the morning of June 6 at the Commemoration of the Normandy Invasion at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. We’ve visited many times in the sixteen years since it opened. We go because we remember D-Day. Well, I do. Peter doesn’t remember much anymore, but I’d hoped the grandeur of the place would spark a memory.
A soft breeze wafted around us as we walked up the alleé and through the immense granite Overlord Arch. Above us, Allied flags flapped in the wind. As we gazed out at the awe-inspiring depiction of a Normandy beach, a soldier fighting to gain the cliff, another sprawled in the sea, Peter said, “We’ve never been here before, have we?”
* * *
After the ceremony we went to Roanoke for lunch. When I drove into Montano’s parking lot, his eyes lit up. “I know where I am now,” he said. We were seated quickly at one of Theresa’s tables. After so many Montano’s lunches, she knows us.
She patted Peter on the shoulder. “You remember, we don’t have Guinness on tap anymore,” she said, apologizing.
He shook his head, and finally settled on another choice. When she returned with his beer, she said, “Ready to order? Too many decisions, I know.”
He looked at me. “What do I want?”
“Fish and chips.”
“Yes, that’s what I want.”
When Theresa brought our food, he asked me about the contents of the three little cups on his plate.
“Tartar sauce. Horseradish sauce. Malt vinegar,” I said, pointing to each. “You use malt vinegar. It goes on the fish and chips.”
He dipped his spoon into the tartar sauce. “Oh, that’s good,” he said. Once upon a time, he wouldn’t even have tasted tartar sauce. “Too sweet,” he would’ve said. He dipped his spoon in again. “I could eat it all.”
He wrinkled his nose at the horseradish sauce, but then, he picked up the container of vinegar, put it to his lips…and…
“NO-O! Don’t drink the vinegar!” I yelped. Too late.
He shuddered. His eyes watered. “Bl-l-l-ech! Wasn’t supposed to drink it, was I?” He laughed and choked at the same time.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the look on his face. “You’re supposed to sprinkle it on the fish and chips.”
He did “sprinkle” the remaining vinegar, but then, to add to my shock, he plastered the fish with tartar sauce. By that point, I guess I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d licked the container clean.
Header: Monument at front of National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Virginia