Remembering Uncle Bill by Sharon Johnson O’Donnell
I’ve written before about my Uncle Bill and how he served in Italy in WWII and came home from war totally changed and withdrawn, probably a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My prior post went into details about his problems and how old army medical documents that we’d recently be able to view blamed my uncle’s condition — unbelievably — on the close relationship he had with his mother. This was something that was done often back in the ’50s and ’60s when my family was still trying to figure out what happened to my uncle. When I last wrote about him in November of 2011, he was had been living with my parents — both in their late 80s — in their home after he’d suffered a broken shoulder a year and a half earlier. Before that, he’d lived just across the yard from my parents in the old family home because he wasn’t comfortable anywhere else. Since his return from the service in late 1945, his parents and then my parents had taken care of him, preparing meals, doing his laundry, taking him to doctor appointments, etc. Sadly, Uncle Billy passed away about a month after a wrote that post on this site; he had a severe brain hemorrhage but mercifully, it happened quickly.
When he died and was still lying in the hospital bed, I put my hand on his head and wondered about all the things that had been going through there all these years. He was finally at peace. It was a very poignant moment. I spoke at his funeral, and my father — who was one of Uncle Bill’s younger brothers — and Uncle Jack — an older brother — told funny stories of when they were kids. After Uncle Bill came back from war of course there were no more funny stories. A reporter for our local paper wrote an in-depth obituary about him as part of a continuous series of interesting stories of t people who recently passed away. This was in the Raleigh paper but it also ran in Charlotte — though I’ve just discovered that link no longer works. There were originally photos in the article also, but now this link has just text. But it’s still a nice story and tribute to my uncle. So this is for you Uncle Bill.
Below is photo of my Uncle Bill on the far left with my father Sam beside him, then his sister Mary Stewart, and brothers Jack & Ben.