It was a moment in time that had me step up to the plate. I was only a teenager finishing my senior year and trying to get through the rest of the week with last minute details for my science project. My crazy mind was in overdrive for this challenge but I got it together and finished in time. It was a type of balloon invented by yours truly that had the capability to inflate or deflate, change speed and skirt through a very dense sky or heavy forest cluster. It was a drone but way different. It could climb a tree if needed or find a hollow to hide in. The entry theme for this project was, FIRST DRAFT. I had to do this project with high regards to my grandfather on my mom's side. His calling was always figuring out new ways to send out secret codes. WW2 elevated the need for this and he took it on full speed. Many times, and we found out years later, he would put himself on the line and try out a test fly with his air show gadget. Being in enemy territory he had no problem disappearing with his Army buddies as they knew he had 'Minnie Pearl' with them. This was Busta's 'eye candy' that each would wear on an eye patch created with purpose and attached in a way so that each would see at an incredibly long distance. They had the enemy scouted out from a long range away and on many missions they gained a positive outcome and saved many troops.
Busta was the name he wanted us to call him, as he was always quite the guy. As a kid he had me running for cover when we knew he was due to arrive for a visit. He would see me or the neighborhood gang in the distance, stop his jeep on a dime, and get out of the monster of a dust storm cloud that he created by driving in fast and furious. Yet he always stayed hidden from view. Then Busta would stomp around the back field as we attempted to hide under cover. The blast of his rifle always ended with a shout, "Game over. I win!" Then he'd laugh hysterically seeing us kids appear, hands up, like felons. We knew all along there was no ammo in the rifle. Even after losing a leg, Busta loved reenacting his time spent in the service so we gave him the chance to hunt his quarry, again and again.
I knew his calling would become my calling. And by following his lead, I was now competing for the chance to maybe see this new idea bring a spark to a new creative product. Coming full circle with my grandfather in a way was how I was able to come to terms with his passing last year. It was in the early morning and of the anniversary of his enlistment day. Coincidences happen rarely in life but this was a blessing and a wake up call for me. So here I am attempting to follow his lead a year later. I had to wait for the three ahead of me demonstrate and show off their entries. Sitting by the stage, I happened to look up to see the stage crew adjusting lights for someone's project to be showcased. One of them caught my eye as he came down and walked towards the backstage. The code he gave me said it all. It was hand signals that I knew from playing guessing games with my grampa, Busta, a long time ago. We used them often and it was never forgotten as they were ingrained in his time in and my time shared with him. It was another code method and one I never saw anyone else use it until now. My eyes bugged out as his message was, "You got this. Never doubt your knowledge and skills." He signed the one and only platoon code I knew as it was my grandfather's, too. I smiled and looked up knowing grampa Busta was looking out for me. How cool is that?
Time moved slow as I waited for my moment. It was a flashback that came back to me and one that at that moment was now reaching me with full awareness. I was only, maybe nine years old. Grampa Busta was showing off some of his baking skills learned by just being around the kitchen with his mother. She would hand him a bowl and instruct him to, "Put a good portion of flour in the bowl. Add some of this, that and stir to fluff. A bit of this and a handful of that will be enough. Stir in the liquids with the dry. Add to the baking dish. Put in the medium heated oven. Bake until done." He did the same with me and this one time there was a missing ingredient. I never panicked because you just went with whatever you were told. Nothing ever failed. It was this one time that I was helping with grampa Busta's famous sourdough biscuits. Singing a tune from long ago was his way of keeping focused in the kitchen. I hummed along as we worked together. He patted me on the head and gave me a flour hairdo but we both laughed. "Oh, hey, I need a heavy pinch of this. Can't forget the baking powder." He paused for a moment, then asked me to find the new container of this ingredient. "It might be on the bottom shelf in the pantry near the lunch pail." This icon was one he kept and brought back from overseas. He kept random things from his time spent during the war. We never looked in it because it was sealed shut, except today, as I looked for the baking powder, I noticed the top of the lunch pail was open. "I'll be there in a second. I'm still looking for it." I told grampa this so I had a moment to finally peak into the pail. Gently, I reached in and my hand lifted a military medal and one none of us in the family had every seen; a purple heart.
"Did you get lost?" grampa Busta joked and came into the doorway. I quietly got up, turned and held the medal towards him. He only said, "Purple will always stay with the red, white and blue of my life now and forever."