Community Care Patient and World War II Veteran Reflects on His Extraordinary Life
|Community Care patient Edwin Pyser of Greenlawn, New York, achieved a milestone that only a privileged few ever reach: He turned 100 years young on August 23, 2023, and the celebrations were plentiful. Congratulatory messages poured in from near and far, including an Official Proclamation and Certificates of Recognition from the Township of Huntington, where he resides, to an autographed photo from President Joe Biden. One of Mr. Pyser’s most cherished gifts, however, was a blanket he received during his birthday party with family and friends. It highlights news and events from 1923, the year he was born, and harkens back to a world of 2-cent stamps, $500 automobiles, and $5,000 houses.
Born in the Bronx, New York, Mr. Pyser remembers the Depression as a child, and even more so, America’s entry into World War II. Just days after Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces at age 18 and became a mechanic on B-17 bombers based out of the Eccles Road Airfield in England.
“My parents hesitated to sign the paperwork (allowing him to enlist), but they finally did,” said Mr. Pyser. His family came to understand that it would be better for him to enlist and have some say in where he would serve than to wait and get drafted and have no say at all.
During his service in England, he met his future wife, Edith, whom he called Edie, at an off-base dance. Their courtship led to marriage in 1945.
|“In fact, we got back from our honeymoon in Bournemouth (an English seaside resort) on May 8th, V-E Day, the day the war ended in Europe,” said Mr. Pyser.
Marital bliss, however, was put on hold as he sailed back to the U.S. on the RMS Queen Elizabeth to fight the continuing war in Japan. “That’s when we heard the news, over the loudspeakers, that we dropped the atomic bomb (on Nagasaki and Hiroshima).”
Mr. Pyser was then granted a 30-day furlough and stayed with his family in East New York, Brooklyn, while his newlywed bride remained in England. Edie’s father had been killed in the war, and the street next to her home had been destroyed by bombs.
“When you’re in a war, you never know if you’re coming home tomorrow,” Mr. Pyser reflected.
Thankfully, in 1946, the couple were finally reunited and settled in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Two sons, Harvey and Larry, would follow, and he supported his family by working at Pyser & Brothers, his father’s diamond setting shop in New York City’s diamond district.
After his wife died a few years ago, Mr. Pyser agreed with his son, Larry, that he should move to Long Island to be closer to family. Larry later arranged caregiving services through Community Care Home Health Services in Smithtown, New York.
“Anna is my aide, and she helps me with my everyday living, and I appreciate her very much,” said Mr. Pyser.
Even at 100 years of age, Mr. Pyser has so much to look forward to. He’s about to be introduced to the newest addition to his growing family. Larry’s daughter, Danielle, recently welcomed a baby girl, Jordan, who he’ll be meeting for the first time in just a few days.
As for his secret to a long life? Mr. Pyser pauses and then declares with an impish grin: “It’s a secret, so I can’t tell you!”
|Community Care Home Health Care Assistant Anna Doria came to help Mr. Pyser in March 2023, and he says that she has made a big difference in his daily life.
“When I first saw how skinny he was, I knew he needed fattening up!” said Ms Doria with a laugh. He calls her by her first name, Anna. She affectionately refers to him as “Grandpa.”During their time together, Anna prepares “Grandpa’s” wholesome and nourishing meals, completes a variety of household tasks, and sees that he takes his medicine on time. Best of all, Mr. Pyser considers Anna a welcome companion who, he notes with a smile, regales him with stories of her dog Lily’s escapades.
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