I smile lovingly as my grandson clambers up onto my lap and snuggles in. His chubby little fingers trace over the faded green lines of the tattoos that cover my arms. He has done this since he was tiny and at five you could argue he is getting too big to nap in his granddaddies arms. The day will soon come when he won't want to and truth be told I'm savouring every minute I can with him.
He follows the snake down my forearm, writes the numbers that I've tried to hide. Runs back up across the flowers and scrolls littered with the names of my parents and children. Then he finds it, his favourite. He has loved Lions for as long as I can remember and with a touch like a feather he draws it and all its finery.
Looking up at me with the innocence of youth in his eyes he finally asks the question I have been dreading, "What was the war like Granddad?"
In the blink of an eye it all comes rushing back, the smell of blood and cordite in the air, the screams of the fallen, the constant never ending pounding of the artillery and the fear.
I remember the fear.
I remember shooting blindly into the night, hoping I missed but was close enough to scare them off. I remember hiding in a ditch, the water running red, bloated rats fighting over the human carrion.
I remember walking for days, weeks on end,our numbers dwindling by the hour. The dead left where they fell. I remember being so hungry we ate a dog.
I remember my first tattoo, no design, no name, just a number.
I remember all this and yet I look at my grandson, see the love in him and the future ahead of him, and I say.
"It was worth it."