Monday, November 12, 2012
I don't like Veteran's Day. It reminds me of something I never did.
My father, Bill was a veteran of the Army Airborne. He returned from World War II and married his bride, Joy, in the early 50's. People said we looked like twins...red-headed, stubborn, freckled and prominent noses. Look at the photo and you be the judge. I adored my daddy.
He was like many of his generation. He didn't want to make a big deal of his service to our country, he just desired to neatly file the past in the file cabinet and carry on.
However, Bill couldn't put the past away because it stuck to him like gum on a summer sidewalk. We'd never heard of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
Have you read the novel UNBROKEN? If you haven't, you must. I read the novel this summer and the author's time spent fighting in the islands of the Pacific during WWII bone-resonated with me. His experience surely mimicked some of my dad's experiences. Reading this book was a light-bulb moment for me.
My dad was a great man....jolly, smart, fun, music-lover and general joke-ster. But the aftermath of war was too much for him and he became an alcoholic. Who knows if that is the reason (not trying to make excuses for him), but surely it was a big contributing factor. The man was always jumping out of his skin at loud noises, throwing hissy fits if he was EVER served rice and detesting when we put too many teaspoons of sugar in our iced tea. Don't kids understand the value of sugar? I can still hear the shouts and cries he made while he slept.
He died of cirrhosis of the liver when he was 55 and I was 21-pregnant with my first Sprout.
I could've held things against him for his wrong choices, but I've let go of those. I learned my dad loved me and did the best he could.
On days like Veteran's Day I just wish....just ONE TIME...I would have hugged my Dad and thanked him for his service to our country. For this teen growing up in the anti-war Vietnam era...doing that never pierced my consciousness. Brilliant me, I had to be in my 50's to realize I should have expressed my appreciation. Would it have killed me to think of someone else??
So today, I will express my gratitude to Bill. Feel free to join me if you want to.
Dad...thank you for giving up four years of your life to support our great country. Thanks for serving in the jungles of the Pacific Islands to fight the Japanese in WWII. Thank you for helping to defeat the evil dictators who were trying to quash freedom. Thank you for trying the best you could to provide for our family. If you were here today, we could sing a rousing chorus of 'Does your chewing gum lose it's flavor on the bedpost overnight?' and bust out laughing. Sorry for being a self-possessed, know-it-all teen....aww....I know you've already forgiven me. Better late than never, right? See you soon. Love, Sis.
No-more-regret-love to all.