Memories of a Veteran . . .

My dad was just a kid when he was drafted into the U.S. Army.  He was the age my oldest son is now.  He served in Viet Nam from October of 1966 until October of 1967.  He left behind a new wife and a baby-to-be.  That baby was me.  I was born in January of 1967 and he didn't find out that he had a baby daughter until almost a week later.  He once told me he refused to give to the Red Cross because it took them so long to get the telegram to him. 

My dad on his boat.

 He received a Purple Heart for wounds he received while in combat.  He didn't speak much about being in a war.  I remember being a freshman in high school when we learned about Viet Nam.  My teacher asked if any of us knew of someone that had served there.  I told him about my dad and he asked if I could have him come in to speak to the class about it.  I went home that day and asked him.  His reply was "Why?  So I can be asked how many people I killed?"  That was the first time I had ever really thought about what my father went thru.  I know that when he was asleep we weren't allowed to jump on him or wake him up abruptly (like little kids are known to do).  Instead my mother would gently throw something at him from a safe distance across the room to wake him .  Usually a wet wash cloth.  LOL!!  It's funny how things like that are our most vivid memories of childhood.  As an adult I realized it was due to post traumatic stress syndrome or PTSD.

When my dad found out he had diabetes when he was in his early 50's, he was told he could apply for veteran's disability due to exposure to Agent Orange.  For a few years, he refused to apply saying there were veterans that needed the benefits more than him.  That was just the kind of person he was ~ simple, honest and hard-working.

My dad passed away in 2005 after a sudden illness.  The anniversary of his death is coming up on November 16th.  He was only 59 years old.  He had just retired, bought a fishing boat and had a grandson named for him.  And, just like that, he was gone.  We had our ups and downs over the years, as most kids do with their parents.  I felt like I was just starting to scratch the surface of who he was when he passed.  We had deeper conversations and I started to catch glimpses of who he was on a human level, not just as a father/disciplinarian.  He was a softer, gentler version of his younger self.  His grandchildren reaped the rewards of this.  When Megan was born, I cried because she is the only grandchild that he didn't get to hold.  I cry as I type this.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about him.  Ever.  I know he's still here and that makes me smile thru the tears.  He's been leaving us dimes since right after his passing.  It always seems to be when we need to see them the most.  Hopefully, I'll be finding one today. 

God bless America and God bless our Veterans!!

Many blessings for a peaceful day and thank a vet if you get the chance ~ Wendy

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