Go with me here. I don't know where I will end up, but I have been thinking about my dad a lot lately.
We are coming up on 2 years since my dad has passed. His birthday, my grandfather's birthday, my mom's birthday, and my parent's anniversary were all the last week of March. It used to be this glorious week of birthday cakes and cards, now we just try to keep my mom distracted. It just has me thinking about who my dad really was. He led a strange life before my mom and I. When he joined the Army, he lied about his age. When they found out his real age they could not send him to Vietnam yet. My dad as a genius, and so he qualified for special forces. When he left for basic he had a high school sweetheart. When he came back from basic before he went on to special forces training they were married. We (my mother and I) assume this was because she was pregnant. We know I have a sister that was born while my father was overseas.
My grandfather gave me this photo album when I was in college. Inside it are pictures from their wedding and pictures of my sister when she was a baby. Her name is Dawn. It was very surreal to see these pictures, kind of like alternative universe.
While my father was in Vietnam, he did terrible things. Terrible things that made him a good solider. I think he struggled with that his whole life. Just the few things he shared with me (with a hint of soldier pride) were enough to keep you up at night. I am sure he only told me the tip of the ice burg. I know many times he told my mom that he did not think he could go to heaven because of what happened there. That always bothered me because he would not talk to me about it, even though I tried. I would have showed him that it is possible. I know he prayed, I just don't know what the prayers were.
Vietnam nearly killed my father. Literally. My father started a firefight that lasted almost a week. Yep- That is my dad. So sometime into this fight (early on) a grenade or large explosive went off very close to him. He was blown back. He said he remembers some snapshots. The sudden silence (his eardrums were blown out.) The searing light (his left eye was severely damaged. Being dragged, which we found out later was by Wayne, because a tank had begun to crush his head. The percussion sound of helicopter blades. He would later say in a local newspaper article that he knew he would be ok because "God doesn't take you to heaven in a chopper." He went to a hospital in Japan and underwent brain surgery. They drilled a hole in his skull to relieve the pressure. He was in a coma for a while. I don't know how long, and I don't know if it was medically induced. Not too long after he was sent to Hines hosp. outside of Chicago.
I know my grandfather visited him, I don't know if my aunt did. She is just as enigmatic to me sometimes. I know while he was there he pounded out an image of the liberty bell on copper and had it mounted on wood and sealed. It is about 5 inches by 8 inches big and very very good. It is the only inclination that my father had any artistic talent that I ever saw. When he was released he went to his wife and child and was told she wanted a divorce and for him to give up rights to their daughter. He was a baby killer and a horrible person. The military told Dad that he would not live past the age of 30. He fought but gave up. He gave up visitation rights but not the rights for someone to adopt her or anything. I wonder about that time, grandpa wouldn't talk about it and dad certainly didn't. I am just uncomfortable asking my aunt.
This sets the stage for what he calls the dark ages.