The Story of A Vietnam Veteran
A Tribute to My Father
This is a story I hesitate to tell but feel inspired to do so. It is the story of my father. He was born in Pennsylvania in March of 1942. This put him at the right age to be drafted during the Vietnam War. So, in 1968 he had to put college on hold and went off to fight in a war Americans did not believe in. He fought and served our country at a time when people did not honor our soldiers. When he got home no one said thank you but rather they hated our soldiers.
(image is of my dad in Vietnam)
Dad and I at Lake Powell
Me and my Dad
After the War
After the war my Dad met and married my mother and they had me in 1970 They stayed married for 5 years before divorcing.
My dad was an alcoholic and drank ever since I knew him. He also went to college at USC and got his master's in Accounting. He worked for many years at a few different places in Southern California. He remarried in the late seventies to my stepmother. They stayed married for a number of years and eventually they divorced too after having two children together.
All those years I would visit him on weekends. I did not live with him, but I saw him often enough. It seemed he always had a drink in his hand, beer mostly.
Where there is love, there is life
My high school graduation
Homeless and death
He spent many years alone after his last divorce. He would visit me and my girls as they were born and grew. I actually felt we got closer as I was an adult. He never seemed quite happy, though I do think he tried to be. In the 1999 when I was 29 I got a call from his work, where he had been for 10 years. They had not seen my father in a week. I need to mention that before this absence of his he had gotten a DUI. He had called me saying he was sorry for disappointing me. He also expressed that he did not know what to do. I tried to reassure him that everything would be okay. I told him perhaps he could get into a rehab. Well, it was right after the court date for this DUI that he disappeared. When I heard he was missing I was terribly upset. Family and friends looked for him, put up missing posters in Orange County and tried to find him.
He turned up 6 weeks later. It turns out he was living in his car. I talked to him briefly on the phone when he went to a rehab at this time. I did not know it would be the last conversation we would ever have. After three days in the rehab he disappeared. We did not know where he went until 6 months later when he turned up in a homeless shelter. He had been homeless. The man at the shelter had him clean up and put him in a suit and shaved his beard he had grown while homeless. The man remarked to my Dad that he looked like a business man. My Dad said that is what I am.
They called family, his brother and his old boss. His old boss apparently got him a new job as an accountant. He worked there for 6 months where he had a heart attack one day and died.
This is a story I have always hesitated to tell, but I want to tell it now. I want to honor my father who served our country, did right by his family and struggled with an alcoholic problem that may have been part of what went wrong in the end. To this day I never knew why he went homeless. He did not need to. He had been a USC graduate, always worked, a buisiness man, a vietnam veteran, a father, a grandfather and a husband. I think underneathe it all he was more fragile then people knew.
(picture is of me and my dad dancing at my first wedding)
Love is always bestowed as a gift - freely, willingly and without expectation.
We don't love to be loved; we love to love.
Losing loved ones
Have your ever lost someone you loved through death?
The War comes Home
I wrote this poem about the loss of him and my stepfather
They died 2 years apart
I'll never see your face again
Or hear your laughter
As days go by
I remember you still
As you were
When you were still here
With swollen tears
And a heart that aches
I'll never again
Feel your embrace
Even though your spirit is here
It's just not the same
As hearing your voice
And seeing you near
No more tomorrows
Will hold you
Only yesterday remains
Yet the sun still sets and the stars burn bright
The morning becomes day
The day becomes night
But you are not here
And the sorrow and pain
That death can claim
Bring heavy hands
It's just not the same
And I wish that you were still here
With footsteps light
And laughter long
(picture is of my Dad and I at Lake Powell)
from this book Poetry for and from the Soul
San Juan Captistrano Mission
This is a picture of me next to my Dad, my step mom, step sister and brother at San Juan Capistrano Mission in California when I was a child.
© 2009 Patricia