Sunday, September 17, 2006

Want to See My War Wound?

I originally wrote this for the Blue Doodle, when I first started writing over there. I want to share it here because I have new readers who don’t read the doodle (you really should, and I am strapped for time because of this move. I am still in the hotel and our stuff should arrive at the apartment tomorrow — hopefully in one piece. My kids are driving me nuts, thankfully #1 starts school tomorrow. I am starting to miss home a little, and if you have the number… call me. I am not changing the old cell number just yet.

ANYway… here it is, I will try to get something new out next week… if we have our internet that is

When I think of veterans, my ex-step dad comes to mind. Ex, yes, now removed. My poor mother will never be happy – she takes OCD to a whole other level. I have decided, and actually told her at one time, she is destine to be alone and miserable… yeah I think that wasn’t my finest moment.

ANYway, my ex-step dad was this incredibly awesome person. He always did things for me and my sister, like help coach our softball teams, take us fishing, and was very active in our school, etc. He did, however, have a way of freaking all my friends out by showing off his war wound.

He was honorably discharged from service after being shot in the Vietnam War. The bullet had pierced his abdomen and exited out his back, leaving him with this hole that looked like someone just dug out flesh with a spoon. Unlike most draft dodgers during that time, he willingly went off to war; he wasn’t even of age – had his folks sign the necessary paperwork to ship him off, because he couldn’t wait to protect and serve.

I can only imagine what it’s like from his stories and the many movies I have scene. War changes you. I don’t think he was diagnosed, but I am sure he had post traumatic stress. You couldn’t touch him while he was sleeping, or try to tap him to wake him up, or you would likely lose your head… he would wake up swinging, ready for the fight… very sad, but humorous to a young teenager. I think I perfected the art of tap and run… just to catch a glimpse of the man in the act of self defense. Yeah, I am probably going to go to hell for that… one of the many things on my list of BAD things.

Even though he had been to Vietnam, he was still more laid back than my mom. He caught me ditching school at the lake one nice April afternoon. He was conveniently fishing close to where we were semi-naked cliff diving. Yeah we weren’t too smart… all stoned out of our gourds and drinking wine (we were young and would drink prune juice if we thought we’d get a buzz). I saw his truck on the horizon and made a mad dash to my friend’s car… dove into the front seat and laid there, eyes closed… like it made me invisible. I heard him stop… questioning all of my friends. Eyes closed I lay there in the seat, practically holding my breath. I hear footsteps and then the tapping of glass… I gather my composure and glance up. There he stood, with a very irritated look on his face and he gave me the finger. Not the one you’re thinking… the “come here, I’m not EVEN going to say anything” finger. GULP. I get out of the car and follow him over to the truck and he said few words — told me he was disappointed in me, but he didn’t make me leave. I’ll be damned if I went back to school… no way. I think we spent the rest of the day BAH-HAWING in my friend Aaron’s Datsun. The awesome thing… he never told my mom.

I did get in trouble though. My mother found a check I wrote to Pizza Hut for eighty bucks that day. Yeah, I know, not too smart. She ratted me out to the principal of my school and I got in-house suspension. Thanks MOM!

Even though my mother and he divorced right after I graduated high school, I still see him. He takes Gabe golfing, and even lets him drive the cart; he brings gifts at Christmas and birthdays for the kids; he calls from time to time to see how everyone is; and I even talked him into coaching our Coed softball team a couple of years. War may make men tough, but I think it gave him an appreciation for things that we tend to take for granted. I love my mother dearly, but she never took an interest in what we did as kids, he seemed to genuinely appreciate the time he spent with us, making the most of it. My mother may have removed him from our family, but my sister and I… we kept him.

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