Monday, February 7, 2011

War Wounded... Heart Broken

September of 2006, I posted a little something about a person very near and dear to me. This was a time when my blog was mainly rambling thoughts and half-assed poetry attempts. I hope those of you who occasionally read my fiction, will forgive me for the ramble and repost.

Want to See My War Wound?

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. 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 active in our school. 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 of 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 seen. 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--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.  

We, my friends and I, weren’t too smart--all stoned out of our gourds and drinking wine. 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 I was invisible. I heard him stop--questioning all of my friends. I laid in the seat; eyes closed, holding my breath. I heard footsteps and then the tapping of glass.

When I finally glanced up, he stood there with a very irritated look on his face, giving me the finger. Not the one you’re thinking. It was the “come here, I’m not EVEN going to say anything” finger.


I got out of the car and followed him over to the truck where 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 off-roading in a friend’s beat up car.

The awesome thing... he never told my mom.

I did end up in trouble though. My mother found a check I wrote to Pizza Hut for eighty bucks that day. Yeah, I know, I already told you “we weren't too smart.” She ratted me out to the principal of my school, and I got in-house suspension.

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 Co-ed 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.

Today, the world lost a great man. Not only was Dawson Ogletree an awesome dad, but he was one of the most genuine people I have ever met. It sucks not to be able to tell him how much he meant to me... I guess I will settle with telling you. 


  1. If there were only more men like him.

  2. Tomara, that is a lovely dedication and I am sad for your loss. Take heart that those we have loved and lost are never far away. I like to listen carefully in the stillness of the morning to the gentle breeze that rustles the leaves, whispering messages that others may miss.
    Take care, Tanya

  3. Tomara, I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like an incredible man and a better father than some of us had even if he was an ex-step. My heart and prayers go out to you and yours.

  4. I'm sorry Tomara. Love you.


  5. I think he already knew how much he meant to you. Hugs to you and Gabe.

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  7. Awwww Tomara... so sorry to hear about your loss. It's the toughest thing in the world, losing a father... even if he is an ex-step. Big hug to you, my friend. (Your story was amazing and brought me to tears. He sounded wonderful.)

  8. I just happened onto your blog when I googled Dawson's name looking for the obituary. I went to high school with him and have fond memories of the Ogletree family during baseball seasons. He also came to the last few reunions and seemed to have such a good time. He was a really good guy.

    What a beautiful tribute you wrote to honor a fine man.

  9. Tomara,

    Who spawned us never matters. I'm really sorry, you lost your daddy. That's your dad. I thought the whole time you somehow got into my brain and stole my dad's story, but mine didn't have the physical wound. The freaky sleeping thing, yes. Vietnam.

    How lucky we were to have those men on our team, seems like my step-dad was never NOT on my side of anything. Your Mr. Ogletree was my Mr. Snow. I'm sorry to the CORE for how you're hurting and going to keep hurting without him. Think what it would have been like to never have him in your life, though, or his without wouldn't have all those extra wonderful and one of a kind facets he beautifully shaped. You KNOW he loved you to the core too. Reading about your loss rips a little bit more of my guts out too, I'm so sorry for you and I feel you. All my love.

  10. Thank you for this Tamara, I'm sorry you lost such an amazing person from your life, his memory is sealed upon you and now on us, thank you.