Bitter Pill

I recently lost my dad. He was a Vietnam War veteran, 17 years in the Army. I have always sung his praises and have said how grateful I am that he brought my pregnant mother back to the States, where they married, and where I was born.

He was the middle son of 5 kids. My grandfather was a treefaller in the lumber industry. Hardworking stock, conservative, even worked on the school board later in life. He raised me for three years of my life, 5th-7th grades. That’s where I think I got my core values from. Not my father. It’s like mourning my grandfather all over again.

I heard my grandfather did not want my dad to enlist in the Army to go fight in Vietnam. But my dad defied him. He was like his fellow Boomer hippie peers, but on the other side. Just as “Me Generation” as the hippie/Beatles fans. There was no money to fund a college education on a lumberjack income. It was either be a war hero or go work in the lumber industry or a gas station.

So my dad went, did 2 tours. Met my mother in the meantime. She was a “hooch maid” for the barracks where the soldiers lived. Were these women prostitutes? I don’t know. Maybe some of them were, but from what I know of my mom, it was honest work, and I’m sure romances developed. What would you expect to happen with sex-starved young men with female maids around? To call them prostitutes is too cynical for me.

I have the love letters that my dad wrote to my mom, while she was in the States with me. He was such a romantic and an idealist. But my mother was stranger in a strange land. Did not know English. Living with my white relatives, while my dad was finishing his final tour in the early 70s. But as I got older, when my earliest memories formed, I could tell something was wrong. My dad was still away.

(This post is a work in progress. To be edited and added to).

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