This Memorial Day, I’d like to honor my Dad. I didn’t know him well – his time in Korea at the DMZ changed him forever, and it was difficult for him to maintain a normal civilian life. It’s likely he became involved in drugs in the Army, and when I was quite young, became an alcoholic and one night, left my Mom with two small children, and attempted suicide. Later in his life he did his best with marriage and family life again, but never succeeded for long.
Eventually, he disappeared, about the time I was 14. We think he was living in the Southwest somewhere, California or Las Vegas, involved in shady deals just to survive. He was a great salesman, very charismatic… but by the time I was a teen, somewhat delusional. At the time, I really didn’t understand it fully, though I dreamed of his return like any young girl.
We never did find out what happened to him. Like others in the family, I went through a period where I wanted to know, intensely. But his parents and sisters before me, and my Mom and Grandfather had already tried, using private investigators and every other means they could think of. It was known that he had various identities, and that made it harder. We can only assume he is no longer living, a victim of alcohol or life on the street.
I understand him better now – in many ways I wish I could sit down and talk with my father of the past, and assure him that I never judged him, that I understand. I hope wherever he is, he knows I love him. I post this today for all those whose lives and families have become irrevocably altered by their time in the services, in ways that no-one ever talks about.
Through the travail of the ages
Midst the pomp and toil of war
Have I fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon this star.
I have sinned and I have suffered
Played the hero and the knave
Fought for belly, shame or country
And for each have found a grave.
So as through a glass and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names — but always me.
So forever in the future
Shall I battle as of yore,
Dying to be born a fighter
But to die again once more.
– General George Patton, spoken by the Eternal Soldier