Secrets of My Father

September 15, 1950

My father was a World War II veteran – he was stationed in the Philipines when I was born.  He enlisted in his 30’s without telling my Mother. My Dad didn’t have to serve – he was exempt.  It was an honor to serve your country, a patriotic duty. I was conceived, I suspect, in delight on a furlough.  I say delight since it would not be appropriate for parents to experience lust . . .

My father came home from the war changed.  Mom couldn’t understand why he was anti-social, withdrawn, uncommunicative, carrying resentments he seemed incapable of letting go.  The man she had been married to for over 10 years was missing.

When Mom died Dad grieved deeply.  And a man I had never met emerged:  Bursting easily into tears;  making friends with supermarket clerks who knew him by name; talking to babies in strollers;  smiling and giving hugs.  It was as if Mom’s death had liberated him.

And he talked non-stop about his more humorous war experiences while I drove him to doctors appointments.  His anger at General McArthur, decades later, still smoldering.  His amusement stealing sirloin steaks from McArthur’s mess-camp still delighting.

After hearing the same war stories over and over I began to tune them out until one day driving to yet another doctor’s appointment he shared what still haunts me.

“I never told your Mother this.  I didn’t want her to know,” he said, struggling to choke back sobs. “I killed a man – he came at me with a bayonet . . .   I  see his eyes . . .  maybe he had a family . . .”

A month later Dad was hospitalized. I sat with him as he lay there in terrified panic convinced the male nurses were there to kill him with guns and weapons only he saw.  He was put in restraints because he became combative, fighting for his life.

6 thoughts on “Secrets of My Father

  1. My dad was stationed in the Philippines as well … my mom said he was not the same either when he returned … shortly before he slipped into his last day’s coma … he made gestures and comments indicating he was back there in time! We didn’t understand any of it because he never shared stories ~~ not even humorous ones … such sadness for them!! I wonder what would have been different in our own lives if PDSD was not an issue? Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Becca,
      Generations of men (and now women) have silently suffered from PTSD and war. Your question about what would have been different is really a provocative one as we all carry the pain, in some way. God forgive us our sins for we know not what we do.

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  2. Years and years later the power that had over him. It’s as if I could see him there…….Father’s are a powerful force in our lives. I’m glad you’re blogging again sweetie and I think about you often and hope you’re feeling better!

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