Friday, November 11, 2011

One of a Million

On Veteran's Day, much like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and other patriotic holidays, I'm reminded of how lucky I am. I'm an Army brat, a child of the Vietnam era. I was several months old before I met my father, because he was doing his tour in 1967 when I was born, and as I understand it, returned in early 1968 to the States. I know what it's like to be an officer's kid, living on base, and moving regularly. I don't however, know what it's like to have a parent in a war zone.
As I've gotten older, I've come to see my father for who/what he is, an unhappy & negative person. I accepted long ago that he is who he is, and he's not going to change. He's never been a "dad", who was involved with us, except for a few months after he and my mom separated. Some of that may be a generational thing. Some of it may be the fact that his own father was in the military and gone much of his childhood. I don't know, and ultimately it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. When I was very small, I'm told, I didn't like to play games with him because I knew he didn't play fair. His approval means nothing to me, and I long ago stopped trying to get it. I approve of me, and that's what's important. He's missed out on a lot over the years, and it's his loss, because I'm an awesome person, but he'll never get to know that since I refuse to draw him, along with his negativity and drama into my world. I told him long ago that I forgave him for the pain that his actions and attitudes have caused, and I have. I wish him peace and happiness in his remaining years, but in order for me to maintain MY peace and happiness, his will NEVER include me. I see him occasionally, and we've got a sort of peace at those times, as it's much more important to me that whichever nephew or niece is celebrating knows that I love them more than I want to avoid him, but I think he's finally given up and is respecting my request that he not contact me at all.
While I used to wish I had one of those dads who is at all of the games, recitals, or whatever the celebration might be, I know that I am much more blessed than many of my generation, because my father came home from Vietnam, and I had the opportunity to know him, and to form an opinion of him based on personal experience, rather than just stories and photographs.
On this day when we honor those who have served, and those who currently serve, I hope you'll take a moment, as you are thanking them, to thank; offer a prayer, good thoughts, or a hug to their family members, who are left behind for months at a time, never knowing when they'll speak or see their loved one again. Military children are often single parented much of their lives. They deserve an extra hug, any day of the week, because they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice, with no choice in the matter.

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