Unfortunately, much like Mother’s Day, my Memorial Day post comes a day too late. Hanging out at the house with three two year olds doesn’t allow for a lot of computer time. And since there was a television show after the kids went down that BOTH Bray and I wanted to watch (that happens about once a year, and FYI, it was Hatfields & McCoys, and I’m loving it), time was not on my side.
But it is a post I want to write, so please excuse its lateness. I don’t talk a lot about my dad. Much of that stems from the fact that he lives in Oklahoma, so we don’t see him as much as we’d like. We see my mom every week, and Bray’s parents we see every month, but my dad and his wife we only get to see about three times a year. He’s a funny guy, and a little crazy, and the kids have lately taken to calling him Papa Rick because they heard my stepmom call him Richard on their last visit. (Well, it’s mainly the eldest that does it, the other two stick to Papa, but it’s particularly funny because he’s never gone by RICK in his whole life!)
He is also a veteran. He served in 1967 and 1968 in Vietnam. In high school, I was obsessed with Vietnam. After my parents’ divorce, I became particularly focused on studying it as I tried to understand what might have created the inner turmoil that he was battling. That, in and of itself, is crazy because a 15 year old girl can’t possibly understand Vietnam or what it did to the boys that went. He wasn’t drafted. He signed up to go after his freshman year in college. But he came back different, as he explains, on the rare occasions he mentions it. While he still lived a full life, he pastored churches and began a Christian radio station and led a lot of people to Christ, he battled inner demons. It led to a series of life ups and downs many of which my brother and I experienced the aftermath.
As I spent the long Memorial Day weekend with my kids, I remembered his sacrifice. The pieces taken from him so I could take the kids to the zoo and swim in my back yard and read the news and put them down to sleep feeling secure. It’s pretty easy to forget these days. We don’t hear much about soldiers fighting on the news. I don’t know many people currently serving in the military. So I don’t think much about it in my day-to-day life.
But it’s really not that far removed from us even if our families aren’t fighting and serving today. My grandfather served. My dad served. Bray’s father’s cousin lost his life as a pilot during Vietnam. I’m glad we have Veterans Day. I’m glad we have Memorial Day. There need to be days that we remember the millions of sacrifices made, not just by those who lost their lives, but by those who came back with altered lives. I always call my dad on these special days to thank him for his service, but we should all be better about remembering on the days that we don’t have a long weekend. I’m excited to take our annual pilgrimage to Oklahoma this weekend, not only just so I can see him, but so I can teach my kids to thank him too.
|Dad and Donna with the boys
|Me with Dad and Donna
|Little bit with her Papa