My dad was a veteran and although he wasn't a lifer like some who made it their career to be in the armed service, my daddy took great pride in being in the Navy during Vietnam. [Tangent: Like he drove me through a national cemetary to teach me to drive. At the time, this didn't seem that weird. That was just dad.] While my dad was alive we always used to joke that he wasn't really in the war that he was off on a boat somewhere getting drunk and playing grabass while people were in tunnels getting shot at [Tangent: That was just the nature of our relationship.] We always kinda joked that he was in the safest most glam place compared to his other servicemen. I really couldn't have seen how wrong I was back then and really wished I would have taken him more seriously.
In December, my dad died from mesothelioma , which as you know, [Tangent: if you don't fast forward through your daytime TV commercials], is a cancer we now have learned is caused by asbestos. He got this exposure while he was presumably safe from danger on a boat. A very old boat that was loaded full of asbestos.Although, he didn't lose an arm or leg in the trenches, he fought his battle much after the war ended and now look at his service as truly something he gave his life for. [Tangent: this is a very abstract thought for me since I never knew my dad as a sailor.]
Maybe it's to make myself feel better, but part of me feels this is how daddy would have wanted to go. He fought bravely and didn't surrender until he had no choice and he did so for his county
Every national holiday- my dad and his local veterans group held a blood drive with the Red Cross. This was my dads thing. This Memorial Day is the first time dad wasn't around to help organize and hound donors over the phone [Tangent: My daddy was never shy about calling in a favor. ] so they held it in his memory. Unfortunately I don't weigh enough to give blood (I know...skinny girl problems. Right? Waaah!), but mom and I went there anyway to the democratic headquarters this morning to deliver some of dad's books and say hi to his friends. Seeing his friends all teary eyed made me teary eyed. [Tangent: to me crying is like yawning. It's contagious. To quote a piece of classic American cinema, Steel Magnolias: "No one cries alone in my presence."]]
|my dad addressing his second family.|
I feel like this is the first time the gravity of the holiday has hit me. I'm not sure what it all means but I can't promise armed with this renewed sense of patriotism that I won't cry next time I hear Neil Diamond's America. [Tangent: Also, do me a favor. I don't ask you all of you to do stuff for me very often. Blood is shed everyday for needless reasons. Shed some with a purpose. Give blood.]