Father never cried.
Father never cried
My father drank his rum and coke every night. As a child, I accepted his want to find peace in the rum. I would sit with him and I saw in his eyes. Deep sorrow and lost. He told me often, “Son, we are going to California. I will find my friend Jon. I want to hear his voice and his laughter. He was my good friend and we drank and fought together in the Korea dirt.
Each morning, he would rise-up and go forward. He never talk of the past. War had taught him anger. Made him a violence man who killed in civil life and in war. He carry a smile and never a negative word to no-one. He told me often. Rate a man by what he does. Not his skin color or race. He loved Martin Luther King Jr. We stood together in Detroit and we heard a lion whispered great words.
One November day in 1970. After the rum kicked in. We drove west to California and we made it to Chicago. At a rest stop. I looked into his sad eyes and he told me. “Son, Jon was killed and I was not. I killed a thousand China soldiers and I wanted to kill more. We are going to visit his grave my son. He was a good friend. Only man willing to stand with a Mexican/Ojibwa man. We chased the women and we drank the rum. We will have few friends my son.
At a grave in a Military grave site outside of San Francisco. My father poured two rum and coke. He sat and he talked to a uncared for and lonely grave. He pulled out the weeds and the dead grass with his bare hands. I sat with him and I helped him clean the grave. My father looked at me and he told me. Jon would appreciate the kindness. Damn war steal the best from us. My division lost more than half. Left blood soaked land with our boys blood. Thank you son for coming along, I had to say goodbye to Jon.
My father never talk of war to me no-more. We went home and he drank his rum and coke nightly. I heard him talking to the ghosts every Friday and Saturday. I would listen.
He would asked the ghosts. Why did I live and you did not? Father watched me leave for war. I saw the sorrow in his eyes. He never told me. Don’t follow my footsteps and I did follow.
Now I visit friend lost in the new wars. I drink a miller by a dear friend grave. I asked the gravestone. Why did I live and you did not? I told the gravestone. I miss you my friend. Your children are doing well and the world is less good without you. I leave the five remaining beers on the lonely grave. I walk to my truck and I remember my father. He got lucky. He met a kind woman and lived his final years doing well. The rum killed him in the end. Rot-gutted his stomach and he never complain about the way life treated him.
Now I learn. Good friends are gold. The time of our youth, the wealth of our, not to be wasted. Everyday is a gift and I pray. No-more war. Enough blood spend for the cost of hate.
Today soldiers are serving and fighting. The education of the gun and the blood. When will we learn? No-one wins in war. War make boys turn to men. Hope turn to blackness and kill the wealth of a nation.