Freedom is Not Free

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by theoldchick, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer Premium Member

    May 11, 2010
    My father was a mechanic. He always had black grease under his fingernails. Always had his head under the hood of some-body's car. He had an Amoco station and ran the business like a military unit. Every tool had a place. Every tool was cleaned after use. My job as his assistant was to clean and put away the tools. My brothers swept the floor. My sister never came near the place. She was too girly to be a mechanic's assistant.

    When I was ten my father faltered. He lost interest in us kids, lost interest in his work, lost interest in his life. He spent months at Bay Pines being treated for something that was a big secret. My mother would not tell us what was wrong with my Dad. He came home a shell of his former self. He spent time reading the paper and poring over military books. He mentioned the Battle of the Bulge a few times. Talked about starving prisoners, Hitler killing Jews, making tough decisions.

    The Amoco station was sold and my Dad became a stay-at-home-dad. He managed for a while. Then he started having severe bouts of rage and went back to Bay Pines Veteran Hospital again. As I grew into my teens my Dad spent months at a time being treated for something at Bay Pines. He was always sick, became bitter, easily enraged. When he reached for his belt buckle we scattered. Life with him was tough and I grew distant from him as I matured. He was a difficult man to be around and I wondered how my mother tolerated him.

    "He's had a tough life," she would say to me. "He wasn't like this when he was young. He fought in the war and is still fighting."

    I didn't know what she meant but trusted her because she was my mother. She was also an RN and knew how to handle sick people. She'd recognize the signs of an impending mental break and carted him back to Bay Pines on a regular basis.

    I married but stayed close to Mom. Dad was elderly but not frail. His mind and mouth was as sharp as ever. He'd say what he had to say and if you didn't like what you heard you could kiss his skinny little bleep and get over it. As the years passed his body began to fail. Years of smoking and drinking began to take its toll. Tough as nails, he constantly surprised the doctors by making a comeback.

    Finally the time came. He had given up and I called in the family. Before they arrived I sat alone with him in the hospital room. I didn't have the heart to tell him Mom was too frail to come to the hospital. He was confused by the morphine but seemed to focus once he started to talk to me.

    This is what he said:

    "I'm a murderer."

    "What?" I blinked rapidly.

    "I murdered a child." His blue eyes were suddenly clear and bright as he stared at me.

    "When?" was all I could say.

    "In the war. France. A small boy came toward us. He was crying. I scanned the area for snipers and started toward him. Then I saw he had a grenade in his hand. Pin was gone. I raised my rifle. The boy stopped. He knew. Oh God, he knew he was going to die. He knew I was going to kill him. I squeezed the trigger. Oh God, he looked at me. He screamed. Then he fell." My father's voice cracked and his eyes filled with tears. "I ran and the grenade exploded. The was nothing left of that little boy. I murdered him. Do you think God will forgive me?"

    I had no idea what to say but words came out of my mouth. "Of course God will forgive you. He may not forgive the person who put the grenade in the little boy's hand. You saved the lives of your men."

    His eyes focused on mine. "You really think so?"

    "Of course. I feel the forgiveness in my heart." I put my hand over his.

    Five days later he was buried with full military honors. 21 gun salute and so forth. My Mom stared as if in a daze when the uniformed officer gave her the folded flag. He spent a moment longer and gave her Dad's Purple Heart medal.

    Freedom is never free.

  2. perolane

    perolane Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2010
    I have no words.....just [​IMG]
  3. I have WHAT in my yard?

    I have WHAT in my yard? Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2008
    Eggberg, PA
    Read the book The Way We Never Were.

    It talks about what it was really like for returning vets. My Father also fought in WWII. He contracted some sort of skin disorder that dogged him the rest of his life. He also became a drunk. It was not until after he died at 63 that we learned more about his service and that he had passed time in a german POW camp. He had never said a word......

    I have a cousin who still gets surgery every few years as pieces of shrapnel from Viet Nam surface from his skin.

    My sister had to have her jaw rebuilt after her too many tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. (She has told me very very little of what happened to her face.) She has signs of PTSD......
  4. AccentOnHakes

    AccentOnHakes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 2, 2009
  5. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    I have an immense amount of respect for our service men and women.

    Working in crisis counseling, I talked to a lot of them. I was uncomfortable with how our government branches deal with mental health issues in service men and women. They seem to not recognize it in a timely fashion, and treatment used to be rather sketchy.

    I'm told it's better now.
  6. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    [​IMG] I am so glad you made peace with your father, and I feel his pain. [​IMG]
  7. mamagardener

    mamagardener Chillin' With My Peeps

    Like the saying goes, You never really know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. My dad was in Korea, and I know it was hard for him. He would never talk about it, but he would have very moody times. God Bless everyone who has ever had to deal with going to war. I thank them all for mine and my children's freedom!
  8. Spookwriter

    Spookwriter Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 23, 2010
    For whatever reason there may be I've always considered
    the 4th of July as more of a day to honor our veterans that
    even Memorial day.

    On the 4th of July we honor a nation with parades, fireworks
    and other trivial things.

    I post on here almost daily, in some sort of humor, to bring a
    laugh or a smile.

    Today as we all read the Old Chicks post, there is no humor in
    it. But it brought a smile to my lips.

    For this man, and the thousands just like him, endured wars that
    this nation--this fine nation--would live. So this 4th of July, let us
    remember all of our veterans. Those both living, and dead. Those
    serving in the times of war, and those serving in the times of peace.

    Those that were drafted, and those that joined voluntarily.

    Let us call them by their name.


    My daughter was in two parades yesterday, riding her float.
    Waving at the crowd. Not a care in her little perfect world.
    Their float even won an award.

    Beauty queens, antique cars,...quite a nice parade.

    And in the parade yesterday evening, there was a fairly young
    man who walked alone. No brass band, no ticker tape. Wasn't
    passing out candy.

    Just a man.

    He wore his United States Marine shirt proudly. Short pants. He
    walked the entire parade, one step after the other, on a cane.

    "One step after the other", because I can't say one foot after the

    He didn't have two feet left.

    He gave his left left leg to this nation.

    He gave his leg to each one of us.

    How much, how very very much, our veterans have given to us.

    Old Chick.. Let us all remember the person you called your father.
    Let us all call him...

  9. maclady

    maclady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 28, 2011
    Lost in Space
  10. chickened

    chickened Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 2, 2010
    western Oregon
    Sounds like your father found forgiveness with God before he died... he will be there when you and I get there. Great story.

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