There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark



Sunday, July 24, 2016

The wounds of war update

Back in October...the 27th to be exact....I wrote a post about my second (and third...same man twice) husband. 

He died this morning.  Gil, our son, called me last night and told me he was near the end.  I think I said all of the right words.  Gil was crying and told me that even though his father was horrible to him more times than not, he loved him and while relieved his misery was almost over he was going to miss him.  I called him back because I needed to tell him this:  I loved your dad; loved him deeply.  I love you more than I can tell you because of the love I had for your dad and because of the baby, little boy, teenager and now the man you are. We were the best thing that ever happened to each other because of you. 

Gil called this morning after Bob had passed.  He will be buried at Riverside Memorial cemetery in So Cal with all of the honors that come with having served this country. 

I am so proud of Gil.  Gil gave his father what he was denied as a child.... and up until just a decade ago....unconditional love. He cared for his parent without one minute of hesitation.

Here is the original post if anyone is interested

There was a special segment on one of the morning TV shows this last Sunday. It marked the anniversary or was a remembrance of the photo of a young girl named Kim running naked down a road in Vietnam.  She had been burned with Napalm. There was an interview with the now 50 something Kim. She is badly scared but happy.

Wars; the horrible things humans do.  Young men and women lost, those coming home walking wounded....some of them anyway.  

I met my second and third husband (same man, different marriages obviously) early 1968. I'll call him Bob.  I was a single mother of two living partly on the welfare system, cleaning houses for the rich, and going to cosmetology school.  Bob was just home from Viet Nam.  He had been in the motor pool and while he wasn't on the front lines I eventually learned he had been exposed to horrible experiences.  He was the second most handsome man I had ever seen; the first was Omar Sharif.  He was Hispanic and American Indian, had long, black hair that he tied back with a leather thong, was muscular and brooding.  I saw that as mysterious and a sign of strength I guess.  He was damaged. He was that way before he left for Viet Nam I am sure, but the war just compounded the issues already there.  He came back an alcoholic and a drug user. I knew he drank, but the drugs were another story. 

By the summer of 1968 we were married and in June of 1969 our son was born. Let's call him Alex. Here is how the first marriage went: Alcoholism, domestic violence, calls to the police, arguments about drinking and drugs and not being home, cheating constantly (him), domestic abuse over and over, more police calls, crying, lost jobs (his), frightened kids (all 3), and more of the same. We tried marriage counseling, several times. We divorced.  He saw our son regularly, but he always picked him up at either his mother's house or my parents home. 

I heard from his sister that he was in therapy.  So was I.  Again. Three years went by.  I was dating....lots of first dates, only a few second ones.  By chance we saw each other at a club.  The "romance" started all over again; we saw ourselves as "healed." 

Here is how the second marriage went:  OK for the first year.  Then, see the above first marriage, add child abuse to that list of misery, and at the end, things more horrible than god awful horrible.  The divorce was ugly.  He was only allowed to see our son with a court monitor.  He saw him once. 

Fast forward to 1998.  Steve and I are in Idaho, my son Alex is getting married.  Of course he wants his dad there.  Seems Bob had married again and divorced and had another son.  In the 4 seconds that I was sitting alone at the reception, he came, glass in hand, and sat next to me.  Hey, good to see you, how are you doing? he said. Get the fuck away from me.  Now.  I said; and he did. 

About 8 years ago, Alex called me in a panic.  He couldn't find his dad.  Their communication was sporadic at best.  He was a full blown alcoholic (I don't know how to describe someone that is beyond being just an alcoholic) and had been having health problems.  Alex had found out that his father had lost his job, his condo had been foreclosed on, and no one knew where he was.  Alex wanted to know what to do.  I told him to call the local jails, hospitals and start looking for his SUV at the bars in the town where he lived. 

Alex found him living in his SUV in back of a supermarket.  He was collecting cans to support his drinking, a little gas and food.  Alex offered to help his dad;  his dad declined.  The next time Alex saw his dad he had broken into that lost condo, the SUV had been repossessed, he was cooking Raman on a hibachi, there was no power, water, no nothing but a seriously ill man and his booze.  Alex became a one man interventionist.  Somehow, he managed to get his father to agree to go to the Loma Linda VA. 

The VA got him dry and into a program, treated his diabetes, heart problems, blood pressure and found him campus housing.  He was granted VA disability and when he was ready to leave campus living, he was placed in a sober housing complex.  That lasted less than a year. 

Since then Bob has moved 5 times, survived a near fatal single car accident, lost toes to diabetes, had 2 respiratory arrests, one cardiac arrest, been treated for kidney failure, had a 5 vessel bypass, been in the hospital more times than Alex can count, had his bypass incision infected so badly he was in the hospital for a month, started on dialysis, and has never stopped drinking.  In August this year he was found non responsive in a strip mall parking lot next to his car, bagged broken beer and wine bottles under his head according to the police report.  He was released from the hospital a few weeks ago.  Alex can't find him.  He has a DNR in place; Alex has power of attorney.  Alex is waiting for the call to come.

My son Alex is a remarkable man in spite of his parents.  So are my two other kids; just remarkable humans given what they lived through. The three of them have forgiven me for the choices I made.  Forgiving their fathers is another story. Yes, there is a story with husband #1. 

Back in the 60's and early 70's our family was called dysfunctional.  Therapists either had a field day with our dynamics or didn't know what to do.  Now, the terms used are more advanced, more descriptive...PTSD, co-dependent, enabler, substance abuse disease, and several listings in the DSM-IV....or is there a V or VI now?

Bob was doomed long before I met him....a broken home, alcoholic mother, fraternal uncles killing each other, another uncle drinking after shave to feed his addiction, a sister that committed suicide, a brother that walked away from a deeply homophobic family never to be seen again, and on and on. 
Compared to Bob's family, mine was almost normal.  My dad was an alcoholic and my mother had affairs....what's to complain about?

Did I love Bob?  I did.  Obviously it wasn't a healthy love, or even close to one day of happiness love.  It was, in the end, just fucking miserable for both of us and the children we brought into our hell.  I take responsibility for my choices.  I don't wish Bob dead or in more pain than he brought on himself or what Viet Nam piled on top of that....but, he made his choices just like I did.  No regrets though.....I have Alex.