I have come to visit my parents in their new home outside Savannah, GA. It has been a trip I have both looked forward to and dreaded. To explain my relationship to my parents I am forced to quote a madman’s own relationship with his parents. Adolf Hitler once said that he loved his mother but respected his father. No truer words were spoken to tell a feel about my parents.
My dad is a sailor with saltwater in his veins. A hard ass on me since I can remember. My mother is distant and not an affectionate person. I had hope retirement and 8 grandkids would mellow the man out but he still makes me feel like I am ten years old. Perhaps that is just the way things are. Perhaps I should continue to live in fear of the man.
When he raises his voice, or chews my ass, I still quake inside. I fear no man like I fear my father. I had been around murderers, rapist, and darker men in my time ministering to the outlaw clubs. I met more than a few whom I walked a wide berth around them. But I never feared them.
My parents new home was built in the 40’s and is much smaller than their previous home. With few beds to sleep in I elected to pitch my little one-man tent in their back yard and stay out there. I can say that I have spent more time outside in my little tent that in their home. I can tell that its grating on my dad.
I can only endure my dad in small doses. So, when I can handle it no longer, I retreat to my little slice of peace and quiet. But I cannot relax. Every time I hear the back door open I fear that its my father come to yell at me for something I did or neglected to do. I have five days and a wake up before we roll out of here to return to Missouri.
I am beginning to regret agreeing to stay for two full weeks here. I don’t know what the mental toll I am paying living this way is going to cost me. I hate living in fear. I just want my kids to get to know my parents but I fear for them and my dad’s short temper. He yells like a drill sergeant and the bearing of a man who will take out the belt if you do not do as you’re told when you are told.
This trip reminds me why I keep half the United States between us. I can only handle seeing them once, maybe twice a year; and again in small doses. Don’t get me wrong. I do love my parents. But how I grew up as a Navy brat and son of a petty officer. Our behavior reflected on his career in the military. We did not fall out of line. He saw to that.
My dad spent a good chunk of my childhood away during once war of the other going on all the time from the Cold War and its ending to Desert Storm. I think his longest cruse was nearly 18 months long before they returned to port. I had many fond memories of seeing the fleet coming in with is sailors dressed in Cracker Jacks lining the deck as my dad’s ship made port.
For as hard my childhood was I still miss the smell of fresh paint, jet fuel, and hydraulic fluid. Of grey metal ships, fighter jets, and helicopters. I miss the sounds of the F-14 Tomcats and F-18 Hornets landing and taking off at all hours practicing touch and go’s so their pilots can keep their carrier landing skills sharp while the air wing was in.
So different my life now. No more jet fuel, no more fighter aircraft. No more living in countries half a world away cut off from the rest of my family. Those years of moving from one school to the next, restarting my life completely every three years of less when my dad would transfer from one Naval Air Station to the next.
I have not taken to civilian life very well. Without the regimental living I feel lost. It is easier to follow orders sometimes than to get out of bed with now a days. I have made the most of it. I have done the best that I can with what I have.
I am broken. There is no way around it. I grew up to be a weapon of war and I broke on the anvil of life. And not just once I am afraid. Why do I live with so much fear in my heart?
It is night time now; well past four in the morning. I cannot sleep. I worry about what I am going to do tomorrow to stay out of my dad’s hair. I think I will take my kids to a national park for the day like Old Fort Jackson. I am back on my meds and the weed is gone. I have to rely on my coping skills to carry me through to the end.