A Downfall to Military Life

Normally I try to look at the good things.  But, sometimes there are things you just can’t put into a positive perspective.  I haven’t written in a few days because I went home to St. Louis to spend some time with my parents, mainly my Father.

My Dad, who is 72 is a proud man.  He spent four years in the Navy back in the late 50’s. He went on to be a Detective in St. Louis for 21 years.  After that he has done many security and management jobs.  He is a hard man to get close to since he rarely talks about feelings, if ever.  He’d rather be tinkering in the garage than sitting around the table with us chatting.

A lot of people would criticize his parenting.  As a father of four, he was rarely around. He couldn’t tell you whose blanket belonged to who and what our favorite toy, color, or food was.  He always changed the channel to his show when he sat down in the evening without a thought to the kids program we were in the middle of.  He is from a generation where a man was better just because he was a man and he did as he pleased. 

So, why would I want to take time away from my family and visit “The Man” of few words? Because he loves us. He might not have told us often, but it showed through his actions.  He was never around because he was working.  He worked two jobs most of the time to give us a better life.  He never complained or talked about it.  My father has earned every penny that he worked for and his work ethics put most to shame.  I didn’t know the extent of my Father’s commitment to us until I was an adult.  My parents never spoke of what we didn’t have.  They both gave us love and what I thought was the perfect childhood. I don’t ever remember “wanting” a thing.

My Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease many years ago.  My very proud and sometimes cocky father has become a man few would recognize.  He has good and bad days, but the bad days are becoming more frequent.  Some days he resembles the man who I remember, others he is a fumbling old man who can’t talk clearly or even get around easily.  It’s a terrible disease that takes away a part of you.

He recently retired and is now home with too much time on his hands.  The good part is that he has time to spend with others and therefore a trip home to see him was needed.  He doesn’t know that the main reason I came home was to see him.  I didn’t want him to think that he is so bad off that his daughter had to fly in alone from Washington.  My parents are remodeling their bathroom and I used that as the reason to come and help. My Mom has trouble picking out clothes, so the idea of picking counters, floors, and accessories is just not realistic. (Love you Mom).  I did help with the remodeling, but the time I got with my Dad was special.  I’ve never had that time with him while I was younger because he was always working.  And when my husband and I visit with our kids, it’s just chaotic.  I wanted one on one time with my Dad.   I have been away for over ten years and I have never once come home by myself.  This trip was overdue.
I had a wonderful visit and only wish that I could do it more often.  I now have memories that will last me a lifetime.  I don’t know how long I will have my Dad with his disease slowly taking pieces of him away.  He may live a long life, but he won’t be “my Dad”. He will become a shell of the man he once was and this has been hard for everyone to accept.  I love my husband and our life together, but there are some downfalls to this life.  Your whole family gives something for the service members career.  Not only are ourselves and our children affected, but our extended family as well.  My parents, siblings, grandparents etc…and my husbands side too.  They give up having us around and a piece of themselves. It is a sacrifice for everyone.

I’m glad that I was able to see my parents, but my heart aches for all that I miss.

2 thoughts on “A Downfall to Military Life

  1. Wow, this definitely hit home. My dad does not have any health problems as of yet thankfully, but he is 70, and is the same kind of man and personality it seems like as yours. My husband and my 10 yr. anniversary is this year, and I too have not been home myself in that amount of time. And nor do I see it happening anytime soon, since my kids are 2 and 4. I hope that I will get a chance though, and have a meaningful visit as you did. It’s not something that I’ve realized, but it’s so true how even our extended families/ and closest friends too get less of us because of the military life we live. Thank you for the post. And best to your family!

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