I know this guy, we'll call him F. He's a Vietnam vet and served a full tour of duty...two years, I think, maybe more...patroling the rivers of Vietnam's delta region. His CB handle is Mother Frog, so named from his days in Vietnam when he was responsible for the lives of many young men on the river. He is a natural born leader, and made the rank of Sargent within a year of being drafted.
But he carries within himself demons I can not even begin to imagine.
With Christmas just around the corner, my thoughts often turn to him and his family. You see, F and his family do not celebrate Christmas, or any holiday which recognizes Jesus. F believes in God, he just doesn't believe Mary was a Virgin or that Jesus was conceived by immaculate conception. He reads the Bible daily, but only the Old Testament. And while his beliefs go against everything I was raised to believe, I respect his ideals. Perhaps, when I finish this entry, you will understand why. He is not Jewish, in fact, I don't think there is a name or label for what he believes.
F was raised in a christian family and he believed in the holy trinity. He grew up, graduated from high school, the military drafted him and F went to Vietnam. Somehow, his best friend, B, ended up in the same company as F. And it was through their shared Vietnam experience that F's views on religion began to change. B came from a family who did not believe in Jesus. The two passed hours talking about their own views on faith, both keeping an open mind toward the other's.
Then one night, everything changed. While camped on an embankment with their platoon, F admitted to B that maybe there was something to his religious views. Maybe his own beliefs, the very ones he was raised on, were wrong. So he asked B to tell him more, and B did. F went to sleep, thinking about his friend's words. The next morning F and B woke up, and found the entire platoon dead, their throats slit. They were the only survivors.
But that's not all. A short time later, while riding in a Jeep with three other men, they hita land mine. The blast tossed the Jeep and all five men into the air. Three of the men died, two men survived. And the survivor's were F and B.
F returned home from his tour of duty, and married his high school sweetheart, who is also B's sister. For almost 30 years, neither F nor B spoke of Vietnam. Ever. Not to their family, to their friends, or each other. F went to work for B's father in the construction business. F and his wife raised four daughters who are sensitive, intelligent, fun loving people (I danced with three of them on the deck). F is my step-mother's brother, and my husband's good friend.
It was only recently that F opened up about Vietnam. I remember after the wedding of his youngest daughter in 2002, F got totally blitzed at the reception. We all knew it would happen. It seems to be a tradition with F, his three brothers, and my husband, that the father of the bride or groom has to get completely shit faced on shots of Crown Royal at the reception (the bartender said they went through 2 litres between five or six of them...maybe more, it just depends on who they can corral into having a shot with 'em). Men will be men. And F had already been through this three times before with his other daughters. So it came as no surprise to us when the time came to take F home, that his wife would need some help (he's a really BIG guy). Sam and I, as well as several other guests, got F and his wife safely home.
While Sam helped F downstairs to sleep it off, I sat out on the deck with everyone else. I waited and waited for Sam to come out, but he didn't. So a half an hour later, I ventured into the house to see what was taking so long. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I found F and Sam, siting and talking, with tears streaming down their faces. Feeling like an intruder, and somewhat embarrased, I turned back up the stairs. Sam emerged a short time later and we went home. The next day, I asked Sam what they were talking about. "Vietnam," he said. "That man is carrying some awful terrible demons inside him." Then he added, "I don't know how he has done it all these years."
I don't know either. But I do know one thing, F snores like a chain saw when he sleeps. I've heard him, on camping trips and at the cabin. If you don't fall asleep before he starts snoring, you have lost your chance for sleep; he is that LOUD. And how he escaped the blade of the assassins that killed his men back in Vietnam...I just can't fathom it.
~~"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more...." John Burroughs~~