Friday, January 20, 2012

returning to Vietnam

Here was my latest article for the Lethbridge Journal.

My Dad
It’s common to meet a young visionary just out of college who is racing around the world with just a backpack full of dreams.  They will save the world one youth hostel at a time.  However, if you meet a man in his early sixties; a grandfather to twelve, a retired car salesman and antique collector with a weathered backpack aiding the poor in Asia then you would be meeting my Dad.
My father was hardly a man when he crossed the border from Taber, Alberta into the U.S.A to serve in the Vietnam War.  His desire to escape the farm life and break into adulthood with adventure and purpose was what drew him.
The rest was history, as they say and it was never mentioned. Not even the closest of friends could get my Dad to speak of the time he had spent in Vietnam; it was a history that he had hidden away in his heart.
According to the Veterans Administration data www.va.gov./, 480,000 Vietnam Veterans suffer from various forms of post traumatic stress disorder. That’s a lot of Dads, Grandparents and men suffering day to day, year to year over the memories and experiences that happened between 1955 and 1975.
The New York Times wrote an article in 1989 claiming that only 70,000 of those afflicted with P.T.S.D have received some sort of professional therapy; leaving a lot of Veterans to find healing on their own terms.
My Father had chosen an alternative traditional treatment. He, like a few other Veterans has chosen to go back, to set foot on the soil they once tried to have victory on. To give back what was taken, to heal what was wounded but most of all to seek some sort of inner peace and acceptance that can only come from facing the past in person.
My Dad has just served a few months in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, volunteering, touring and in his words, ‘giving back what was once taken.’  I heard today as I write this that he has arrived safely in India and will be volunteering at one of Mother Teresa’s homes.  The Mother Teresa homes provide care for women, orphaned children, the dying, suffering with AIDS. It also is a school for street children, and a leper colony. These services are provided, without charge, to people regardless of their religion or social caste.  My Dad who takes his Grandkids for a spin around the block on his motorbike and loves Shakespeare is holding the hand of an untouchable and that makes me proud.
I’m seeing more and more of these full circle moments coming to pass in people’s lives and I believe so strongly that we will all be given opportunities to reconcile, either with one another or have reconciliation within ourselves. It is so vital in this unpredictable life that we have an open heart to the opportunities of closure and healing.   I am so proud of my father, this is one of the most heroic gestures and I will share this with my children and my grandchildren for years to come.
For more information on volunteering at one of Mother Teresa’s Homes go to. http://www.motherteresa.org/07_family/Volunteering/v_cal.html

1 comment:

  1. oh my! Thank your dad from many many of us for his service. Mother Teresa has been a shinning light in our lives..if you read A Simple Path you will understand.
    I will say a prayer for your dad tonight.

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