My Father’s Fight

Wood Richard L

Catholic

Oldest of 5 children, 3 boys 2 girls

Not in that order

Son of Arthur and Mary (neé Barnacle) of Wellesley

Drafted into a war that wasn’t

It was a conflict lost

My theater teacher said all the men who fought were monsters

But the only monster my father knew was the alcohol that made his father too friendly with a belt, his fists, anything to hurt everyone close to him

My father worked from below the poverty line as a child to middle class so his children didn’t have to see the ugly he did

He is the strongest man I know

If he fell they would have known how to bury him by the tag that he wore

The tag every man was issued

He saw active combat once in his two tours

His discharge came in 1973 signed by Nixon

We still have no idea all that he saw

Nor all of what he did

Radiomen like him had low survival rates and I am lucky to have him alive

To call him my father

His travel ban lasted 10 years and cost job offers

His work was, and still may be, classified

He’s a brilliant man who couldn’t attend the Ivy League college who accepted him

War takes impoverished young men like him

My theater teacher was lucky to be born into the privilege my father wasn’t

My father raised two stubborn, sassy, loving daughters like himself

Wood R L

Cath

One of five, the first

Born to Irish Catholic parents living in the suburbs of Boston

The only monster he knows is the memory of his father

Who he is the only of the five to forgive a sea of alcohol yelling, hitting

Breaking apart a home

He has taught me forgiveness, how to love, how to stand up for myself, how to laugh

He is not the stereotype my teacher thinks

 

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