Thursday, August 23, 2012

Battle Scars

Still missing my sweetheart.  I will continue to miss him daily for the next 3 months.  Nonetheless, I went to visit a co-worker for lunch.  This co-worker happened to have been raised by a Marine, Special Forces. 

On our way to lunch, I shared with him a story of my childhood, of when I was little my dad moved us from a Hispanic neighborhood riddled with Cholos (aka gangsters) to a middle class, white neighborhood.  Being the only 'Mexicans' on the block we were succumbed to ridicule and discrimination.  I and my siblings would hear racial slurs and comments such as being called ‘ tacos’ and ‘beaners’.  My co-worker related and said he was called “Kung Pao Chicken”, by one of our customers.  As if that wasn't bad enough, the kids in the neighborhood had these full lives with their families that we didn’t.  By saying, full lives, I mean to say that they would have conversations with their parents and real vacations.  Their dads would come home from work and ask them about their happenings and their feelings.  Their dad would hug them, and be genuinely interested in what happened during their day.  Their dads would remember their birthdays, holidays and school events. They would take vacations to Hawaii; the Colorado River... their grandma's would pass and leave them inheritance. 

My life was quite different.  My dad came home and barked orders “pick up your socks!" “Turn off the TV", " Eat your vegetables".  My dad didn’t express that he care about our feelings.  He would say things like “Don’t baby yourself" “You want to cry? Go to your room".  My dad worked a lot and was not present for many of my memorable experiences, such as school plays, parent teacher night, graduations.... yes, even my college graduation. He was always working. Our vacations consisted on visiting our relatives in Mexico ( wooptydoo!).

My co-worker then shared with me that he could relate.  His dad was stern and showed no emotion.  His dad's dad passed and he did not shed a tear.  I recalled that when my dad dies, I didn’t share a tear either.  I went back to work afterward. I didn’t grieve my dad's death until over 10 years later when I was in a HOW WE LOVE seminar.
My co-worker went on to say that his dad said "Son, there are three times a man cries; when he is born, when his first son is born, and when he is about to die".  He shared that growing up in America was a challenge.  His parents didn’t speak much English and he had difficulty in school at an early age.  He said when then teachers counseled him with his parents, they just smiled in agreement without understanding a word that was said.  When he was 18 years old, his father told him that he would pay for the first tuition of his school, thereafter he was on his own.  At that age, he moved out and found a job.  I was impressed by his story, relating to it in some ways.  Especially the part where he said " My dad always wanted us to do better than him".  My dad said that to me often. My dad wasn’t a marine, he was just a hard ---s.

Finally, he shared, that he would see his dad with his shirt off and see scars and wounds of battle.  His dad would never talk about what he did in Special Forces.  He never shared the stories of the things he's seen.  “ My dad is the toughest man alive”, he said.  I then asked a retorical question “ Does that make you tough? to not share emotion and to hold it all in?.”   He shrugged his shoulders and said “ I dunno, Im a crybaby.  Im not like my dad at all”.
He then asked how was my marine.  I had shared a photo of my marine with him on a previous occasion.   I got to share with him that my marine was away, for a while.  Amazingly, he understood. 

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