Location: Fort Worth, Texas, United States

Mother of 3, grandmother of 3. Compulsive writer. Single, not especially "looking."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

It Never Ceases to Amaze Me....

that I meet Military Brats every day, and I think, aha! That's why I took an instant liking to this person. Recently on our writers Yahoo group, I discovered one of our members was a Navy brat, but I chastized him and told him we were taught to call them Navy Juniors.

Memories come flooding back, some good, some not so good. Doing a blog tour with other writers has been therapy for me, as some memories surfaced that I had long ago buried. I was particularly reminded of the incident when we were posted to Seoul, Korea, where I was traumatized by the actions of one of my drunk "Uncles" -- one of my dad's friends, who came home in a rage from the Officers Club while I was baby sitting his smaller children -- not much younger than myself, I might add.

He came in the back door, drunk and staggering, and demanding to know where was the gun? I had no idea where the gun was, and at age 9, I didn't want any part of trying to find it. Somehow, while he was preoccupied by tearing up the kitchen, I found the gun hidden in the linen closet. I picked it up gingerly and hid it under the baby's crib mattress, knowing he wouldn't disturb the baby, no matter how loud and angry he became.

My father arrived, worried about the man's conduct, and afraid he might harm me, too. His wife followed next, crying and wringing her hands, and he turned the dining room table over on her. Then the moment the man saw my dad, he immediately started pummeling him. When Dad had a chance, he grabbed a heavy dining room chair and hit him over the head with it. Out cold.

All this time, I was cowering behind an overstuffed chair, screaming my head off. This wasn't supposed to happen, I remember thinking. This is a friend of Dad's and look how he's acting. And I was also afraid for myself, too, and tried not to scream or make any noise lest he find my hiding place, but my primitive instinct outweighed my common sense, and I continued to cry for help.

And help arrived in the form of Military Police. Dad gave a statement, Mom arrived and took me home and put me to bed, where I continued to shake for hours, unable to sleep. She held my hand until dawn, when I finally drifted off to sleep from sheer exhaustion.

I didn't put that incident in my book. I didn't want to relive that horrific event, and even now, I have made sure that the man's name is not mentioned, for fear of his family thinking I'm "ratting him out." But you know, drinking was a part of being in the armed forces. It was a "good old boy's club" but at the same time, officers were expected to drink like gentlemen. Unfortunately, the force of the alcohol took over after the third or fourth drink, and they ceased being Officers and Gentlemen. Just falling down drunks.

I understand that today's Army is vastly different in this respect. Help is available on post, and if any member of the armed forces is found to be drinking to excess and/or abusing his family, retribution is swift and long-lasting. Thank God for that.

Pat Conroy and I came from that former tradition. His father was a raging alcoholic, and this colored the author's writing. Perhaps that's one reason I like his books so much, not only because they read like poetry, but I can feel the same feelings he went through in his childhood, on a much larger scale.

There is some good that comes out of facing this.

I know now why I'm afraid of drunks. I have yet to consider anybody who is under the influence of alcohol as funny, and laugh at their antics. I keep a wide berth around anybody who even hints of having had one too many. And I certainly don't drink, myself.

I know many people have had more horrendous experiences than this one I described, and I can't imagine how they got through their lives with active alcoholics in the home. Just his one incident long ago in a far-away country marked my life for many years. Going to Al-Anon meetings certainly helped me feel those long ago fears and exorcise them. Certainly there are many who read this who would benefit from attending Adult Children of Alcoholics groups, too.

So now another skeleton in my closet has been rattled. Who knows what may pop up next?

Whatever it is, I know I can handle it.

I'm an Army Brat.

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Blogger Mary said...

I am retired military. This book for sure brought back a lot of memories. Great read, a must for all military folks and their familys.

Kenneth T. Bennett,
CPO Ret'd Navy

January 1, 2008 at 6:58 PM  

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