When I Was Twelve

Writing 101, Day 11

My task is to describe where I was at age twelve. The result of this exercise has little to do with being twelve, while much to do how and why I ended up on the Oregon Coast at that age. In addition, I’ve come to better understand why my father was the person he came to be….

When I Was Twelve

It was 1948 when I turned twelve. That was the same year my mother and I left Los Angeles and joined my father on the Oregon Coast – Coos Bay. He was a stranger. I had seen very little of him up to that time.

Today, during these extended wars in the Middle East, many of our returning GIs have difficulty fitting back into society. It is often blamed on Post Traumatic Stress Disorders. Is it that simple, or is it because war is a hard act to follow? Or is it because they have been required to functioned at one hundred percent of their capacity for too long?

I was eight when World War II ended, too young to understand the significance of many things.

My father, driving alone, hauled B-26 bombers from a Tulsa, Oklahoma factory to Long Beach, California throughout the war years. Each time the draft board called him in they declared he served our country best by continuing with that vital job. Traveling as many miles as he could and sleeping only when necessary was no doubt difficult. But there was a war on and there is always a price to pay when the candle is burned at both ends.

Today, the price a combat veteran pays, often leaves them with what is often defined as Post War Traumatic Stress. Post World War II veterans displaying the same symptoms were “Shell Shocked”. Since my father was never a combat veteran, he couldn’t possible suffer the same damage, yet he suffered with something that was never fully explained or defined.

Living in the Midwest, he experienced The Dust Bowl, The Great Depression and then World War II in rapid succession. Then, after years of performing at his best, he found himself not only unemployed, but unable to cope. Was he damaged in some way? It’s my uneducated guess that he was

I never fully considered the circumstances he faced until I wrote this post. In retrospect, I believe he suffered some form of Post War Traumatic Stress. But no one knew, not even him. It was simply a silent burden he bore for the remaining 54 years of his lifetime.