Going thru my things now that I’ve moved into my new place, I found these beggar’s beads. Arranged with a central stone, similar to Catholic beads, these were sent to me by my father once he arrived in Vietnam. For much of the next year, until Dad came home, whenever I needed to ‘touch my Dad’, I fingered the beggar’s beads. I can’t really say it helped, but it was as close as I could come to being with my father until he returned home.
When he did come back, he was in sorry shape. He wasn’t front line combat, but rather support, behind the lines. Atabrine malarial preventative had turned his skin a yellowish shade of cheese… Working 14 hr. days with no exercise resulted in a pot belly and poor muscle tone. Mother and I took one look at him, and promised each other that we’d get him back into shape.
Never mind that my driver’s license was less than a year old, I rode shotgun on Dad’s first attempts to drive again- Mother just wasn’t up to the stress. His first tries were over-controlled and clumsy. But, within a few minutes, he had the ‘touch’ for driving back.
Dad had retired on his arrival back in the states in California. Good fresh food, and mowing the lawn got him back in shape; the yellowish color turned to a summer tan, and he began to be himself again. Then he and Mother took a six week vacation. His parents came up from Florida to stay with me (I was finishing my freshman year at the university), and they went down to my grandparents house to live and travel for a while.
Not long after he and Mother returned from Florida, he found his new profession- personnel officer at a local bank- and I went to live in the dorm at the university. We had our ‘new normal’.