Gold Star Dad

The thoughts of a father who has lost a son to war

The five bullshit signs of grief..

Posted by fozzynok on 01/08/2020

So I was thinking about some things this evening and thought about the supposed five stages of grief which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This shit never worked for me even though some internet shitheads have asserted many times that I was “angry” in every god damned discussion where they were looking like idiots. I have discovered that as stated many times by people who ARE actually grieving and not writing books about it… We are all on the same trail, but we are rarely to never on the same part of the trail as the next guy… There are some of these things that I never will have. Denial? Pfft.. there is no denying why I am grieving and always will be. NONE.. no denial that the worst happen or that I am grieving.. so that one’s stupid. Acceptance? I accepted the fact that people die in wars.. Infantrymen die more often that most other fields. I accepted this when I joined and volunteered, I discussed this with my son and he accepted the fact that he would be going to war… and that he could be killed.. he wasn’t a fucking moron. I’m not even sure what the Bargaining part is.. so if someone wants to clue my dumb ass in.. go ahead. Depression? I gots it! I gots lots of it, and it ebbs and flows and will till I die.. Now comes the part that I am 110% in right now.. I dodged it with my ridiculously realistic mindset… NOW.. 11 years later, I am angry. I am never far from anger.. its there, and its not going away anytime soon. I am angry at the world.. I am angry at the species, I am angry at my countrymen… and they are not showing any signs of changing their shitty behavior.. so my anger will stay with.. with the depression until I assume room temperature… and I’m kind of ACCEPTING of that.

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A dog shaped wound

Posted by fozzynok on 11/01/2019

rufus and me

Today I had to take the sweetest dog in the world down to the veterinarian and hold him close as speak to him he was put down.  I can only hope that as deaf and blind as he was, that he could tell who I was and that I loved him. He has been losing ground for some time and I knew that the time had come to stop allowing him to wander around in a dark scary world and let his wonderful soul and personality go to wherever good dogs go. He was my constant companion for the last dozen or so years. It’s pretty amazing considering that I never wanted him in the first place. 

I love animals way more than I love humans and it’s always been that way. Animals have never done anything to harm me, have always been there when I am down and never judge or disown you. I have had far too many humans do all of these things and more and they will continue to do so forever. Roophus the dog was mine whether or not I wanted him at first. I should explain that I guess. Years ago, I had to give a wonderful dog away to strangers.. It absolutely made me never want to own an animal until I owned my own home. 

Roophus was the second of two dogs that I never wanted. The first was Mallory, and She was already a family member when Roophus showed up to be her (and our) mate for life. Roophus was scared of people, he was a stray, and he was treated poorly by some man somewhere, and He was deathly afraid of me for a while. After a few weeks, he started to allow me to be near him, after a few months, he was always near me. 

After my son was killed, He never left my side and took care of me the best he could. He would make me take breaths when I really would have preferred not to. He was a good dog in all areas his whole life with us. His last year was tough for all of us, but probably more on him. His health steadily declined, he started losing his hearing and his eyesight and he started to lose his senses. He could not smell well, he started to lose the ability to lick, and even had trouble’s drinking. 

I knew he was tired, I knew he had run his course, but I was selfish and tried to let him live out his entire life here at home. Yesterday, he started scurrying around the house looking for something, he would scurry, get lost, start barking for help. He did this for a full 24 hours, I couldn’t allow him to be scared and lost anymore. He would tense up and show fear when I picked him and had been for some time. Tense, he was uncomfortable. Today all of that was ended for him. I held him close and I felt him relax, and then he was gone. I am so tired of feeling nothing but loss of the things and beings that I love.

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Have the discussions.. please

Posted by fozzynok on 05/27/2019

It’s Memorial day here in America. it was a pretty long day. My wife and I decided to attend the local ceremony. After the treatment that we have received, we decided to basically just sit in the crowd and just be there for the ceremony and for the few people who we know and respect. This day is always awash in good and bad memories, flashbacks, shadow people and odd recollections. This is what brings this blog today to the front of my mind.

Think about all of the discussions that you have had in your life.. the good ones, the bad ones, the ones that you wish that you would have drawn out, and the ones that you never got to have with the people who have flowed through your lives. I was watching the movie “The Help” and there is a scene where the main character and her cancer stricken mother had a conversation that they needed to have. I have had such conversations with some of the most important people in my life.. and now, for the most part they are mostly all gone.

I came home on leave one year from Germany. I stayed in Class A uniform that day so I could show it off to the family. I walked into my grandpas house and he was so happy to see me, but he was very weak with cancer. He made some comment about getting a hug, but he feared that I would “squish him”. I talked with him for a little bit and left.. I returned to Germany and a short time after that, I received the call that he had passed away.

I had a discussion with my own mother when she was dying with cancer. She was one of the strongest life forces that I have encountered in my life. She was one of my best friends. She would never lie to me.. and she would tell me the truth, no matter how bad the truth actually was. We had “the” discussion. She was in the final stages of cancer. I told my mother a few things that needed to be said. I told her that when she was ready to go, she needed to. I told her that we’d be OK and that she had taught me everything that I needed to be, I told her that I loved her and would regardless of where she was. I told her that it was OK to let go.  I would love to think that it helped her. But I don’t know.

I had a discussion over Myspace with my son one day (night in Iraq of course. We chatted for a little while and he confided in me that he was OK with practically everything over there with the exception of the IEDs.. He feared them more than anything over there. I had come up with something and it was back to history. We loved to share history, and we loved aviation. I told him that this was no different that the Flak that the aircrews over Germany were facing on a daily basis. They hated it, they had no choice but to deal with it.. fly right through it. In less than 24 hours, He was killed by an EFP. I would like to think that the discussion helped him, but I do not know.

I have had discussions with many people, and some people can open their minds and their hearts and make some connection. I find that the number of people that I have to talk to these days are very few. After Micheal was killed (and this is pretty common for Gold Star Families), the list of people who would talk to me, and take the time to listen has all but evaporated. I have my best friend in the world, and he is the friend who sitting in silence is as good as a discussion… they are few and far between. Have the discussions with the important people in your lives.. they surely will be gone from you, and you don’t get to make that call when it will happen. The worst feeling in the world is losing them before you tell them what YOU need to tell them.

Sorry if this makes no sense.. sometimes it happens.

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Ask Americans The Right Question!!

Posted by fozzynok on 05/19/2019

I have seen the same old sabre rattling from the usual sources and frankly I’m fed up with it. I am fed up with the wars, I’m fed up with the excuses and I’m fed up with America’s clueless, idiotic, masses. I have watched with a huge dose of heart sickness and a sort of dread that another worthless war is soon going to be launched by people who love the idea of wars, warfighting and frankly are doing so for all the wrong reasons. They are going to send our military. Our kids, our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. For we who have been forever linked, they are sending our family to war for reasons that cannot and will not be explained.

I have been watching the various news polls both scientific and unscientific and there is always a common theme that I have become aware of and it seems that no one else sees this or again, even cares. One of the polls asks if “you” think America should go to war in Iran. Well here’s the rub. At the point that the poll was seen by me, they were up to 58% voted YES and there were another positive response and two less positive and one negative option. Why do they ask if Americans think America ought to go to war? America isn’t going to war. For 50 years or so, Americans are not going to war. Americans who volunteer to go into the various branches of the military are going to war.

Americans.. Just look at them. Are they playing sports or WATCHING sports? Are they going to wars or WATCHING wars? They are generally slobs who when cornered “almost joined” the military. Come Sunday they are slathered in all of their favorite team’s colors and it overflows in their daily lives, they are emotionally invested to a pretty high degree, they will state regularly in public that “they” won (or lost) a game, they dress like a sports player, in their minds, they ARE a sports player. They play video games where they can fantasize about being whatever it is that they want to be.

Americans love wars in far away places because they can watch videos and support the troops and suffer no ill effects at all, they are only slightly invested mentally, it rarely even flows into their daily lives other than buying some “Grunt” T-shirt, military unit trucker’s hat  or having one or more bumper stickers on their car. THAT is the total investment for “Americans”. Sitting on this side of the issue, it’s what I have seen for well over ten years.

Now lets ask the real question. Are YOU reading to go to war in Iran? Are you? Really? Ask the Americans who would go.. Don’t ask the 350 pound thirty five year old with 4 kids.. Don’t ask the old retired bastards who also have never served. This ought to be polled like “likely voters”. Only include those of service age and don’t even mention a draft to the question. Right now, How many 17 – 30 year olds are ready to head to the recruitment office and join specifically to serve in a ground war in Iran?

I am sick of Americans.. I love the geography of the country, there are several places where I can go an I love wholey and am at total peace. But I am so sick of Americans and their isolation, their greed, their entitled attitudes, their insulation from the evil that they spew. I am for going to wars only after a few million Americans are killed right here in this country,,, and I do mean millions, A couple of thousand is nothing, we can absorb that, send our military off to war for two decades and the vast majority of Americans never feel any discomfort in their lives. If America wants to go to war.. Let’s make sure that there is some real reason and Americans are in danger. That’s never happened.. 9/11 was never going to destroy America.. Not even close. We lose tens of thousands on the highways here every year.. We lose at least that many due to injuries or illnesses.. Grief Porn got us where we are today.. And Americans LOVE IT!

 

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11 years and I’m still here

Posted by fozzynok on 04/02/2019

I wish it was better news, I wish it was anyhow different that it was on year one through year ten. It’s not, its worse. Life goes on, but nothing ever gets better. While I have gotten better and dealing with this, the fact is that I do my best to not deal with much of anything. I’ve lost the desire and motivation to compete for anything anymore. It doesn’t matter anymore to me. I used to really try to be the best at everything like it mattered. I have worked the killer hours in a career that I’ve come to hate and an industry that has for the most part disowned me. The industry has changed to the point that its not even recognizable anymore. Anyone who has real world experience in the Trucking industry is seen as dangerous. There is a new flock of inexperienced people who have been placed in charge to save an industry that they know nothing about. They are money people, anyway, I could rant about that for days. The one thing about the career is that it probably saved my life in the darker days of this life. Working hundreds of hours a week in all hours of the days and nights kept me busy to the point that nothing was left of me to hurt. But it has cost me dearly

My health is pretty bad overall.  At first it was practical slave labor that I loved to the very recesses of my soul. I was a freight throwing animal and my body really paid for it. But I was tough back then and had to work to feed a growing family. The crappy hours, the grind the sleep deprivation, it all added up. I drove trucks all over the country and was a model driver.. Or so I thought. I was the driver that companies SAID that they wanted. No ticket’s no accidents. always where I was where I said I would be.. for I got into training, management and ultimately into safety. And in the in, not one bit of being the best of the best mattered a hill of shit. I’m now old, have arthritis in most of my joints, a decades old knee reconstruction.. add this to depression and its not a party.

I have never been much of a people person, and that’s only been amplified. I used to be a internet discussion animal. A real defender of the middle of the road. Politically one click left of center as it relates to most everything and I was ready to tear into any discussion. It was kind of fun. I was roundly disliked by BOTH sides of the political spectrum equally. I have stated before that right after my son was KIA. I got the business from the left side of the spectrum.. but that was pretty mild and went on for compared to what has gone on for years, a short time. Now without changing much on my stances on things, I have been labeled as a full blown commie/lib/socialist/Muslim loving traitor. Living in a place that is almost universally full of right wingers.. it makes the Island pretty small and desolate. Maybe I need to get a volleyball and name it Wilson.

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Ten Years

Posted by fozzynok on 02/23/2018

So at this point it’s been ten years. lately, I’ve had a lot of time to think.. And thinking is one of the most damaging things that we as gold star parents do. I guess I am speaking for myself of course as all gold star people walk in different steps on the same path. There are things that are still with me and some things that I have been able to pass through even though these things are still in the corners of my mind waiting in dormancy to strike me and make my soul ache some more.

Things that have been seared into my being are still here and will be in and probably damage my and my life until I breathe my last breath and pass onto the something or nothing that awaits us all. Some of these things are not describable or may seem petty or even stupid to others even other gold star people. Same path.. Different steps.

Some examples of these horrible things I will go into and hopefully they will make some sense or someone with some psychiatric title will suggest I check into the funny farm. Some of these are simple things.. And some are more complex.

Signing my name to anything. On February 24th 2008.. I started hating to sign my own name. Why? Because I am the person who signed the form that for all intents and purposes, officially  made my son dead to the world. Now It’s asinine to say that not signing my name would have changed anything, but signing my name to that form was one of the most mentally damaging things in my life. Again I had to sign a form that basically asked “if we find the rest of him… do you want to know?” These are all things that someone has to officially do. That someone was going to be me as I felt it was my responsibility.. Now, every time that I have to sign my name, that twinge is there..

Being places that Micheal and I enjoyed, Doing the things that we did. Sometimes it catches you unaware, and sometimes you just have to go to these places. For years I was bothered by the sight of the hangars out at the local airpark. I have been there many times since then. The noises and sights have not changed much. I have attended some military events here and there, and during those things, I just miss him. We used to go to places together and just have so much fun learning and seeing things, It’s not really possible anymore, and I know that.  I sometimes catch myself having fun and the feeling is instantly crushed by the guilt of having fun.

Seeking peace (many failed attempts). I speak for myself here as I have tried and failed at so many attempts to find something that can bring some sort of simple joy and an escape from the pain of this. Motorcycles used to do it for me as a young man.. Motorcycles don’t really touch it this time. I don’t really drink and don’t do drugs so that’s not an escape for me. I have just wandered the planet trying to find something that can be some sort of an escape. One of the only places in the world where I can find air and peace? Is the shorelines of California and the Pacific ocean that can recharge me and allow me to breathe in some calming air. It’s really weird. I have always loved the ocean.. And the ocean has always been a special place.  I feel that I have worn out my welcome in some places in many attempts at that small sliver of joy I am intruding on others when I go, and that has caused me to pull back in going out there. I must do without it as much as possible lest I ruin some of the relationships with people there. The only problem with getting out there and feeling that good feeling is comes with the realization that it’s only temporary and I have to leave it again. The trips back here are the worst..

Becoming even more disillusioned with the human species. I have read human history, and apparently, humans cannot and will not learn that we are simply stuck on an ever shrinking rock with more and more humans on it… and they all hate each other. The species at some point will destroy themselves and their world to the point that it will no longer support them.. And the species will die off.

The searing pain of not being able to fix the pain that this has caused to my family. We are each individuals dealing with the loss of the same person.. But the pain aspect is different for us all as Micheal was a different person to all of us in our daily lives… and no matter what I do, I cannot make this any better for any of us. From this year on.. My oldest son is now forever my youngest son..

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Fuck You, We won! No fuck you, You lost!

Posted by fozzynok on 10/20/2017

This is something that I have been complaining about and failing for the last 9 years. Probably even before that. I wrote the other day about attending the funeral of a very recent KIA. It already had me in that twilight zone like stupor of “it was like yesterday for me” because of it. The day I was driving home from the funeral, I start hearing the chatter on the news of the latest controversy of many other controversy and saw the battle lines starting to form and heard the chatter begin. I do my best to try and get people to STOP this endless bullshit about the necessity to WIN over these ignorant topics. This latest flap though is different as there is a dead soldier in the middle of the tug of war and again, the win lose crowd and fighting over the rights to the corpse. All the while there is a distraught, confused, angry, proud family stuck right in the god damned middle of this.

 

I’ve heard it from both sides and of course I am further to one side mentally than the other in this BUT I am stuck in the middle of the two groups as it relates to having these two groups as I think that neither side can even see themselves for what they are doing to the family. These groups have once again lost sight of everything but losing and winning.. They must win, they must be right, no matter what they have to do or what they have to say to do so. In the end, there is still the family with a massive hole in it and absolutely no one is thinking of them. Like most of these events, the opposing sides cannot even tell you the soldier’s name. All they can tell you is that the corpse is their property to win.. They will drag the coffin down the street for their victory lap and eventually when their victory lap is over, they will drop if off at the curb with the rest of the garbage for someone else to deal with as they run off for their next battle with the opposing side.

 

I keep hearing about the words.. The words were spoken! The words words were not all spoken, the words? The words were spoken, the words were spoken by a politician and they were spoken to a VERY damaged lady.. I have been there, most of you on this page have been there. Words are funny things. There can be a whole lot of them being said at you and when SOME are said, it’s rather irrelevant to what they are because YOU ARE STUNNED by the ones that you HEARD. The rest are not even there. So when the defenders come on to say “but the words that were said” are talking from their point of view with an undamaged mind at the time. They are speaking from the win/lose fighting mind, a focused mind. I can speak for myself that when my son was killed and to this day.. Its not about all the god damned words anymore.. Its about the words that hurt.

Right now while the winners and losers are getting up and getting ready for their battle over the words and ready to win.. there is a flag draped coffin at the center of it and its just a god damned object to these people. To the families of the fallen, its just not. but we nor the fallen matter to the teams.. they don’t hear our words at all.

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Still here, just venting and drinking…

Posted by fozzynok on 09/30/2016

lawyers-suck-dicks

Today has been an interesting day… now the house is quiet, and I’m getting drunk. Today was just another normal day.. A day where things come and go and you fend off things that bother you.. Ghosts and memories get deflected rather than dealt with  lot of the time. As I have walked down this path that I have been chained to, I get better at eating and shoving down the things that use to be so bothersome. This gets easier, I got my defense up and deflect a lot of things that should bother me.. Then there are the other things. The things I just cannot prepare myself for because they are normal everyday things involving the every day lives of those doing their every day things. They are unaware, and oblivious because they are just living..

This week as had a few zingers, a few things that just have become “things dealt with”. I work on an old Army Air field where they trained aircrews during WW2. I am also working on getting my fat ass into better shape.. so I walk, I walk as much as possible throughout the day, but mainly a longer walk after work or at lunch. The first thing that got me and broke me was walking by the hangar that they actually pulled the jet into when Micheal came home. As I cleared the front of the hangar during my walk, there was a plane.. being pulled into the hangar, similar in size and shape.. hooked to the same tractor.. and I just melted down.. good thing its a practically abandoned airfield.. That bothered me all week.. its a fucking airport now… they move airplanes around in there every god damned day..

Today was the top of the mark for hitting me in the chops.. I got home to a letter from a laywers group.. well it was appearing as a letter.. but the word “ADVERTISEMENT” was clearly posted all over the damned thing. Apparently some Marine Lance Corporal referred these assholes to us.. its a chain letter type of affair. Now I have a great feeling that this ADVERTISEMENT is mainly due to the assholes in congress overriding the President’s veto of the 9/11 “lets sue the Arabs” lawsuit. So the day after the veto.. the chainmail ADVERTISEMENTS a flooding the Gold Star families mail boxes with military names and our son’s misspelled name in an attempt to goad people into obtaining their “services” to sue someone to gain money.. for themselves. Does anyone in their right mind thing that lawyers are doing things to help their fellow man?

In my opinion these lawyers who send this shit our our lower in my eyes than the terrorists. At least the terrorists are doing things out of some real emotion or insanity to reach their end.. These fucking scumbags are doing this and interjecting themselves into our lives and using the fallen to gain monetary gains.. This probably makes no sense to anyone other than some other drunk old fucker sitting here realizing and proving more and more every day that our son’s life was meaningless to most and now that he’s dead, only a means to make money for themselves or to gain some false feeling of understanding what all this means.. like the excitement or sadness of watching a somber movie or a slasher film. America is full of fake emotions and fake people.

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Valhalla .. Dare not mourn for your dead.

Posted by fozzynok on 05/15/2016

It’s May, cursed, wretched May. Like the other numerous and dreaded times, days and months of the year. I get that I am viewed as angry and reactive sometimes. I get that some people mean well, I get that other damaged people have their own physical and mental weight to bear. But words mean things and even well-meaning people say some of the dumbest and hurtful things when trying to deflect or protect their own version of things.

Most of the time and most of the year I do well enough to bit my tongue and deal with the things that I hear and see from people. Other times, when the wounds are open and the nerves are raw, I just retort and want someone to retract or at least acknowledge that what they say or do (while important or comforting to them) is damaging and harmful to others who may or not be in the same level of peace or tranquility in their lives.

From right after Micheal was killed, I became well aware of what was to come. I was fully prepared for the onslaught of those opposed to me, I was well prepared for the attacks from the same. I was well prepared for the political and philosophical attacks on me using my son’s death as the weapon to inflict the wounds that so many people were waiting for their chance to inflict.   I was of course never fully prepared for every incident or well-meaning person who says or posts things that in their state of mind or state of blissful ignorance wounds just as deeply as those who have revenge in their minds.

From people who send religious based posts about how much better Micheal’s existence is now that he is dead. The patriotically themed flag draped coffin photos and the pictures of the private mourning moments of relatives saying their last good byes and hoping in the recesses in their minds that this is all some mistake. The politically motivated posts from people on both sides who are just SURE that I am either now anti-war or pro left or right and need to see some meme or story of someone bashing the current or previous president or administration in some way to make sure I vote the right bastards out.

Today another young man who has seen more hell on this earth that should be required of anyone posted a video of some of the experiences of his war… HIS war..  The faces, the places, the memories, the fallen, the living, those who are still over there in that hell… and STILL someone comes on to dress the guy down. When remembering the fallen it’s a personal choice of the individual to do what they want to do and need to do at that time. PERIOD!

The “He is in a better place” crowd just needs to shut the fuck up sometimes! There IS a place and a time for everything and building some place in some mythological land where those killed in combat are all sitting around a big table are well and good in the proper place and time. When the wounds are open and the memories are being shared by friends and family who lost the people they are remembering.. How about you step the fuck back and just let it be?. Just shut the hell up for a little while! Sit on your hands and do not make a post that will make you seem like a well-meaning but heartless idiot.

There are times we can smile and pretend that your comments are well-meaning and there are times when we are silently screaming in our own heads for you to just shut up with that shit. I don’t care that you think my son or your bros are “in a better place” with gods and other warriors.. For the better part of his life, his time was with us, and we are allowed the god damned privilege to mourn them. Is it selfish? Yeah… I guess it is. Do I give a shit if that fucks up your narrative? No.

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One of those days. This is what this blog is for

Posted by fozzynok on 08/07/2015

I started this blog a long time ago. I described why back then and its true still today. Today started off bad.. it was normal for a Friday.. then as I left town, I looked at both wrists and realized that I had left my “jewelry” at the house. My son’s memorial bracelet was sitting on my nightstand at home. I have grown so accustomed to it always being there, that I simply got caught not paying attention. Throughout the day there were “things” that dug into me. I found out that today is Purple Heart Day. That started a roller coaster of emotions when I read the comments on the page that I was on. I was pretty upset, but its the upset that is there when I realize that even well meaning people do not walk the the shoes that I walk in.

I have no idea how long that Purple Heart day has been observed, but as usual the posts were mostly about having a “happy purple heart day”. It just ground on me a bit. I shouldn’t have but responded with; ” Just like Memorial Day, there are no “Happy” Purple Heart Days. I could be wrong, and as it relates to some people’s “Happy Alive day”, I guess I’m just being too sensitive. It makes me feel like an asshole when I can no longer feel good about “homecoming videos” and every advertiser in the world using veteran homecoming in every commercial they can. Guilty as charged. I am sometimes a bit jealous of them, and sometimes it just flat out hurts.

Today also I had a picture hit my Facebook timeline that again really hit me hard.. I am so honored and appreciative that no one else was killed or badly wounded when my son was KIA. Today one of the men who was in the vehicle that day posted a picture of himself and a nurse apparently after the EFP attack, being released from the Baghdad ER. Some days it feels like things happen when I do not keep my bracelet or the dog tags on my person. I understand that its silly and a bit superstitious.. but it is what it is.

To all of those who have bleed for me to earn this medal. I salute you.

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