Northampton, MA, USA
My father was stationed at a hospital in Pleiku.
He didn't die there but I suspect that many in my family felt that in some ways he did. My father's name was William John Rybczynski--John was the name he used most. My parents divorced when I was still very young. I don't remember how I felt when he left. He died in May 1988 of alcoholism when I was eighteen years old.
Over the last year I have been writing about my father, his death, and how his experience in Vietnam changed him and as it turns out, me. I've lived up until now without ever saying my father's name in the presence of family. Sometimes, I guess, pain is best expressed through silence. I want that silence to end.
My father had a hard time living after he came back from Vietnam. What he saw there I can only gather from what I've read and seen in film. I know that it was often bad and that he brought it back home with him. I am not ashamed of the weight he carried around with him in the years before he died though I was for a long time. Now, I think of him living on the streets, drinking, drinking, drinking, and I wonder about what he would have been like if he hadn't had to go to war. I wonder what it would have been like to know my father.