The beginning of the New Year is well and truly over. I know this because I saw Easter eggs in the shop the other day. Because I spent two weeks in Vietnam over Xmas/ New Year I feel it necessary to finish where I left off with my last blog regarding my childhood trauma around Vietnam.
There was never any apprehension regarding visiting Vietnam, and it is a wonderful place, and I had a great time. There was this need though to know more about the American war (as they call it over there), so I couldn’t resist a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels where the Viet Con guerrillas lived underground for twenty years. This is a fascinating story which will have to wait another time or you may research yourself and be amazed by it.
I also searched bookshops for anything that caught my eye regarding the truth about the war. I wanted to well and truly put this thing to bed. I found a book called ‘50 years (1945 – 1995)of Vietnamese Diplomacy’ which turned out to be exactly what I was looking for; again, another story which will have to wait. Hint though; I’m not so sure that the Vietnamese were the bad guys.
I don’t get to see my six brothers very often, but when we had a reunion by our sick sisters hospital bed last week, I mentioned that I had spent two weeks over Xmas in Vietnam. Ray said, with a big smile on his face, “I’ve been to Vietnam.” We both laughed, and in that moment, everything was put to bed.
I’m off to Vietnam for Xmas, two weeks of r ‘n’ r. I have this ‘facing my fears’ mentality about it. Having spent my childhood and adolescence in the sixties when the Vietnam War was raging; I was left with psychological scars which caused a lot of anxiety whenever the name was mentioned. It didn’t help that I had a brother who was in the army, in Vietnam as well. I’ve never spoken much about the traumatic experience and as I’ve got older it doesn’t bother me anymore.
Although it was a great concern having a loved one in a war, I think it was harder watching my mother suffer for those twelve months. Her constant worry was obvious and I think this affected me more than anything else.
National Service was compulsory back then and if you were unlucky to be born on the dates that were announced then you had no choice but to join the army. I often ‘tongue in cheek’ say that Gough Whitlam saved my life and of course many others. He abolished National Service when he won the election the year I was expecting to be called up.
At times I could be an angry young man but when it came to killing someone then I just couldn’t comprehend it. Even the thought of being brainwashed into being able to do it was unimaginable.
I just thought I’d get that off my chest before I visited Vietnam, which I hear is a very beautiful place.
Alan P Jackson
I used to watch the kids scamper into the car, that is if they were going somewhere they wanted to go, otherwise it was a battle to find them. I would lean over to the driver whom ever that may have been, and say, “Drive carefully. You have precious cargo.”
Those days have long gone, and I would hope soon that they will have precious cargo of their own. I never took them for granted but sometimes I wish I’d spent more time, a lot more time with them, quality time that is. Even now I yearn to see them more often than I do.
There’s something very special about having my children by my side, even though they are well and truly grown up. There is no doubt they have endured many adversities over the years and I’m proud of them for the way they have risen above them. It also makes one feel proud as a parent to know that we may have instilled more values than we realised.
One never knows how one is travelling as a parent, and hindsight is a wonderful thing. I’m not here to give advise, but if I had my time over again, I’d give my children time, time and more time. They just want to feel worthy, important and loved. I wish I’d felt that when I was a child. I think I would have had a better relationship with my self and therefore others.
Alan P Jackson