Patty and I both nearly had a heart attack the other day. Patty’s passport went missing somewhere between West Virginia and Washington DC, just two and a half weeks before our departure date. We finally tracked it down at the Vietnam Embassy. It had been returned there instead of being sent back to Patty’s home. She now has it in her hands. Good thing, because Patty only just got her passport a few months ago. The trip to Vietnam in December will be the first time she has left the U.S.
What do you think about the fact that you’re about to go on this trip?
Honestly, I’m kind of surprised. I never really had any desire to go, never even thought it was for me. I heard about the trip during the Father’s Day Sons and Daughters in Touch (SDIT) conference. I don’t know what happened, but somewhere during that weekend something just clicked and I thought I have to try to go. I prayed about it and talked to my husband and he very graciously and sweetly agreed for me to do this. I guess I’ve finally come to the point where it will mean closure for me. But it took me by surprise that after all this time, I had this deep need to go.
What do you hope most from this trip?
I want to go and see the last things my Dad saw. I want to try to get a better understanding of the Vietnamese people, especially the sons and daughters on the other side. I want to see how they are this many years out. I’m just curious how much we have in common, and what the differences will be.
Is there anything you’re afraid of?
Probably my own reaction to being over there. I have watched a lot of stuff about the war on TV and it’s difficult to watch, but I’m almost more afraid of the feelings I won’t have. I mean I’m expecting to be emotionally overwhelmed, I’m expecting this closure, but I really don’t know if that will happen.
How has your family reacted?
My brother can’t understand why I have a desire to go. He’s not super negative or anything, but he was 13 when Dad was killed, so he remembers him. I don’t. I was just two years old. I made some foolish decisions growing up without a father figure. It wasn’t until I was much older that I felt the profound effect of the reality of the loss. When I went to the Wall for Father’s Day for the first time with SDIT and heard Amazing Grace, I started crying. I didn't go to the actual funeral like my siblings did because I was too young. So that moment, hearing that hymn, was for me like having my funeral for my Dad.
Why do you think you feel different about going?
My brother and sisters have all these years growing up with him. They have memories of him, and of the war. Maybe that’s why no one else wants to go.