Hi, my name is Norman Allen. I want to share my family history. I am from a family of 4, my father is a Psychologist and my mother is a university lecturer at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. I love them, so much, drawing from the sad incidents in my family. I have a brother and a dog. I love Marie, my dog, so much. He makes me run when I go for a walk sometimes.
My family history begins with my grandfather who I remember vaguely. There is an old photograph of grandfather in my father's collection, he hasn't disposed of it since I knew him as my father. We moved from Seattle in Washington to Alaska seven years ago and my father didn't singe it with other pictures. My mother expected him to. She says it makes him sad, sometimes. Although my father comes off as macho and strong, he's not extremely masculine and I love him that way.
It makes the family feel alive when everyone seems tough even when they're not. Everyone has a soft spot. My mother: crawl up behind her after a fight and tickle her, it makes her giggle so much she kisses you. My brother, Alexander, is quite tough. I'm his little sister of seventeen and he can't put up with being angry with me for a long time.
I make myself roam around the slippery path of the garden and I scream his name. He comes rushing towards me and I get to look at him in the eyes. Locking eyes with him makes him feel uneasy. I apologize to him he tries not to smile. He would. He always does. I love to see him smile. His chin raised and his smile spread across his face.
He was a war veteran in Vietnam. I do not know considerably much about him but my father talked about him when I was young. My grandfather, Norman Adams, fought in Vietnam for about 3 years until the end of the war in 1975. My father said when he was younger, his father had an awesome job. He would leave in the morning and come back at sunset and they were happy. He joined the war for reasons which weren't financial.
I recall how he licked his lips when he talked about him. It is night and he has probably wound down to his friend's bar before coming home. He doesn't drink, a bottle of Hennessy is too much for a week because he doesn't drink daily. But he drinks. He says it reminds him of his father.
He talks about him when he's not drunk but he's sober. My mother wraps herself around him and hugs his head to her breast sometimes. I wonder how my father copes with his work as a psychologist in the community hospital but I'm certain he does very well. On some days, he comes home with a bottle of wine or a flower bouquet and says a colleague or a client dropped it in his office.
What to expect of a man who in his late forties looks like a thirty-two-year-old?
Norman Adams, my grandfather, had a fat cheek, a round face, and he kept a mustache. My father doesn't wear mustache but he grows his beards which I stroked until I was twelve.
My grandfather fought in the Vietnam war, had a bomb blow over his partners in an aircraft and he went numb. My father describes the event vaguely as my grandfather had probably done.
The air is hot and the sound erupting from the aircraft was quick and loud. My grandfather was on a rescue mission. He was holding the lines for his fellows when the aircraft suffered a blow. Grandfather heard a loud bang beyond what he's supposed to and he couldn't tell whether he was afraid like never before or not.
My father gestures when he talks about his father's war experience. He holds his fist and bangs it on the arm of the chair he sits on. Sometimes, my mother doesn't hold him.
I recognize how much impact my grandfather's experience has over my father. Grandfather had too much in his blood during the war. The army gave combatants heavy doses of stimulants to make better and fearless soldiers. Psychoactive tablets like amphetamines, Dexedrine, Darvon, and others, even codeine, were given to them. I do not know the precise stimulant given to poor Adams who was so poor and helpless after the war. Once, they thought he was mad because he hallucinated.
My father doesn't say too much about why grandfather joined the war. Grandfather was obsessed with America and its role in international peace drawing from previous wars. He believed that war is integral to the human race, and America has a critical role in creating universal peace. The peace which is without war.
My eldest brother Alexander will be 20 in October. My father said he looks like his father. My father said he visited the swing as he did before the war. But it was different after the war. His father was no longer interested in the sound of the super-fast wheels. The day he screamed and began to cry was the last time they visited the swing.
My father later said it is PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He said that grandfather remembers sad, tragic events of the war while the wheel emits its loud noises. It could either be the sounds of a banged aircraft or the explosion of hand grenades during close combats and invasions.
My family history is laden with this story of my grandfather. My grandmother died of heart disease right before I was born but my grandfather lived 5 years into my life. They said he caressed my face when I cry and he called me little Allen. Little Allen. Whatever it means.
I and Alexander love to do sport. My father says it keeps us healthy. I do not know how to play table tennis like my father but he cannot beat me to long-distance races. Alexander only has legs for basketball. My father reminisces his youth when he was sport active, the days he bought two bread sold for 2 dollars because they were just 2 dollars. He sometimes thinks that his childhood experience should shape ours. But things are different now, and we have slowly, slowly adapted to different identities starting from grandfather's reputation as a poor war veteran.
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