"Once upon a time we try our laughter.
On the blackboard of pain"-E. Perkins
Alexander II, Alec (or Duece as I called him in our private joke) came home from Iraq in early 2008. That he was suffering was obvious to his father. 12 or 16 or 18 months fighting in the Sunni triangle could make any hard man suffer. That Sarah was still in Iraq did nothing but add to his pain.
So we talked. Out back on our covered porch (rebuilt from Katrina), we would drink coffee or a beer and speak of war. Those unspeakable acts one does to survive. The pain of surviving whenst those you love have not. Surreal to speak of the tactics of killing with your son. He needed to vent, to release to let go of such guilt. I directed him to the VA but he would never go. Only to his father would he even admit such thoughts.
One day he came home with a puppy. This tiny mewing thing, with eyes barely open, fit in my outstretched hand. Alec swore that a girl he knew, who worked at the local animal shelter called him because they could not care for this litter. They would be "put down" tomorrow or at least quite soon.
This dog whould not eat the "puppy chow' Deuce brought home. So I beat an egg into a bowl of milk and heated the mix. The dog lapped it all and then fell asleep. We agreed to name her Scylla, from our shared favorite book. I knew then, as parents do, that with college and work for my son, I would have to do the yeomans work of raising this dog.
Then it came to me...to teach my son a lesson I would raise this dog as the most spoiled dog in America. Though thru the next six or eight months I did teach Scylla, our Rottweiler Bitch, to sit and stay, walk on a leash (God we would walk seven to ten miles a day) and of course "potty training" her. I took her everywhere; Mass at seven then the gym until I was done then to Brother Thomas's for coffee. Sit on my lap as I drove? No problem. Eat out of the fridge or off my plate? Again and again please. Sleep in my lap? Tear up the entire house? Whine and beg and then sleep with me hogging the bed? I live for this dogs shit, so come on.
After so many months Alec gets notified that his unit is returning to Iraq. Such is life in the Reserves and the National Guard. But this is my son. My only son. And he does not want to return. A long family history of war makes him feel shame. I comfort him and then make my decision.
It does take some time to get anyone to sell this white, middle aged man a dime bag of pot. So be it, it's done.
The next morning, over coffee I tell my son to make his seperate peace. I toss the bag to him. "Smoke dope, get fat, tell them you're crazy but don't go back. Let some other father's son fight this war."
Then he is in my arms, no different then when he was a babe, crying. I cry too. 6' 4'' and 185lbs and he feels lighter then a babe. We hold tight to eachother for eternity. My son. my son.
A few months later and my son is dead. Murdered. After the Priests and the funeral I am left with cleaning up all his crap. I donate everything to the Church. Except his dog. Bringing a dog to Hawaii is a mess of regulations. Four months of vet detention is mandatory. I pay this without a thought.
I fly this dog, this Scylla to me. She is fine, though now I have an 80lb Rott Bitch who is spoiled rotten. I did this. Scylla's great joy is to sit in my lap whilst I scratch her butt. I did indeed do this. Even now, two years later I live for this dogs shit. Beat me and abuse me and I love you even more. This dog is part of my son and I can no more ignore her then I can my son's soul.
Though my finest day as a father remains the day I tossed my son a bag of weed. I can never cry enough.
" Scylla was a romantic fool, it killed him eventually. He was always trying to overpower his love objects with the breadth of his passion. Every lover he ever had was unfaithful to him." W. Goldman