“Dose’s” picture has been on my dad’s nightstand for as long as I can remember. A grinning boy that I’ve finally grown old enough not to see as “one of Daddy’s buddies” and thus an elder but as the boy he was who never got that privilege of being an “elder.” He would’ve been just over 70 this year had he lived.
Dose prophesied to his boys that he would not return home from their tour of duty alive. None of his brothers had lived through their 20s he told them and neither would he. Before the company shipped out, he was working on a tank whose brake was not properly engaged. It rolled over him as he worked; he lived a day or two without much of a head, my father recounts in his typically graphic reflection.
The grinning boy that never became a man represents so many soldiers that left parts or all of themselves on battlefields. I often say that I am happy to know my dad; honored I was chosen to be his. But I am fully aware that the man I know is not the one my mother fell in love with and married. It’s a bit of a bummer. That guy seems like a cool dude–not necessarily; couldn’t possibly be, cooler than the man I know. But I think I might’ve liked to have known him outside of stories and pictures (and maybe gotten some of his speed skills–he was a track phenom too). But I was denied that. War does that. War requires that. Freedom requires that.
On Memorial Day, when we memorialize the physical bodies lost in service, we have to also remember that those who came back physically alive did not come back whole. And on Memorial Day, I memorialize them–and the parts of them we lost–too.
For Uncle D, Uncle Orville, Uncle Alexander, Uncle Billy, Dose, Phanelson, Ed, and Daddy-before-he-was-Daddy and all the others who have sacrificed all or part of themselves for the liberty of, and justice for, all.
(v.) to hurry away; conveys sense of urgency
Robert “the Bitter Dose” Hurst
Boys at 19 don’t get to be fathers of girls
by sharing the parts cut off
by discretion & the camera’s viewfinder.
I chant my numbers like a mantra:
no male in my family made 30 and
this jungle will suck our stories from my lips.
It’s a sweet abbreviation, Man.
“Dose.” Will not give you permission
to extend faith that wouldn’t fit in our rucksacks.
Blood, I understand. Thanks for legacy
–no luxury of babies, ancestors;
to decide I existed.
Your daughter wasn’t born
wasn’t an apparition we couldn’t decipher
in our haze. Bravado wore us out
until our next meal became eventful
enough to cram into letters decorated
with cursive lyrics she paints now, sometimes glues,
into the truth of me.