• Carmen Milligan

COPD is a little BITCH

My dad has COPD, and has for years. He was a smoker until the grands were born, so he stopped smoking about 25 years ago. He was also in Vietnam during the defoliant chemical Agent Orange love affair with the US military from 1961-1971.


In Vietnam, dad was a member of the Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol, or LRRP. As part of the 35th Infantry Regiment, he was a "Cacti" and went to reunions all over the states. As a matter of fact, at one that he attended, when he walked into the room, a man approached him and said, "I never thought I'd see you again. You saved my life in Vietnam".


That's my dad.


I remember the dad who co-chaired my show choir boosters with mom in high school. The man who searched high and low to find me a first car that they could afford and that I would be proud to drive. And speaking of cars, my dad also surprised me during a visit home from college with a Honda CRX, the "IT" car of the day. I have a pic somewhere of the two of us taking it out for the first time together.

That car was terrible about hydroplaning. BUT, it could have been because I was driving a touch too fast. The CRX was a fun little car.


He is also a man of truth. During those early driving days, I pulled out of our driveway in Columbus, Georgia, mom and dad watching from the front porch. I backed into the street, right into the way of an oncoming car. The other driver saw me and stopped. I looked at my dad from the car, and said, "I didn't see them!" He replied, "You didn't look!"


Mom and Dad are in their mid-70s, and I have never enjoyed them as much as I do now. Every single day is a gift, and I know it. Mother is still teaching me things, both in life and in the kitchen, and Dad is a great source of perspective, advice, and he is funny as hell.


It's hard to see him trying to come to terms with the fact that the active, strong, badass soldier has quietly slipped away somewhere over the years. The man replacing that soldier is just as vital, strong, and badass to all of us, but in a different way. I'm sure he would disagree. I know he misses being able to tend to the yard, hang Christmas lights from the roof, and bring all of the groceries into the house in one trip. I also know he will find a way to make peace with this current version. For me, I tell him often that our relationship has never been sweeter.

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