This I Believe

Lorinda - Spring Hill, Florida
Entered on August 3, 2007
Age Group: 65+

Vietnam changed many lives: The inhabitants of Vietnam, the soldiers who fought the war as my husband did, and their families. As a combat medic experiencing the Tet Offensive, a nineteen year old came into contact with unbelievable atrocities that even a more mature person would find hard to contend with. .He had left his neighborhood of buddies who had grown up together: They shared the same block, the same youthful craziness, and the same love of family. The war, most of the neighborhood could not share.

This ultimately changed the teenager’s perspective on life; having lost his best friend to the Vietnam Conflict, future relationships and the outlook on the future were no longer unaffected. Every day became a fight for survival; no longer making sense. Returning home was no help. The people around him could not possibly understand, making a homecoming to normalcy unattainable: Adding to this was the realization that a majority of people thought you had done a terrible thing, not a heroic one. There were no accolades, only scorn for the young soldier.

I met my husband years later. He could be very considerate, but at other times present a cold, uncaring façade. Alcohol was his primary lover; I became his second. He came into my life when I too, was struggling with where I was in the scheme of life.

As a child, I lived in a dysfunctional family: My mother was mentally ill. As a teenager, drugs became prevalent; I felt the need to help my peers. As I turned nineteen, I was working at a successful full-time job. My career was flourishing, allowing me to travel, and live a good life. When I met my current husband, my second, I was disillusioned with marriage; I was under the impression marriage was for life.

My parents never had the opportunity to attend college: My husband is a college graduate. I wanted this too. As years went by, the idea became harder to grasp. To plunge into the academic world at an advanced age was hard to explain to my friends, and difficult for me to have the strength needed to begin the journey. I was now living with health issues and an alcoholic husband. Each day’s events would be a surprise. Would I be able to go to work? Would the apartment be on fire? These would be questions I did not know the answers to. As some of these questions took on a reality, education was not a consideration.

As time passed, sobriety entered our lives, and we relocated. Volunteering became a stronghold, one that was fulfilling, and aided in the continuation of my observance of the lives of children.

The thoughts of obtaining my goal of attending college became a central consideration and passion. At sixty-four, I entered college. I will have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology next year; a dream that seemed inconceivable. I am a substitute teacher; I am able to stay abreast of the current problems facing children.