The only time I ever remember my dad getting badass angry was in September 1969. That entire month was a very trying, sad time in our lives.
It began on September 13, when Army personnel came to our house to notify me that my first husband, an Army combat medic, had been killed in action in Vietnam on September 5, 1969 — eight days before.
In the days that followed, there was so much to do. Funeral arrangements had to be made, a cemetery plot and headstone decided upon, the Army and the local newspaper came to the house to present several medals posthumously, and we were notified that his body would arrive at the Columbus Airport on September 19 — another six days away.
As I said, it was an emotional time for my entire family and I was heartsick and feeling drained.
We had just returned from the funeral and I was lying on the couch in Mama and Daddy’s living room.
There was a knock at the front door and I remember Mama saying, “Oh Joe, not now. No more today. She’s been through enough. Just thank whoever it is and tell them she’s lying down — I’ll call them later.”
The house had been like Grand Central Station with an almost continuous stream of friends, neighbors, and relatives bringing food and love and hugs. Still, I listened to find out who it was.
It was Jehovah Witnesses. Normally, Daddy would politely ask them to leave, but it wasn’t working. He told them sternly, “We just buried my son-in-law today. He was killed in Vietnam. I’ve kindly asked you to leave. Now I’m telling you.”
“We don’t believe in sending our sons to war. Those who die without faithfully serving God will receive the “resurrection of the unrighteous.”
I think that’s when the top of Daddy’s head blew off, because I heard the front door slam shut.
Mama told me weeks later that he grabbed each of the men by their belts and the back of their shirt collars and threw them off the front porch into the grass.
Without saying another word, they left.