Memorial Day: A Season for Flags by Dr. Bill Simpson


by Dr. Bill Simpson

My father’s hands always trembled and his head always shook. Once, as a child, I asked him why. He said, with a sly grin, “Must be those bad Simpson genes.” He was totally deaf in his left ear. Again, if asked, he gave the same response.

I learned at an early age to gauge my father’s state of mind by the degree of his tremors, sort of an emotional Richter’s Scale. Quick to laugh but also quick-tempered, he almost never erupted at his family. Instead, if upset or angered, he would step out onto the porch and smoke a cigarette.

One day I found a samurai sword in the back of a closet in our small farm house. When I asked him about it he didn’t answer. When pressed, his tremors increased and I knew to back off. The same thing happened later when I found an old shaving kit full of black & white photographs of my father and other young men, all dressed in military uniforms. Over the years I accepted the fact that my father would never talk about his war so I quit asking.

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