It has taken me ten (10) years to tell this story. It is NOT my story, but my husband and his friend's story. My husband and his friend served in The USA military during the Vietnam Era. My opinion, they had very little in common, other than Vietnam Era (two tours), fought together in another part of the world, pledged to be friends for life and both were die-hard 2nd Amendment supporters.
My husband returned home during the Vietnam Era with ALL the symptoms of war, with the EXCEPTION of drugs. His friend was NOT so lucky.
The first four years of his return was the hardest. Nightmares & sweats, sounds & windows had to be the worst. Getting him to stay on his medication was no walk in the park, but "we" made it. "We" means he did NOT work, his JOB was to get better. I taught public schools, plus work a part-time job, paid all the bills and thanked God we did NOT have children, at the time. We stayed married 39 years, 10 months and 1 day, until his death.
In the fourth(4) year of my husband's recovery, from the "living" curse of surviving a war (his words NOT mine), his friend's mother telephoned to say his friend was Not doing well at all. He was on drugs heavy, living on the streets, two failed marriages and had not seen or wanted to see his children.
Completing his conversation with his friend's mother, my husband ANNOUNCED that he was going to help his friend, would I continue to take care of home. Promised me he would stay on his medication. Further promised, he would make-up ALL, that I had done to keep our marriage together. He left, stayed gone all most a year to take care of his friend with my blessing. My husband kept his "promise" to me and then some.
My husband's friend live in one of the very southern states, tall, blonde, blue eyes, "swastika" on the back of his right arm, White supremacist (my opinion), stayed friends, until his death. His friend and him visited each other once every year, until his death. The first time his friend EVER said anything to me, was at my daughter's college graduation. He expressed, if it was Not for my husband, he would NOT have the GOOD relationship with his children. Further that my husband helped him re-establish the relationship with his second wife. He and my husband talked on the phone two to three time a year. His friend only stayed at our home 1 time in all their visited. I was most "comfortable" with this, at the time.
When my husband died 2010 there were four(4) people he wanted to be pallbearers at his funeral. His friend was one of the people. I telephone his friend, told him of my husband's passing and he responded, he would call me back in 30 minutes. He called back in 30 minutes and I expressed to him my husband's request. He said "they" had first discussed my husband's request during the Vietnam Era and he already knew of my husband's request. His friend asked me, if he could come early before the funeral services to be with me. I said it was okay, ONLY, if he stayed at my house. He agreed. His friend's further, asked me, if he could have an hour alone with my husband before the "Wake". I agreed.
When I picked him up from the Airport for the ride to my house, I told him I was a Progressive/Democrat. His response was, that he would NOT hold my political persuasion against me. I went on to say that I did Not know, what my husband's political preference was. He laughed and said he did NOT either. Further, that his friendship with my husband was 'forged' in a war that neither one of them had a choice with participating in. My husband's friend and I had a very good 10 day visit.
I will visit my husband's grave site, like I do every Memorial Day, since his death. My husband's friend still telephones to determine, if I'm okay at least twice a year, since my husband's death. MOSTLY, I remember asking my husband one time ONLY, before he died, how could he be friends with a man with White Supremacist views. He responded one time ONLY, his friendship with his friend was NOT based on his personal beliefs, nor my husband's personal beliefs, but what they experienced collectively in a war neither had a choice to participate in.