*photo Stahr Cabral
My Father new he was going to die…His body was beaten from heavy mileage. He often would say he was had been living on borrowed time, as he had been blown up by a grenade in Vietnam. His injuries had left him 100% disabled; missing his left eye with shrapnel in his brain. He was a wild man, a man who lived life with gusto. I believe this in part due to the fact that he knew he had cheated death when he was still a very young man. He was not afraid of anything, including his own death.
He came back to the East Coast to be with his family in 2012 when his life was growing short & the mileage was catching up with him. That summer he began talking about his death and how he was going to die around Christmas time. We believed this to be true as he was a Spiritual man and spent much of his last years talking with his Spirits. As Christmas approached he made plans to spend it with my youngest sister Stahr and her family in Massachusetts. On Christmas Eve he got ill and was admitted to the hospital. On Christmas day my sister Sandy drove to Mass. to be with him. I stayed home & set up a Family Altar and asked the Spirits of our Ancestors to be with him, my sisters promising me they would call if I needed to head down. I stayed in Vermont as I had an appointment to get my windshield replaced on the 26th of December. As I was sitting in the waiting room of the auto-glass store my Grammy Brown spoke to me. She said “You need to head to the hospital and you need to bring the flag.” With those words in my head I knew my father was truly passing. When my car was repaired I drove to my husbands work and told him that we needed to head to Massachusetts. We gathered up my daughter & my sisters daughter and began our trek south.
The flag was the clearest message I could have received, assuring me that the end was in sight; as during my Father’s tour in Vietnam he carried and American flag in his backpack. Just before he was blown up he sent it home to his Grandmother who raised him “Grammy Brown”, because he was afraid he would not live to bring it home. I grew up with the same flag on display in my home…a testament to what he had endured; stained and worn like my Father had been. War never leaves a soul clean, it leaves a worn pattern on the psyche of those who exper