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* * *

For me, this is a season of endings and new beginnings. This is the last of this series of columns. It was planned that way from the beginning, to be a column on the invasion, as observed by an old soldier. The invasion is over, and so is the column.

Another new ending and beginning. As previously mentioned, I'm writing this from Cabool, MO. I came here because my father was dying, to help ease him through it if I could, and to help pick up the pieces after. He went yesterday, last Thursday to you. I can't tell you how much I already miss that sweet, complex, generous, selfish, spiritual, sensual, sane, and crazy man. He was 95, so his passing was not a tragedy, but it was hard.

My father was a man of many accomplishments, not the least of which was that he made sergeant in one hitch in the pre-WWII Army. This was in a time when, if you made PFC during your first enlistment, you were thought to be a comer. Read From Here to Eternity, if you don't think it was a big deal.

When I got back from Vietnam I was shot to hell -- mentally, physically, and spiritually. I had multiple wounds, half the people I'd ever loved were dead, face down in a rice paddy before they were 30, and the career that was the only life I knew, or cared about, was gone forever. You would not have wanted to know me then.

More than anyone else, it was my dad who put me back together. He did it with his endless capacity for acceptance. He did it by teaching me the yoga techniques and spiritual principles he'd started learning when he was a kid behind a mule-drawn plow in the Missouri Ozarks. He was supposed to be Li'l Abner, not Krishnamurti. He had sent away for a yoga course from an ad in the back of a magazine when he was 12, and he was still doing it in his 90s. He was strong as a bull. When he was in his 70s, we lifted weights and shot baskets together. In his 80s he went dancing two nights a week.

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