That’s no e-cigarette dangling from his mouth. He’s packing a toy pistol in his right hand, a balloon in his left. Notice the car parked in the detached garage.
Fast forward 15 years or so and the cigs are government issue, the rifle has live ammo, and he’s traded in his balloon for a tattoo of a parachute. Proud 82nd Airborne Infantry soldier.
Now in his 60s he enjoys fishing with my mom, her name still tattooed on his right arm. No more cigarettes. The parachute on his left arm is still there. It’s faded but the memories from that experience are as vivid and fresh as the ink once was when he first heard the buzz of the needle before it pierced his skin.
I’m so proud of you Daddy, even though I resent what that war took from you by way of peace, sobriety, and restful sleep. You’ll always be my hero. My first love.