My story may vary in its specific details, but the story remains the same in that a child growing up with an alcoholic parent is usually a sad one full of heartache and heartbreak. The one thing we all have in common is that we want it to stop, to go away and to enjoy a happy life with our loved ones, to be loved by our mothers and fathers. Only a dream perhaps, but one that so many share.
I have to admit that even at its worse, my experience along with my siblings pales in comparison to so many others. Yes, my father beat us, he tried to hit me over the head with a frying pan, thank you mother for intervening . Yes, he showed up to the schools that my brothers, sisters and I attended, embarrassing us but no matter what the circumstances, it is a nightmare for the child living through it.
Without going into great detail I can tell you that I loved my father who has since passed. No matter what happened, how terrible, I love my daddy. I would do whatever I could to help him with his latest attempt to stop drinking and make a better life for himself. I may not have forgiven, but I would forget past situations and deal with what was now and what could be made better to achieve a happy life for all.
Being a devout Catholic was not enough to have my mother stay married to such a man, after all she had to take care of her children and their safety and so there was a divorce. Out went dad and who knew where or how he would survive but we all understood why. We did not have cell phones back then so keeping in contact was not as easy and convenient as it is today which made for some worrisome times. Leaving messages where ever you could in an effort to reach dad and know how he was would be a common way to manage this unsettling situation.
The years passed, dad would move from place to place which many times would be living on the streets, in the gutters with nothing but what he had on him and perhaps his bicycle if no one had stolen it. A place to live here only to have no where to call home would be familiar changes in dads life. My dad had joined Alcoholics Anonymous and would go for long periods without drinking only to fall right back into that life. Each time he stopped I would become so hopeful and excited only to be devastated when he fell off the wagon.
I can’t tell you why or if it is right or wrong, but I loved my dad and each time I was able to enjoy his presence, although it is a bittersweet time, I took it in and treasured it for what it was. It would be around the time my first child was born, my son when my father passed away, but not before a visit with my brother and his wife and child along with my family would sit by his side, his mother and sister right along side him as well and his current girlfriend who would care for him until he passed.
I did not get to visit him much during the last ten years of his life, but he had quit drinking and was nine years sober when he passed from the effects of lung cancer. You see, he was a smoker, sometimes four packs a day and in the end he refused to give them up saying that he wanted to die happy and since it was his destiny he continued to smoke, oxygen tank and all until his last breath.
I look back on those years and I can only have a smile on my face when I remember my dad because when it is all said and done, what happened did and life went on. Here we are where ever we are in life and I know that I don’t let those memories have any negative effect of my life, but remember the good times there were to enjoy even in the darkest of moments.
Here is a link for those interested in information about Alcoholics Anonymous