This week has been rough. I did not even try to hide it either. I was so angry and upset and sad and it all fell into my lap at one time. My Mom told me about my Dad. I do take what she says with a grain of salt of course because she can stretch things for the drama of it and in some ways I wished she had not brought up but in her defense, I asked her to tell me what happened. Then again she brought it up to me so I wanted to know. I do find in some cases what we do not know will not hurt us. I am sure there are therapists every where wanting to strangle me for saying that. I suppose a therapist ought not to feel the urge to strangle anyone but I know those are the types of emotional shut off values they are looking to pry open in people right? That is the how and why of making their income, no? I digress.
My Dad has been an Alcoholic almost his entire life. He started to drink at 14 from what I was told. He was hellion along with his older brother back in the 50s and truly did a lot of crazy stuff out on Long Island. I don’t know if it was just treated as boys will be boys or the stuff of the 50’s but for my Dad it turned in the 60s and the 70s and the 80s (though for a brief time in my life he was sober so only part of the 80s) and the 90s and all of the 2000’s SO you see he is a lifer.
Of course when he was younger and drinking hard and he looked like heck he would just bounce back and he was most definitely until maybe is mid-50s a high functioning alcoholic holding down a full time job making amazing money and he garnered a lot of respect. In fact, had he not been an alcoholic I firmly believe he would be wealthy right now and he would have enjoyed an amazing life right now as a highly paid consultant semi-retired golfing and kicking back on beach like he used to like to do at some point in his life.
I can go on and on about my Dad. He is brilliant. Truly. So incredibly frighteningly smart that I think it hurts. He is a workaholic. He has a work ethic like no one I know. He would get up to be at work at 5-6am and often did not come home until after 6. He traveled the entire world. He was very handsome with striking blue eyes and a friendly outgoing personality that would warm up most anyone. He was a strong confident, and fair manager in his business life. He was an amazing story teller. He would spin a tale about his youth and I would be so intent on listening I would feel like I was there and I would lose track of time and space. He was always willing to try new things, foods, anything. He took me to horseback riding lessons and swim practice and he was a part of the Indiana Princesses for me and before that for my brother in the Cub Scouts. He was mostly an active and engaged father even though he was gone a lot of the time. He could start a book at noon and be done with in it mere hours. He taught me to explore the world around me, he never let me off the hook, and when he was healthy I know it was the happiest time in my life as a child.
A couple of years back, when we visited my family in Seattle it was the worst trip I have made to see them. Honestly, there are have been many worst trips to see my family but of course this one involved my Dad which is unusual. We hardly saw my Dad or brother the whole trip. It was over Fourth of July so my Dad suggested a ball game and fireworks which was great for the kids. Yay. By the time we found my Dad he was so drunk he could barely speak and I thought he was going to keel over right there. I was mortified for him and my children. I do not want them to know their Grandpa like that and it hurt my heart that another generation would see him like that. It took almost a year for me to get over that.
My Mom reported to me that his drinking is as bad as ever. He hardly takes care of himself. He gets bad rashes and my brother said he will go into the bathroom and stay there for oddly long amounts of time. The worst of it was he apparently fell down the stairs in their house from the top to bottom one night. He was drunk and he hurt himself badly it sounds like. Bruising and bleeding mostly. The thing that really hurt was that he said ‘I think I am being punished and I am hell. Why can’t I just die?’ He was raised in a hardcore Catholic home so we believe he will not outright ever kill himself but he engaged is this long process of trying to kill himself with alcohol. He would be better off NOT DRINKING in order to do that but let's not go there...
He will be 72 this summer and he has been on suicide mission for years and years. He smokes multiple packs of the worst unfiltered cigarettes he can find and drinks more than he probably did in his 40s. I love him so dearly and the few times our phone rings late into the night or early in the morning I think this is it. He is gone. I have been steeling myself from this moment for years it feels like but in my heart I know a huge chunk of me will go with him when he is gone. I feel like if I can talk about it now it will help but as it was with Santana and Barb, those wounds just lay freshly opened often even years after each have gone. I find myself sad and hurting about each of those two and I will hurt at odd moments when I least expect it. I think it is made harder with Dad because we have been so far apart physically to be sure but most definitely emotionally for so long. He told me when I lived with him 2000 that he would never ever change for anyone and I should not think about trying to change him and that this was how he wanted to live his life and he did not care about anyone or what they thought and so I have mostly just blended in the past 13 years and allowed him to do that shielding myself through distance and boxing away my emotions over him neatly as best I can. I know as the child of an Alcoholic that I cannot change people (nor do I want to) and if he wants to drink himself to death that is his choice, it is not about me; this is about him.
That does not stop it from hurting…