No, I am not going to talk about the Alan Jackson song. But I do remember vividly where I was “That September Day”. I was in my freshman religion class when I learned that President Regan was shot. I was on a Japanese military base near Hirosaki City Japan when I learned about the space shuttle Challenger exploding soon after take-off. I was driving down the 101 in Tempe after a class at Arizona State when I heard on the radio that Magic Johnson had aids. And I remember where I was when I heard those words “your father was an alcoholic” for the first time ever.
It’s funny how our brain works, how it holds time still for us when something major happens whether its shared nationally like the examples above or personally. It was a nice April afternoon at Marine Barracks NAS Cecil Field Florida when I called my mom back home in southern Louisiana. I was a little down and attributed it to being homesick and or it was closing in on the first anniversary of my father’s death. We chatted about things back home, how Uncle Howard was doing, how was work, what is Snoopy our dog up to. You know, the usual things. Then I said to her something like, you know it’s almost a year since daddy died and he never said I Love you Shoo. Then those words came out. And those words that came out my phone was something like “It’s not that he didn’t love you he just couldn’t cause he was an alcoholic”. WOW! Shocking. I was 19 at the time. My father drank every single day I can remember, expect for the frequent trips to the hospital for heart conditions! Now I love my father dearly but growing up in our rented country home was rough. We had not heating or air conditioning. He often didn’t come home after work. Some days he’d talk, others he didn’t. He yelled daily at either me or my mom. He was a tough man to be around most of the time. He drank daily and my mom often yelled back at him that she married a drunk. But an alcoholic? My dad? How can that be mom? A drunk yes, but alcoholic? It can’t be!
Of course she was correct. That is exactly what he was. And I was caught up in the middle of alcoholism, like many little kids are. Expect this is our norm. We don’t know anything else. We sit watching Gilligan’s Island and laughing but inside we are worried that our alcoholic parent is not home from work yet? Is he ok? We wake up early to see that parent leave for a fishing trip cause you are concerned it may be the last time you see that parent alive. You go on hunting trips you may not want to cause you believe that you are protecting that parent from harm. I could go on and on with different scenarios that a young kid growing up with an alcoholic parent lives through. Alcoholism doesn’t just affect the drinker, it affects everyone. I knows no age, no race, no time. It doesn’t go away when the alcoholic leaves us via death, moves out or you leave home. It’s with you forever. It never goes away, I suppose.
My father is an alcoholic. And I am now, 30 years after his death, an Adult Child of an alcoholic Parent. This too was a shocking discovery that took years to realize and is taking years to learn to cope with.
Drinking affect everyone within that family. Get help. You are not alone!
Till we meet again. Good Day.
Mind of Shoo.