An executive father. Alcoholism. And that gallon of wine.
As I walked through the wine section at the grocery store, I spotted one of those gallon jugs of wine. I was searching for Christmas presents for my friends. But that brand glared at me.
Daddy — my IBM executive father.
We loved him so. But year by year, his demons took over. Every night, there was a gallon of wine. On weekends, he’d alternate with a case of beer. But it was one or the other without fail.
When I finally got my driver’s license at 17 years old, my job every weekend was to get dad his case of beer. I knew it was wrong. But I felt I didn’t have a choice. He was a loving father for a long time and funny, too. His dad came straight from Ireland, and my dad was proud of his heritage.
As kids, we only saw dad on the weekends. But he always brought us toys. He was engaging while we were young. He made us laugh. He was our world.
Dad eventually moved up the corporate ladder. There was the big house on the “right” side of town, a private school for us four kids and a lake house with a matching boat. Mom wore designer clothes.
On the outside, we were this prosperous family.
On the inside was neglect, verbal abuse, and taunting.
Our perfect family began to spiral out of control. I was the forgotten child — the invisible one. And I tried to stay invisible. Because, why would I want to go to proms or football games or basketball games when I was told repeatedly by my mom and dad that I was fat, stupid, and ugly?
By the time I was in high school, I had watched my dad run into the walls. Sometimes, he’d fall to the ground. I’d hear my mother cry at night.
We all have our baggage, but by the time we became adults, I was certain it was guardian angels that raised us.
Dad lost his executive job. We were told he took “an early retirement.” But that was just another lie.
He lost his lake house — the place I loved for its calm waters, gentle breeze through the trees and quiet peacefulness.
Dad started working for another accounting company and lost that job shortly thereafter.
As I got older, finished college, and became a nurse, my husband and I had our first child — my pride and joy. By the time we had our second child, I had sunk into a deep depression. I wasn’t sure if it was postpartum depression. But I felt frequent gloom and doom.
I diagnosed myself and felt it had to do with my parents and the depression and the suppressed thoughts I lived with for so long. I started therapy sessions and joined “Adult Children of Alcoholics.”
I learned one important message from this: you can’t go through life blaming your parents. Eventually, you have to deal with the past and grow from the cards dealt to you.
Some things can’t be forgotten.
Sometimes it’s that one thing that scrapes the cobwebs of your mind:
Like those gallons of wine at the grocery store.
Like those pretty dresses at the stores that were never attainable because we frequently wore the same clothes every day and were laughed at, while mommy wore designer clothes…
Mom died at the age of 63 — colon cancer. I felt no remorse. I cleaned her bowel movements in her bed along with the assistance of the hospice technician. I felt obligated, but I held no love.
I had sadness when my mother died … sadness for the mother I never had.
Dad died at the age of 77 — a ripe old age for an alcoholic — end-stage liver disease. I saw him minutes before he died. He was just a shell with sad life consumed in misery and alcohol.
I chose to remember dad’s sense of humor. The times he made me laugh. The time he brought me flowers when I graduated from Catholic school. The time he insisted on walking me down the aisle, though my mother warned him not to since my husband and I had “lived in sin” before we got married.
A controlled, sad life.
And that gallon of wine.
Debbie Moore-Black is a nurse who blogs at Do Not Resuscitate.
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