About My Father

My father came down to visit over the weekend as today is his birthday. I enjoy spending time with my dad but it gets harder every time I see him. For those who do not know, my father is a smoker (anyone who knows me at all well knows how much I abhor this particular habit) and he is an alcoholic. I feel anyone who drinks 12-18 beers on a nightly basis must be classified as an alcoholic. He claims that he “only” drinks 6-8 on weeknights, but since I only see him during weekends and/or vacations, I cannot speak as to the veracity of that statement.

His drinking caused a number of problems throughout my childhood. I don’t know how many jobs he actually lost due to drinking, but I do know that I went to three different kindergardens, my family of five lived in a small motor home for awhile, and that I spent 8 months during junior high homeless; we lived in 8 different places during that time, including some campgrounds since it was summertime. I spend much of that time living away from my parents as we were split up staying with friends or people from church at the time. My father lived out of his car for awhile; it was not a pleasant time. It took me years to finally talk about it openly. I imagine most of my friends growing up never even knew. It is hard enough to be 13 without dealing with that kind of crap.

My mother attempted to overcompensate, and I know she meant well, but she was horrendously overprotective and verbally abusive. Anyway, it was not a happy childhood but we always had food and were never hit and I know plenty of people who had it much worse. I managed to excel in school–knowing it was my only way out–and I have mostly put those days behind me. Mostly. Until last night when Luke said something to Jay about wishing that his grampa didn’t drink so much. I haven’t said anything directly to my son about my father’s drinking, but Jay and I have talked about it before so maybe he overheard. I know that he pays attention to things and I suppose this is a wake up call that I need to be mindful of what I say in his presence. Anyway it took me back to my childhood and how much I wished he would stop drinking and be a “normal” dad. I don’t know what normal really is, but it can’t be living in ~20 homes by age 17 or having nearly every promise broken when you’re a child. I remember the smoking, too; he used to smoke a couple packs a day (he has supposedly cut back and is trying to quit, but I can still count and if he’s cut back it hasn’t been by much) and I came home from elementary school and begged him to stop smoking because we had learned what it does to your body. I flushed his cigarettes down the toilet, but all it did was make him angry.

It bothers me so much that Luke is already becoming aware of his smoking and drinking (he said something about the smoking while we were out at lunch on Saturday when my dad had finished early and gone outside to smoke). But what really bothers me is the fact that I cannot do a damn thing about my father’s self-destructive behavior. He is so pleasant and optimistic and he talks about all the places he wants to go and the things he wants to do, and he talks about how much he loves us, but how can he say that when he is doing his damnedest to ensure an early demise? He talks about where he wants to retire and I want to scream at him about how can he possibly think he’s going to live to retirement age at the rate he continues to poison his body. The effects of his self-inflicted destruction are becoming apparent; he shakes often and he actually seems drunk now, while he didn’t for all those years. He looks older than he really is. It breaks my heart because today is his birthday and I can’t help but wonder how many of them can he possibly have left.

Advertisements

8 Responses to “About My Father”

  1. Patti Blaine Says:

    (((Jill)))

  2. Terri Says:

    {{{{{Jill}}}}} I know what you’re feeling and I’m just down the road or a phonecall away if you need to talk.

  3. Jenn Says:

    {{{Jill}}}

    I don’t know if it would do any good, but you might consider playing the tough love card and tell him that Luke has noticed and commented on these habits and that for his health and safety you can no longer allow these influences in his presence. Sometimes it actually works.

  4. Rani Says:

    Oh Jill. 😦 I can just hear the pain in your voice. All I can do is pray that your dad wakes up and realizes what his destructive behavior is doing to his body and his family. *hugs*

  5. Glenda Says:

    Hugs Jill.

    I don’t really know what else to say but after that heart-felt post, I just had to say something.

  6. Faith Ann Says:

    {{{{{Jill}}}}} I have such a hard time understanding how people can be so destructive with their bodies and I wish we could just wake them up to what they are doing. It’s so sad that even your son has noticed.

    You should be very proud of what you have accomplished despite the hurdles you had as a child/teen. Your son is very lucky to have you as a role-model.

  7. Faith Ann Says:

    {{{{{Jill}}}}} I have such a hard time understanding how people can be so destructive with their bodies and I wish we could just wake them up to what they are doing. It’s so sad that even your son has noticed.

    You should be very proud of what you have accomplished despite the hurdles you had as a child/teen. Your son is very lucky to have you as a role-model.

  8. SueStitcher Says:

    HI Jill,
    I just read this entry today as I’ve not been online as much lately.

    I’m rendered speechless. I also too am filled with admiration for your achievements despite what you’ve been through. Good for you!

    Many of us carry deep scars from less than happy childhoods. Many parents did the best they could with what they had to work with, it seems, but for many of us that left us longing for much more than we had emotionally and perhaps materially. It’s hard when your own parents’ problems impact you so much. I so admire you for rising above what you experienced as a young person. It truly is a wonderful thing.

    I admire that you feel the freedom and openness to share of yourself here.

    Knowing that others have been through a lot too can help us all in so many ways.

    God bless,
    Susan in SoCal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: