Sad stories aren’t typically reserved for a Friday afternoon, hopefully this blog airs some other time. But this blog will showcase alcoholism and how it affects a person, a family, and their inner circle.
A close friend of mine from back in the day used to live kitty corner from us. We were thick as thieves, the two of us were. Best friends, our parent’s best friends as well. It seemed we did everything together or were always with the other one’s parents going/doing something. My mother hired his mother, and my dad and his dad were always working on a project or working on a 12 pack. Everything was great until I went off to college. Suddenly his parents were having major relationship issues. I never really understood it, but in a sense, I chalked it up to him being a hot-headed prison guard and her being a strong woman. Anyhow the relationship started boiling over very quickly. Suddenly the arguments almost came to fisticuffs, nasty exchanges were the regular. He could not get away from her quickly enough or stay away long enough. I never really understood it. They eventually had the world’s messiest divorce, literally fighting over the smallest things.
Things started becoming clearer after a couple years, my mom would never be able to see her because she was “sick all the time.” Literally plans made weeks/days/months in advance were cancelled, at the last minute…. sometimes literally the last minute. There were rumors of heavy drinking, but in all honesty, the household and groups I grew up around, most parents enjoyed a drink or two after work. Nothing out of the ordinary. I found out later she was actually guilty 3 separate times of taking a break at work, going to her car and sipping on a flask. Keep in mind she worked for my mother. She was caught all 3 times by parents at the school, never once was she disciplined.
The last-minute cancellations continued but things took yet another turn for the worse. She had moved in with her mother to save money and continued her drinking ways. Worse yet, hiding it from her 87-year-old mother. When my mother and I would visit, it was not uncommon to see her taking bathroom breaks or pouring something from behind the cover of the fridge door directly into a coffee cup. Clearly this was the rule not the exception.
My friend came home for a long weekend, flew in from out of state (upper Midwest) to visit his mother, he knew it wasn’t great, but felt obligated as any son would. I dropped him off, and saw his mother on a small trike, as she had broken her foot from falling (likely alcohol induced, but I cannot say for sure.) She fell repeatedly off her trike, and I decided after about 15 minutes, that it was time for me to leave. It was 9 AM. Not long after, my mother received a call as my friend had “disappeared.” I called him and he was driving (his own car was left here) back to the upper Midwest. Yeah, he had seen enough after a short stay.
The DUI charges also began racking up, with 4 happening over a 20-year period. She called me once to ask for a tow company while not knowing where she was saying only “I’m on the side of a freeway.” Folks Sacramento doesn’t have too many freeways, the northeast corner has even fewer. I cannot recall a time when I didn’t know where I was whilst stranded on the side of the roadway. This story led to bracelets around her wrists and a trip to the blue roof inn to detox.
She has been in and out of rehab more times than anyone can count. When my mother would visit, she would routinely smell booze on her breath and be told, “there is more being drank inside these walls than outside.” Sad but there is far more, and it only gets worse.
After about 3 years, my mother finally figured she just had to show up unannounced. She did, and likely regretted it. Her friend had the front door open only the screen closed, it wasn’t locked. She found her friend on the couch, half clothed. Jack in the Box burger and partial order of uneaten fries on the table. She claimed it was her lunch, the time was 3:45. Two drained bottles of wine rested not far from where she was seated. My mother inquired as to how she obtained the beverage and food. The response was door dash for the food, and AM PM delivers wine. Most disturbingly, she said she just can’t help herself in regard to drinking. Her friend had finally lost her license after several major surgeries and DUI’s. She had bruises on her body, from falling. Her friend used to be a well-built woman, not fat or heavy by any means, and was always on the cutting edge of fashion. Now she ambles around with a walker, and likely weighs 100 lbs. while being 6’3. Her legs are the size of golf balls, she is all skin and bone. She refuses additional help, or rehab, and my mother was quickly whisked away. Her son does not wish to see her again, but she wants to leave all kinds of money behind for him so he can love her.
In conclusion this is what addiction does to the human body. My mom’s friend likely won’t last until Christmas, and it is no fault of anyone but her own. She didn’t want to work for the State anymore despite being only a few years way from being fully vested, instead she went to work for my mother. She became parttime worker, fulltime drinker. Any amount of the grape or beer or hard liquor will eventually cause major damage to the human body. The DUI’s just put the toll in real dollars as opposed to physical appearance. She ruined her marriage, her relationship with her son, and all her friends because her world revolved around drinking. It’s sad but it happens quite often. She couldn’t even slow herself down when her son visited …because like any other addict, they do not care. Most disturbing was the comment about having AM/PM, a gas station by the way, delivering your beverage of choice. If there is such thing as a rock bottom, that has to be scraping pretty close to it.
At 74, I’m sure this was not her idea of the glory years unless happiness is staring at a bottle and hoping to drain it in one night. College days are over, and you have ignored warnings from the health community, you had parts of your colon, and stomach removed, and you are still refusing to change your ways. Lunch isn’t served at 3:00, that only happens after passing out from drinking on an empty stomach. The empty calories “filled you up” and your body is lying to you as far as being full. The going to sleep isn’t because you need rest, it’s because your body can not take it any longer and needs a shut down. DUI may be a badge of honor at 25; it’s a sad story after 35. It’s flat depressing after 55, and unconscionable after 65. A lesson never learned. Now you are in serious peril of not making it to the next year. Friendships, marriage, and your only child, all lost because you couldn’t put the bottle down, even after several trips to rehab. It’s so bad folks that even her only brother is done with her, she moved in with her niece and was kicked out after 90 days due to you guessed it, her drinking. Addiction kills, sadly for this person. At least without a driver’s license, it won’t make her kill anyone else.