So I went to bed last night thinking about my last two blog posts. I guess it was really on my mind since I have promised total truth telling on this blog. And I knew when I woke up this morning that I would have to do a follow up blog. This may not be popular, but it is the truth. And I know that I need to always speak the truth...... My dad drank......A LOT! I have posted that he usually had a beer in his hand. And I even shared yesterday that he experienced health problems because of his drinking. But the truth is, HE DRANK so much that it caused serious problems. There may be some in my family who would disagree with me. Some who might think it not really very nice to write these things. But I know that I need to share the reality of my own experiences with my dad - and that means telling the truth about his drinking.
It was much more socially acceptable to drink in the 1950's and 1960's. Men came home from work and had mixed drinks or beer. Or they stopped after work for some "refreshments". And smoking went along with this. You were not at all shocked by smoking in every scene on television. Even Lucy and Ricky smoked on "I Love Lucy". And they often were seen drinking mixed drinks. Ricky actually worked at a nightclub on that show. No one really thought much about it. This was the time period that I grew up in. There was much less talk about problems with alcoholism or drunk driving. And very little was said about what drinking and smoking might do to your physical body.
And here is some truth about my dad. He was hospitalized when I was just 2 years old with serious stomach problems. When I was 4, he had pancreatitis and began taking insulin for diabetes. I will never forget the ambulance coming to our house to take my dad to the hospital after he collapsed in the bathroom when I was 6 years old. All of these health conditions were make much worse because he continued to drink. And he didn't just drink a small amount. He drank until he was very drunk. Almost every day. He never managed his diabetes. He acted as if he didn't have it. And that is the reason he spent the last three years of his life in a wheelchair and on dialysis. He did not want to give up his beer or his Manhattans.
Because I was the youngest child and my siblings were gone from the house, I spent a great deal of time with just my mom and dad. It was during those years that I watched what my dad's drinking did to my mom. She felt powerless to stop his drinking. And I lived many, many years in fear of my dad causing a serious or deadly car accident by driving drunk. When I was in Junior High and High School, I would wait up to make sure that mom and dad got home safely after they went out for the evening. I knew that my dad would drink and that he would never let mom drive home. I remember many times, being in the car with them, wondering if we would make it home in one piece. My dad never had a serious accident caused by his drinking and he never got a ticket either. But it doesn't change the fact that I know that he often drove very impaired and took risks with his own life and the lives of many others.
My mom took care of my dad at home mostly, during those last three years. He had made her promise to NOT put him in a "nursing home". Those three years were so hard on my mom - emotionally and physically. My dad was still a big man and she had to transfer him to the wheelchair, in and out of bed and the bathroom. Into the car and back into the wheelchair. They lived in a townhouse with stairs and she finally got a "stair climber" so that my dad could get up to the main living area. But after a time when it became to hard for her to get him onto the stair climber, she resorted to creating a living space for him on the lower level. This meant that she made countless trips up and down those steps with food and drink and to care for my dad. During those three years, I watched my mom go from a vibrant, healthy women in her late sixties to a thin, nervous and drained old lady. I was 400 miles away and had a sick child and I was unable to be any help to her at all. Mom and I often talked to each other from hospital rooms in separate cities. I feared that her health would get so bad that she would have a heart attack and die and my dad would live on! Her biggest regret was that my dad had so little actual "retirement" time. But she realized that he lived his life exactly to his own choosing. He made the decision to drink and eat whatever he wanted - with no regard for his health. And that choice took him away from all of us sooner than it could have been.
He could have had more time to travel. He could have had more time on that pontoon. He could have had more time with his grandchildren.
Mom recovered from her years of taking care of my dad. She took care of her own health and made wise decisions. During the 25 years that she lived beyond my dad's death, she lived a full and happy life. She traveled to visit with her sisters. She visited with her children and grandchildren. She had many friends and she spent many happy days at Lake Maud. She made lasting memories with many of her great grandchildren. My sweet Lia and Ellie have so many great memories of Great Grandma Nona and they talk about her all the time. I am so grateful for these precious years with my mom.
Yes, my dad's drinking certainly had an effect on my life. I never drank more than a sip here or there. There was a time when Ken was known to drink - sometimes more than he should have. But when he experienced a health crisis, he made the decision to stop drinking. Both of us experienced our parents drinking and the consequences of that choice. I am very thankful that Ken made this decision. So if you ever wonder why you see Ken and I drinking a soda or even water when we are out at social events, this is the reason. Each person needs to make their own choices about drinking. But I think it is also important to tell the truth about my own experience.
This is a blog and because of that, I don't know who may ever read these words. Maybe you are in a spot where you are scared about someone else's drinking. Maybe you are frightened by your own inability to stop drinking. The problem might be drugs. Possibly this has struck a cord with you because of some other health issue. Maybe this reminded you of your own experiences as a child. Whatever your situation, I want to tell you that no matter what.......Jesus loves you. He loves us all when we fail. He loves us when we do things without thinking. He cares about our emotions and our feelings. He loves you more than you could imagine. There is no quick or easy answer to some of the big problems that many are facing right now. It may seem dark and hopeless. But there is hope and light in Jesus. Don't let a moment pass without stopping right now, and simply taking a breath and asking Jesus to show you His great love. I can assure you, He is faithful and you will experience his presence when you ask. Then find someone you can trust and tell them your truth! Speak the truth about what is bothering you. Don't be deceived into thinking that you can't tell anyone else your problem. That is a lie from satan! Jesus cares and He will show you others who will stand with you. You don't have to face this alone.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible in Psalm 40:2-3. It reads.........
"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him."
This is the reason I write this blog. To tell my stories. To talk about the many times I have found myself in that slimy pit. And then to tell how I found myself standing on Jesus. He has given me that new song! He has given me a wonderful testimony and so much to praise Him for. And it is my desire that everyone who reads these blogs would catch a glimpse of the wonder and amazement of Jesus. It is my hope that many will trust in His promises. I am waiting to hear all of those new songs of praise from each of you!
Jesus, thank you so much for reminding me that you are THE TRUTH! You desire for us all to share truth with each other. Thank you for drawing me into the place to share these words. Holy Spirit, let your comfort come into the hearts of those reading this blog. Give us all renewed assurance of the great love of Jesus. Amen