My paternal grandfather passed away in 1990 when I was 12 years old. I adored him and he was a loving, gentle grandpa. Most of my memories of him were either of him on the beach or sitting in his favorite chair reading or writing in his journal. It was not until many years later that I learned the truth about my grandfather…that he was “like my dad”. He was a verbally abusive, belligerent alcoholic. I was stunned. It didn’t change how I felt about him, but I was very surprised and it made me think about how alcoholism seems to permeate families.
Recently, my sister was at my grandparents’ house and brought me back one of my grandfather’s journals (even though they were always in plain sight, everyone seemed to respect his privacy and I had never read any of them growing up). As I was just reading it, one entry really touched me. This is what he wrote in 1989:
“My son said that I have a problem to my wife. I can’t blame him for feeling the way he does. Christ, will I ever learn- I just hurt everyone.”
This, naturally, made me think of my father (although the son my grandfather was referring to was actually my uncle). I wonder in his sober moments if my dad really thinks about what he has done to our family…how he has hurt us physically and emotionally? I wonder if he really understands how his drinking destroyed our family? My father knows he is an alcoholic because he has occasionally said “daddy drinks too much” (my dad speaks in the third person…I know, creeeeppppy- lol). I drink very, very cautiously and if I never had another alcoholic beverage again in my life it wouldn’t faze me at all. So, how did my dad grow up with an alcoholic father and STILL become the way he is? Or is he the way he is BECAUSE my grandfather was an alcoholic? Obviously those are rhetorical questions.
I just don’t get how both my grandpa and my dad could both know how much their drinking was hurting their families and still do it. I know it isn’t that easy and that it is a deep-rooted addiction, but it makes me sad that neither of them tried to stop. My grandfather died at a pretty young age of complications from diabetes, so maybe he would have tried at some point, but my dad has been an alcoholic for almost 23 years (wow.) and as far as I know he has never taken any steps to get help.
It just makes me really sad.