My father was a die hard alcoholic. He drank a fifth of Seagrams Seven every single day. It caused more discord and pain in our lives than I have room here to convey. Just take my word for it that chaos was a daily situation in our home.
There were many contributing factors, but the drinking was a core sinister plot to tear our family apart. I grew up with fear, anger, sorrow, and trepidation resulting from my life at home.
My father never came to see me play one sports game, he never came to one awards ceremony, or church program. He came to my Jr. High and Sr. High graduations, but other than that, he did not participate at all.
But I loved my father dearly. I was Daddy’s girl, and I knew it.
Early of a morning when he had not yet begun to drink that day, he would sit at our kitchen table watching the early morning farm report on the television.
It was his job to get me up for school. My mother was a teacher, so she was busy getting herself ready. My father would come into my room and turn the lamp on my chest of drawers on. It was a soft light and not the glaring overhead light in my room.
He would whisper, “Baby girl, it is time to get up now.”
I would moan and express acknowledgement. But I would always just roll back over and snuggle back in the covers. He would come back a few times, each time a little more vocal and urgent, but never angry or irritated.
At some point I would get up. I would sense that I had pushed the limit and I did know that I needed to get up. But I would walk straight into the kitchen where he sat at the table and I would crawl up into his lap, rest my head on his shoulder and nod back off to sleep.
There were two reasons I did this. One was that it bought me more sleep time, but the second and most important was that I loved sitting on my daddy’s lap. He was affectionate, which my mother was not. I felt an unconditional love from him I didn’t feel from my mother. In her defense, there are extenuating reasons that I won’t go into here. Just know that my mother loved me as best that she could and knew how too.
But, as I said earlier, I was daddy’s girl, and I knew it. I sat on his lap until I was well into my teen years. I was probably at least 15 or 16 years old. I can remember him having to shift me and move his legs to get comfortable. I am sure I was cutting off the circulation!
Because my father had such a dear place in my life, and because I detested the turmoil that drinking caused, I would lie in my bed and beg God to help. I pleaded for Him to make daddy stop drinking and for mom to keep her mouth shut so as not to antagonize him while he was drunk.
Sometimes on Sunday afternoons, my dad and I would go to another rural town about thirty miles away and watch horse races. It was someone's farm where the owner had constructed a track, put in fences and even some bleachers. The horses were owned by other farmers and ranchers. It was just a fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.
Dad and I always sat in the pickup to watch. We could pull up to the fence and see as well as from the bleachers. This one particular day I remember it was drizzling off and on. My dad always kept his bottle of whiskey in the truck and would take a drink from time to time while we sat and watched the races. This day happened about a month before I turned 16.
On this day he parked the truck where I would look out my side door window away from my father so to see him, I had to turn and look over at him. Somewhere in the middle I turned and looked at him when he happened to be lowering the whiskey bottle back down from his mouth.
Suddenly uncomfortable at me seeing him take a drink, he tipped the bottle towards me as if to ask with the motion if I also wanted a drink. I can remember scrunching up my face in disgust and shaking my head. I then just turned back to continue watching the race. That entire interaction transpired without a word from either of us.
When the races were over, we drove back home. I went in and went to the kitchen where my grandmother, my mother’s mother who lived with us, sat at the table. My father came in and went into the utility room and raised a hamper where my mother stored his clean winter coveralls.
As he raised the lid, he looked and saw that my grandmother was watching him. Where she was sitting, she had a view straight into the utility room. When he noticed her, he took that half empty whiskey bottle he had in his hand, motioned with it and said to her, “I’m never taking another drink again.” He then put the bottle down deep in the hamper.
He never took another drink.
Life changed incredibly in our home. He was not a Christian yet and did not give anyone, including himself, credit for his abstinence. In fact, we rarely discussed it in our home. For someone to have drank that much everyday for as long as he had, at least two decades, to just stop was unheard of.
He had tried AA when I was very young. It didn’t work, and he didn’t stop. He only tried it because my mom threatened divorce. He slept in his pickup on the other side of our farm for an entire week while she decided what she wanted to do. Then suddenly they were back together.
So, we were all a little skeptical when he made the grand declaration that he was done. But I always knew in my heart that it had been an answer to my prayer for God to make him stop. He never ever got drunk again. In fact, he never ever drank again.
My parents were party parents. They went and ‘honky-tonked’ every Saturday night. Their lives changed. That lifestyle was no longer fun without the booze. A few years later my father said that he had tried to go and when they would walk into the bar, the smell of the liquor would make him sick to his stomach. So they quit going.
My father was a new man. He worked harder and found opportunities to make more money. The fighting stopped and our home life was wonderful for the first time. And, he was happy, genuinely happy and so was my mother.
This miracle was just a precursor to several more miracles I saw in my father’s life. But this miracle changed so much about me and my life, and made it possible for more miracles to come.
If you are dealing with this kind of difficult situation please know there is hope.
I want to encourage you to leave me any comments below. They are so encouraging and motivating to me.
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