Monday, March 05, 2007

Waiting by the window again, but for the last time

My father was discharged from the Army not long after he was drafted. This was many years ago. He received a medical discharge because he had an ulcer. I guess that was a viable reason for discharge at that time. I don’t know. My mother said he was discharged because he got drunk and that aggravated the ulcer. Who knows or cares what the true reason might have been? I don’t.

Because of this medical discharge my father was to receive a monthly check from the government for the rest of his life. I can’t remember how much the check was for, but I sure do remember many months sitting by the window and watching for the mailman to deliver it to our house. It came on approximately the same day of the month each time.

As I have told you in the past, my father was a chronic alcoholic who would start drinking and stay drunk for a week or more at a time. There were times during these episodes when he was basically an invalid unable do much more than lay in bed and demand more liquor at the top of his lungs. It was an awful site and situation.

After one of these episodes ended, another of his jobs would be lost and again we would have to move to another house. No salary means a lot of things, including no payment of rent or utilities.

Due to the drinking and all that went with it, we were more often poor than not. That’s where the government check came into such anticipated play. Many, many months due to the expenditures for alcohol, we had no money. The arrival of that check would mean some groceries for our table. The excitement of receiving “daddy’s government check” will forever remain in my mind.

Today I am awaiting the FedEx delivery truck. I am looking out my window and watching for its arrival. That truck will be bringing me another check. It’s not “daddy’s government check”. I’m not poor or broke. We have plenty of food for our table.

This check results from the sale of the home my family last lived in together and the only home we ever actually owned. The check is my portion of the proceeds from the sale. The sale of the home has no sentimental effect on me. I have too many bad memories of that place to pine for it. My father’s continued drinking and his continued abuse may haunt that place. My mother’s neglect and abuse and the results from her enabling my father’s drinking may haunt it too. No, I don’t care that the house was sold. For all means and purposes this sale ends any legal attachment I have to the rest of my family.

Today I wait for another check. It’s not “daddy’s government check” but it is the last check that connects me in any way to my dead father or the rest of my family. This will be the last time I will sit by my window and watch for anything that reminds me of my childhood. It’s finally over!


Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Having been unemployed in the past, I know the feeling of waiting for the check. Now I get my paycheck mailed to me.
It's good that you are selling the house, a lot of people would hang on to those bad memories, and use it a an excuse to wallow in self-pity, but you have moved on. And change is a good thing. Do something fun with that money.

March 05, 2007 3:15 AM  
Blogger Coffee Messiah said...

Strange how many of us grew up, and how some of us moved past the conditioning of our parents.
My family still doesn't understand how I am able to let go of things, be it physical or mental, and not feel tied to them.
Good for you, and the sadness of your youth comes through in the post.
Glad it's somewhat over for you!

March 05, 2007 3:39 AM  
Blogger Felinemom said...

We can not chose our families. Everything that happens in our lives make us the people we are today. A childhood like yours could make a person follow in the same path, but you chose a better road and that has made you the wonderful person you are today. May peace and happiness fill all your days.

March 05, 2007 4:23 AM  
Blogger fallenmonk said...

It is nice that you can see this final check as a symbol of leaving all of the bad stuff from your childhood behind. Glad that you have turned your back on those experiences and instead become the person you are.

March 05, 2007 4:37 AM  
Blogger Sue Woo said...

Wow, PoP, that is very powerful.You have clearly grown from those experiences.

March 05, 2007 4:56 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Your writing is very expressive. I raise a glass to closure and moving on.

March 05, 2007 5:16 AM  
Anonymous Knox Rover said...

Wow, PoP...that's quite a story. I'm glad the bad associations with your family are coming to an end. May all future deliveries you receive be free of ghosts full of joy!

March 05, 2007 5:25 AM  
Anonymous Glenda said...

kudos to you for breaking the pattern of abuse.

March 05, 2007 5:58 AM  
Blogger niCk (Mem Beth) said...

Having an alcoholic mother, I can somehow relate, but not really. Each of our stories are different.

There is power in breaking the cycle of abuse.

March 05, 2007 6:49 AM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

Being the child of parents who both had alcoholic fathers, I can say teh effects last far longer than one generation. Traumatized teetotalers also have a hard time acting normal.

Congrats for not falling into that trap.

March 05, 2007 7:04 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

A great symbolic closure, PoP. I'm glad you can let go, and move on from that very tough beginning.

Your story reminds me that my father also received a monthly check from the government. He had a life-long injury sustained during the Battle of the Bulge. His disability check was a reminder every month that the country appreciated what it personally cost him to fight that war. If he were alive today, he would horrified by what's happening at Walter Reed.

March 05, 2007 8:09 AM  
Blogger annie said...

sad story. there are too many of those in our collective childhoods.
i agree with coffee messiah-use that money for something fun and positive.
and have a good week.

March 05, 2007 8:36 AM  
Blogger Rain said...

A powerful post! I can relate to your post because both of my folks were alcoholics.

Sweet release and a peaceful ending!

March 05, 2007 9:26 AM  
Blogger Chancelucky said...

POP, Such a sad story. Such a lovely post. Thanks for the glimpse.

March 05, 2007 9:38 AM  
Blogger Dr. Know said...

Having been a childhood victim of not only my own parents alcoholism and dysfunction, but a subsequent female companions family as well in my 20s, I salute your fortitude in moving on. It is not an easy thing to recover from. Trauma indeed. I eventually had to turn my back to the lot of them in order to improve my own existance. Good Luck!
(P.S. Fred the Cat is great. I've had several Fred the Fish, and a Sam the Cat that looks just like Fred. I have lots of (too many?) pets...)

March 05, 2007 9:52 AM  
Blogger isabelita said...

It's appalling how many horror stories there were and still are arising from the so-called norm of the "nuclear family." It is good to make something positive from your personal experience. What else can we do? I've seen how fixing blame on one or both parents
embitters people for a long time.
I wish you relief from any residual ills.

March 05, 2007 11:11 AM  
Blogger Donnie McDaniel said...

Glad to see that you are getting some closure POP!

March 05, 2007 11:12 AM  
Blogger TheCultureGhost said...

Thank you for the wonderful observations about the past and present and how it is possible to remember the past without having it direct and control the present.

Quite frightening to read in the comments all the shared experiences of alcoholic parents and/or grandparents. As a recovering alcoholic (16 years), I sometimes become complacent about my sobriety or disappointed with some elements in my life. But then I bring myself around to today and recognize that I am not creating damage, harming others, or wrecking lives by being drunk. Sure, a lot days aren't exactly what I want them to be, but most nights I can go to sleep knowing I haven't harmed the world and that is comforting.

March 05, 2007 11:15 AM  
Blogger Frederick said...

I second Robin, I'm glad you're getting some closure.

March 05, 2007 11:46 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

No words come, PoP. {{hug}}

March 05, 2007 2:31 PM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

Powerful post, PoP. I'm wondering how that money will go on to do some good for you, your husband and all your sweet pets. I like that idea. Good coming out of bad times.

March 05, 2007 3:14 PM  
Anonymous pekka said...

Your feather knocked me down again!

March 05, 2007 4:09 PM  
Blogger Floridacracker said...

I'm sorry you were cheated out of the magic of childhood and a happy home.

I think I need to go hug my parents and thank them one more time.

This was a powerful read POP. I just feel so sorry for what that little girl missed.
It's not fair.

March 05, 2007 5:11 PM  
Blogger Yoga Korunta said...

Well written, POP. It's good to know that you can close this chapter of your life and that you no longer wait for Daddy's government check.

March 05, 2007 7:22 PM  
Blogger Women on the Verge said...

*hugs* There's great power in realizing that we're not products of our environment, but of the choices we make...


March 05, 2007 8:00 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i was talking with some folks at an AA meeting (and i am also the son of an alcoholic father who died drunk). we were talking about the many creative ways we found to mess up our kids. he knows my young'uns and remarked how well they are all doing. he wanted to know if they had forgiven me.

i told him that i wasn't interested in forgiveness or absolution or trite shit like that. i am after redemption. which for me means not only not acting like the selfish destructive asshole that i was it means taking concrete and practical measures to set thing aright. so far, so good. got me another sober 24 today. we'll see about tomorrow.

March 05, 2007 8:29 PM  
Blogger eProf2 said...

Dear PoP:

I wish I could say back to you your own words of "it's finally over." But, I can't. My dad who died from his alcoholism in a horrible way and almost took his family with him still haunts me in so many ways nearly 45 years later.

Perhaps there are no words to express our fates with alcoholic parents other than the experience may have made our lives different because of the experiences. You have given us, your readers, much to be thankful for in today's post, and much to remember of our own trials.

Be kind to yourself!

March 05, 2007 8:37 PM  
Blogger C-dell said...

I didn't know this I am sorry. I know that, that doesn't mean much. I Don't drink because I know the problems that arise from it. I really do not condone drinking at all. I really am sorry about anything that you had to go through.

March 06, 2007 12:50 AM  
Blogger JM said...

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to organize their emotional baggage as well as you have and emerge a better person for it. And to be able to share these thoughts in a deeply moving essay is special as well. Some of us just shove these things in a closet that only gets opened when we have to.

March 06, 2007 7:38 AM  
Anonymous RJ Adams said...

Alcoholism is something else. It's not called the 'family disease' without reason. I had the misfortune to be married to an alcoholic. I always thought I could 'cure' her. It took five years, and almost my own life, to realize that was not possible. A short story, "Patience Was Her Only Virtue" published on my website, relives the experience. Thankfully, my life didn't end the way it does in that story, but it might have done. I know just how you feel.

March 06, 2007 9:25 AM  
Blogger bluegrrrrl said...

What pekka said...your feather knocked me down too!

I'm a day late on this, but wow...what a powerful post. Closure is good, and so is your amazing attitude. Funny how we seem to gain strength from the most difficult of times. You are an inspiration, Pop!

March 06, 2007 9:29 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Closure is an amazing thing. This post was very touching PoP and makes me doubly aware of the memories I am creating for my kids today.

I agree with others. Do something fun with that money!

March 06, 2007 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Betty Cracker said...

A good writer recognizes the power of symbolism, as you have with this check. May you use it to become even stronger and more at peace. You are amazing.

March 06, 2007 3:58 PM  
Blogger Karen McL said...

Oh my goodness. We all have different paths we must tread down when growing up and your sounds rockier than most. But to be able to close that chapter and put it behind you - as you've moved SO FAR beyond all those bad memories already. Don't know how much that check will be for...but I am certain it will never cover all that you deserve or are owed for a childhood lost - but glad it will be *over* for you too!


March 06, 2007 5:39 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

That was an amazing post, PoP. Thanks for writing it! It gives me pause to think about a lot of things, such as what is really important in my life and my family's lives.

March 06, 2007 8:32 PM  
Anonymous vicki said...

This was a hard and eloquent read. It makes me sad that for you, letting go of your past means peace of mind and heart. But I'm glad that you feel this is a settling point, a time of closure. It is a tribute to the human spirit and to your personal strength that you have become such a compassionate and caring person. Sometimes, even in the absence of parents, we can learn to parent ourselves with love and kindness.

March 06, 2007 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Darl!
My fathers war trauma turned to 'work-a-holic' rather than alcoholic.
being brought up in an un wholesome environment is always devastating to a child, one way or another.
I'm so pleased you now feel closure in this regard!
Big kisses to you
Zoe xxx

March 07, 2007 12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do something fun with that money."

FWIW, my sentiments exactly.

This was a great post, PoP, and a resonant one with so many of us out here. Congratulations on rising above, moving on, and not foisting embedded pathos onto others in your life. That's a big hurdle that many can't seem to jump, or even SEE for that matter.


March 07, 2007 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some wounds take longer to heal than others.

If I close my eyes tight enough I can hear my dad screaming so loud that I shake.

Once out of the Navy I was no longer afraid of my dad and his tirades. But for the first 18 years of my life living in constant fear took a serious toll on me emotionally.

Look how many friends you have made on the wonderfull WWW!

take care.

March 08, 2007 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Adorable Girlfriend said...

This post means a lot.


March 08, 2007 4:35 PM  
Blogger Granny said...

I've been sober a little over 27 years now; long enough to have raised my two boys without their having memories of the horror of alcoholism haunt them.

Your story is a reminder of what their life and mine could have been like. Thank you for sharing it.

March 12, 2007 6:33 AM  
Blogger Kitt said...

Jesus! POP - that was powerful!

Our stories are similar with the exception that my father wasn't an alcoholic, just a mean, spiteful, violent bastard.

March 21, 2007 11:10 AM  

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