Memory Monday ~ My Family

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

My family started out like any other family, with a husband, a wife, and, eventually, two children.  My brother was born first, followed–almost nine years later–by me. I always wondered why my parents waited so long to have me.

7-30-2011 8;26;31 AM Bruce and Jackie

Mama and Daddy ~ before children (cir. 1944)

In the early days, daddy had a good job, as a salesman, while mama stayed at home and kept the house running.  Daddy loved to fish and hunt, and mama loved to shop.  They had a nice home, filled with nice things. They had a nice car. Life was good for them. However,  somewhere along the way, things began to go terribly wrong.

The disease of alcoholism runs deep in the families of both of my parents, unfortunately.  While neither of my parents drank alcohol during their early years, eventually, both succumbed and began to drink, socially.  My parents’ drinking quickly escalated, and began causing serious problems.

My early years of elementary school were marked by lots of drinking, fighting and family instability.  My brother, who was only in high school, at the time, was often the one who bore the wrath of our parents during their drinking binges. Many times he had to be responsible for my well-being, as well. We had no other family living near us; our closest relatives lived in the next state.  It was a bad family situation, to put it mildly.

8-17-2012 2;58;45 PM39

My big brother and me (cir. 1956)

Long story made short, spring of 1963 was the last time our family would all live together.  My maternal grandparents  were called, by a neighbor, to come and get me (before Family & Children’s Services could remove me from the home).  However, my brother stayed behind [in Florida] along with my parents. He tells me that he stayed with one friend or another, for a while.  At some point, he quit school, and got a job.  In the fall of 1963, my brother asked his [recently graduated] high school sweetheart to marry him, and she said “Yes”. Both were only seventeen, at the time.

Meanwhile, I lived with my grandparents for several months, until my parents eventually lost everything they owned, and decided to come to Georgia, too.  By the time my parents moved to Georgia, I had already begun fourth grade.  My parents also stayed with my grandparents, for a while, but, eventually, daddy got a job, and my parents found a place to live. I went to live with them again, and life started over.  However, our struggles were far from being behind us.

Once a family loses everything, it’s tough starting over.  My parents struggled, financially, for many years, living in rental houses, driving worn out vehicles, living paycheck to paycheck.  We moved four times in two years!  My parents continued struggling with alcoholism.  There would be periods of sobriety, followed by periods of heavy drinking.

Praise the Lord, my parents finally stayed sober from 1966 until 1972, during my formative teenage years!  During those years, we actually lived like a normal family.  It was during those years that I met and married my husband, Ed.

10-13-2011 6;03;10 PM1

My family ~ during ‘the best years’ (cir. 1969)

By the time Ed and I got married, my parents were back on their feet, financially.They were able to purchase a new car, and some new furniture.  A few months after Ed and I were married, they were able to purchase another home of their own.  For the first time, in ten years, they were able to actually call a home ‘theirs’ again!  I’d like to be able to end my story here, and say we all lived happily ever after, but things didn’t happen that way.

Not too long after purchasing their second home, my parents began to dabble with alcohol, once again.  (When I asked them why, they said it was because they were lonely after I married Ed and moved away.)  They started out drinking a beer or two, which eventually escalated back to heavy drinking again.  The pattern of binge drinking, followed by several weeks of sobriety became the pattern of their lives, once again. More times than not, hospitalization was required to get them ‘dried out’ and sober.  During their times of sobriety, my parents were much like other normal, loving parents, then, without warning, they’d start drinking again–and all hell would break loose!

My parents never lost everything again, but they sure came close; but for the grace of God, they surely would have.  Daddy had  insurance on their house mortgage, that stated it would pay off the mortgage, in case of disability.  That’s exactly what happened.

Strangely enough, alcohol wasn’t the culprit which finally destroyed my parents, in the end, prescription abuse was.  During the 80’s, their drinking had ceased, again, but what we didn’t realize, at the time, was the alcohol had been replaced by lots of nerve pills and pain killers.

Toward the end of the 80’s, both of my parents’ health declined suddenly and severely.  Their bodies simply gave out.  By the time the time daddy was sixty-three, he was disabled, and in a nursing home.  Before that, he spent four months in the hospital. Daddy died shortly after his 65th birthday.

At age sixty-two, my mother found herself in a bed, right beside daddy, at the nursing home.  (The two shared a room.)  Mama spent many months in the hospital, too, but much of mama’s hospital time was spent in a psychiatric unit.  She suffered from severe anxiety, as well as manic depression (now known as bipolar disorder).  Mama also suffered a heart attack and a stroke in the years leading up to her death, at age 70.  I had lost both parents by the time my 43rd birthday rolled around.

Praise the Lord, my brother and I both married wonderful people, and have lived good, happy, and prosperous adult lives! My brother and his wife recently celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary!  They weren’t able to have a biological child, but they were blessed to be able to adopt a newborn baby girl shortly after they both turned 30.  They are now the grandparents of three!

Ed and I have been happily married for 42 years.  We were blessed to be able to have three children, a daughter, and two sons.  We are now the grandparents of four precious little ones!

My brother and I sometimes marvel at how blessed we’ve been throughout our adult lives.  We may have gotten off to a rough start in life, but God richly blessed us both with great spouses!  In case you’re wondering…neither of us has any desire to drink alcohol.

**I’m linking my story up for Memory Monday @ Retired-Not-Tired.

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Published in: on November 10, 2014 at 12:08 am  Comments (10)  
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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I had alcoholism in my family as well. I was lucky my mother was the stable one and kept us going. We also have bi-polar in the family – my brother. Both of my parents are still alive although Dad has alzhiemers.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story about your family, Kathy.

  3. We both lost our parents too soon, to serious diseases. Mine both died of cancer, in their 60s. Pain and suffering for all, no matter the name of the disease. You and your brother rose above bad times and have had happy and productive lives. Strength of character and great partners!! Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. Oh, how sad it made me to read your story. I had hopes there in the middle of it that everything would end well and then I was disappointed again. I am sorry that your parents’ lives were too short, but I praise the Lord with you that you and your brother have been blessed with such wonderful spouses and were able to rise above the struggles.

  5. Your story is very close to my heart, as I was married to an alcoholic and had the strength to take my children and walk away from that destructive life. He had no intent on stopping the drinking. My younger daughter is now in AA, and is doing very well in her life now after 4 years of sobriety. She says that she has to attend the meetings or she will convince herself that she could drink in moderation. Her sponsor is a big help. My life is wonderful now, but could have been headed for the same disaster as your parents. Thanks for sharing your very personal story.

  6. your story definitely touched me. many people criticized my mom at the time for making a clean break from my alcoholic father. But thankfully she did, or our lives would have been very similar for sure. I am so thankfully for a mom who had the strength to be on her own: and be right; rather than stay with the wrong man. And my dad never has gotten his life together to my knowledge either. But my life, has been richly blessed.

  7. Wow. That’s quite a story. I wonder if staying with an alcoholic was a good thing or a bad thing from time to time. I was very good at hiding husband’s drinking from the lovelies (mostly because he stayed out while he drank…sometimes for days) but, now that they’re grown up, I stopped trying. And then he stopped drinking. Go figure. Too bad he couldn’t have done that years ago. Anyway, I’m so glad for you and your brother- that y’all have such happy adult lives!

  8. I just can’t imagine. I see kids every day who have horrible home lives. It’s just so sad.

  9. Thank you for sharing your story with all your readers. Alcohol is a sickness and thank God that fact is now being recognized but sadly that doesn’t make it any easier for family members no matter how old they are. Both you and your brother were probably made strong having lived through all those years and were blessed with healthy marriages and loving partners.

  10. Alcoholism is such a terrible thing and so many suffer through it’s effects either as the alcoholic or the innocent victim. Thank you for opening up and sharing your story and for showing that it is possible to break the chain. I am so happy you and your brother moved beyond it and I wish you and your families many more blessed years.


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