- Posted December 27, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
The door marked nevermore
My dear mother used to keep our apartment perfectly arranged and very, very clean. This was a part of her rather compulsive nature. When I was a very young child at home, I followed and watched my constantly-working mother as she silently performed her self-inflicted repentance. As the only child alone with my mother before I started K4, I silently watched her and everything around me. Needless to say, I was a complete mama’s boy.
Even though I did not speak until I was 3, I was a watcher of details. Maybe my memories are vivid images now since what I watched then was not so encumbered by and filtered through internal and external words. I still see and relive in detail too many memories, like replayed movies on my internal screen.
Until I was 11, my housewife-mother and brewery working-father and older sister and I routinely ate meals at the kitchen or dining room table. We watched TV together in the evenings. My parents frequently took my older sister and me to practice good table manners at fine restaurants. We visited, or were visited by, relatives during holidays. We went on vacations and to parks and to movies and much more. We were routine occupants of the outfield bleachers when we cheered the Milwaukee Braves during the 1950s…when we cheered as a family of 4.
On one occasion when I was 11, I very clearly remember one very hot day at the Braves Stadium. I was a little surprised on that day when my father returned to the bleachers, after leaving briefly, holding 2 cups of beer. I saw my mother look at him quizzically as he coaxingly nudged the cup toward her. I never before saw either of them drink any kind of alcohol. It turns out that before the 1 cup of beer, they steadfastly remained sober for about 15 years.
My mother and father had both tried, for many years, to soberly and steadfastly repent for and return from their past shortcomings and failures of a very deep alcoholism. They sincerely tried to reclaim their lives from their wasted pasts. They remained sober until I was 11 and my childhood, until then, seemed almost idyllic. Until then…when a sudden, enormous, body-slam let-down awaited this mama’s boy.
So when I was 11, my parents both began to drink alcohol occasionally, but over a few months their shortcomings and past failures returned and resumed. They soon lost control of “social drinking” and were dead-drunk for days. The previously arranged and clean apartment we lived in was routinely cluttered and dirty. Family meals and outings and Braves games and evening TV together and vacations ended. Our family of 4 became 4 people alone who spent our times in different rooms except, that is, for brief holiday displays of kinship.
During my teens, it was sadly fortunate that my parents’ binges could only last about 3 or 4 months at a time, until especially my dear mother would, time and again, truly reach death’s door.
I relive in detail one of several similar occasions, this one when I was about 16, sitting silently on the edge of my mother’s bed as her body involuntarily convulsed in withdrawals. Her clothed body was white and cold and she profusely sweated. Her hand was very cold and clammy as she gripped my hand very hard. Her legs and arms and hands trembled and convulsed as I sat numb, watching in detail, holding her hand, silently waiting. Then the doorbell chimed and the family doctor arrived, as he did before and would again. He sedated my mother and had her again admitted in-patient. He took me aside and again asked me kindly, “Are you doing o.k.?” I replied only, “Yes” and was silent again.
My mother and father did stop drinking alcohol many times, but seemed to only endure 6 months or so of sobriety and healing before they resumed drinking. My parents tried to stop drinking many times and resumed many times and could never stop “this time once and for all.”
For about 12 years during my teens and early adulthood, I witnessed extreme, clinically compulsive urges for alcohol, especially experienced by my dear mother.
It still confounds me how my mother, a very intelligent woman, could experience failures of a very deep alcoholism, then recover to sobriety for 15 years to reclaim her life from her wasted past, then relapse…not “once and for all,” but many times? My mother was 5’ 7” and weighed about 120 lbs., but a month after she would relapse and dare take an “occasional social drink,” she would be drinking more than a quart of scotch a day.
I try not to bitterly think and say that my mother and father both should have known better than to try to return to “the days of wine and roses.”
I try not to linger that my mother and father both should have known that the door was marked “nevermore” for a very good reason.
I try not to so clearly remember in detail one very hot day at the Braves Stadium when I was 11 and he coaxingly nudged the cup toward her.