I shit you not, my grandfather died from heart failure while driving a scooter, drunk. As a young girl, I can remember becoming progressively more aware of his alcoholism. How I used to feel like he was a traitor when I would notice his truck at the liquor store at the end of the street. Then he lost his driver’s license.
He was grouchy most of the time, I do not think he liked kids very much; yet, he had four. I believe there ended up being eleven grandchildren in all. If he was in a good mood, it was because he was drunk. The main walkway through the house penetrated the space between him and the television. He would ROAR like a lion when we walked through that path. He put boogers under the armrest of his recliner. All eleven of us would go look at them and laugh. We were scared to walk to the bathroom. Dried boogers are gross.
He was a very hard worker and provided well for his family. He was a typical southern man from that generation. He was the boss and it took an enormous amount of bravery to even ask him a question. His house, his rules. He was the boss.
He died from heart failure because he was the boss, very slow suicide, unbeknownst to him. Every day my grandmother waited on him, as a waitress does in restaurants today. He liked his food fried, so that is what my grandmother fed him. Humans are not designed for fried everything. With clogged arteries, he had major heart problems for the last twenty years of his life. He was able to kick the habit of smoking, but he could not put
His father died from alcoholism, I reckon he didn’t know any better.
They say there are two major struggles people have in life. Either repeating the trauma of their past or suffering through the grit of forging a new path.
My grandmother was the only person in my young life helping me cultivate who I am with tenderness and patience. She was not an alcoholic. She liked to sing and dance. We lost her sweet soul last year which is the only reason I can now tell this story. How she was able to impart so much strength in me, living the oppressive life she did, is truly a wonder. I use her life as a guidepost to remember how far women have come in my lifetime.
My grandfather’s daughter is an alcoholic. I will not let her buy a scooter.
I am forging a new path.