Today I visited my dad. Well, I visited his grave. It was difficult to find in the snow. I am not sure when was the last time I went to the cemetery. Maybe 2011? He died ten years ago from cancer.
My dad was a drunk. But he never drank at home. He would go to a bar after work. Then he would stumble in later that night and pass out in his bed. Sometimes he would come home early if my mom asked him to pick up some Chinese dinner from the place next to the bar. On the weekends he would be home watching television or mowing the lawn, but never drinking booze.
I was never close to my father growing up. We actually preferred when he was at the bar. On weekends or the nights he came home early and sober, he would yell at us to keep quiet. We couldn’t talk loud or laugh loud. He would ask if we finished our homework and if we said yes, he would tell us to go to bed. Even as early at 6pm. We grew up with that joke but it still felt like a threat. When he was home watching TV, it meant we could not watch our shows. James Gardner and “Rockford Files” will always remind me of my dad preventing me from watching cartoons.
I knew my dad had many DUIs. It never stopped him from driving to work or to the bar. Both were within a mile drive from the house. He was in a car accident that put him in intensive care when I was a baby. He almost died but it did not stop him. I remember my mom taking him to his DUI classes once a week the summer I was 9 or 10 years old. I remember once seeing flashing lights outside our front window and witness a cop pulling over my dad’s car across the street. I am not sure when that occurred and my mom is not sure either. When I was 20 and visiting my parent’s house, I answered the phone and my drunk dad asked me to pick him up at the police station. I do not know what number DUI that was. I do not know how many he accrued. I am not sure if he ever had a legal driver license when he died.
My dad and I got closer after my parents’ divorce. I would visit him a few times a year. Neither of us drank alcohol at his house or around each other as adults. He would buy big bottles of Diet Coke for me when I visited. He drank regular Coke. Or we would drink ice tea. I went out for New Years Eve once when visiting him and he warned me not to drive drunk because there were a lot of cops out that night.
We got even closer in the six months before he died. I went with him to all his doctor appointments. He told me about a lot of his regrets and worries. He said he was worried what my siblings would do after he died. He said he was not worry about me but warned me to watch my drinking. I do not know if he felt guilty. I think he was scared.
Mistake # 4- I went out with a friend and got very drunk. He and I got in a fight that night. I spent the rest of the night drinking at home and crying. I was hungover and slightly drunk the next day when my brother appeared at my bedroom door. He was driving my dad and I to one of my dad’s appointments. I sat in between my brother and dad in the front of the pick-up truck. I must have reeked of beer. I kept falling asleep in the doctor’s waiting room. The only thing my dad said was “out late?” I think the appointment was an xray or MRI. It was some diagnostic test because I was glad I did not have to write down any information about my dad’s condition. But my dad was mad. I apologized but was never able to get over feeling guilty.