Thursday, December 11, 2008
Christmas Shadows and Winter Showers
Shortly before dinner last Christmas, my Grandmother made her final trip to the ER. She fell into a coma and died a little over a month later. My family, which was never very large or especially close, became even smaller and more divided. After her death, my father no longer had any reason to quit drinking , so he went back to a life of depressed, drunken isolation of his own choosing. My Uncle has almost vanished, he, like my father, didn't return my pre- Thanksgiving calls. My Twin brother and I stay in pretty close contact, though.
A rift has opened between myself and my older relatives. It's been in place for decades, but it widened significantly when I chose to quit drinking. I get the feeling that my dad and uncle are uncomfortable and resentful of me for not drinking; my sobriety pisses them off because it makes them look bad in comparison. I have tried to convince them just how painful, horrible and utterly pathetic a drunkard's death is, but they don't listen.
An aside: One of the women at work asked me if I was related a certain man who shares my last name. Yes, I answered, he is my uncle. She told me that she used to work with him 25 years ago. Then she asked if he still had a drinking problem. I got the impression that she didn't like him much. It was awkward and a bit embarrassing.
My dad finally called the other day. He suggested that we cancel Christmas this year. With Grandmother dead, he said, there's no real reason to gather at the old house-which is probably a burned-out wreck after a year of my father's drunken stewardship, after all.
My Grandma was the glue that held our tiny family together, Thanksgiving and Christmas were her days. My father, to his credit, would manage to stay sober during the holidays, although his younger brother tended to pick up the slack. This year, they will both be drunk and I have no desire to spend any time at all with my besotted relatives. I used to love preparing the big holiday dinners that my Grandma enjoyed so much, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna waste my time and energy cooking for a pair of mean, drunk old men.
My brother will be visiting soon. It'll be good to see him. We only have one surviving relative on our mother's side, her younger brother, but we'll probably spend Christmas Day with him and his wife. I like them. If the weather allows, we might go ATV'ing. We'll find something to do. We might skip Christmas per se but we certainly won't cancel it. If Dad sobers up, I'd be glad to see him. If not, I don't care. He can cancel his own damn Christmas.
I was in rush-hour traffic this morning, moving slowly through a heavy rain, when my driver's side windshield wiper stopped.
I was blind in less than a second, all I could see was the blur of the lights in front of me- I turned on my blinkers and slowed down to a crawl. I had to stick my head out of the window just to change lanes and my glasses got covered in water, I was driving on luck and adrenaline..I was terrified, I could barely tell the difference between a tractor-trailer and an off-ramp but somehow I managed to get off the main road and park safely. The windshield wiper turned out to a simple fix- a loose screw, basically- but by the time I fixed it, I was soaking wet, miserable and totally rattled by my roadway crisis. I think I was in a state of mild shock.
Things sort of went downhill from there.
But I'm not gonna let it cancel Christmas.