I believe I have mentioned here before that my father has a love of alcohol that goes well beyond "one or two drinks once in a while after work." His drinking was nothing that is going to qualify our family for a Lifetime Network Movie Of The Week. It was generally a very functional, low grade form of alcoholism; a general state existed where a beer seemed to be at hand at home much more often than not when I was growing up, punctuated by the occasional bout of drunk driving (without incident, thank God) or bit of intoxicated stupidity at a party. Still, it came to bother me a lot as I grew older and began to understand what having that beer at hand all the time really meant.
At the same time, I grew to alcoholic beverages myself in my late teens and early 20's. I like them... and not purely for the intoxicating effects -- if getting drunk was the only object, I'd drink a bum wine like Cisco, or cheap gut-buster Vodka like Mohawk and be done with it. No, I have developed a taste for microbrewed beer, good wine, single malt scotch, and top shelf vodka and gin.
This enjoyment of alcohol causes me some amount of tension. It creates something I can enjoy and talk about with my Dad, who is often rather stoic. That my Dad's consumption of alcohol is also something I resented in him for many years creates more than one mixed emotion.
I was rather mindful of all of this last Friday, when I accompanied my Dad for an afternoon of wine tasting at several wineries a few hours away. We hit about seven wineries over the course of the afternoon while my Mom and my Aunt were off checking out the shops in town nearby. As I was driving, I dumped a lot of wine that was poured into tasting glasses to keep a clear head. My father felt no such compunction.
I will say this: the experience reminded me again, in a vivid way, why my Dad leans on alcohol. He's normally a very quiet sort of fellow in many social situations. Alcohol loosens him up... and as I saw on Friday, he can get positively chatty after he's had a few drinks. That's the upside. The downside is that he also doesn't seem to be consciously aware of how much he's had to drink... and when it might be a good time to stop. It's all just "party time" from that first drink onward. He also seems to see alcohol as a way to complete himself... which is completely untrue. If he'd bother to ask those who love him the most, me, my Mom, and my sister, we would say we love him most when he's stone cold sober.
My Dad drinks a lot less since he retired in 1991. Part of that is my Mom putting her foot down and telling him flat out that he can't be around the house all the time with a buzz on. That's been nice. My sister and I have also made our peace with it, as much as we can. As long as it hasn't significantly shortened his life or reduced his quality of life, we're ok. We just want to spend as much time with him as we can... while he sober.
on 2005-10-13 at 1:33 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond