“Courage is what love looks like when it is tested by the sometimes overwhelming and everyday necessities of being alive.” David Whyte
I remember one day going to my parents house for a visit. It was not long after Tom and I had bought our first…well, only home. My mother’s best friend had recently died and I would guess my mom was probably about the age I am now, actually.
She had been in Oregon where Lynn lived, she’d been with her when she died. They had been friends since they were children, they had been sisters. Travelled together, raised their kids together….whatever.
And now Lynn had died and my mother was lost. My parents relationship was never, as far as I could remember, much good. She and Lynn had that in common too. And my dad had been having some health issues which kept him from working so he basically just hung around the house, bugging her. She was lonely and isolated.
And I was sitting with her and she said, clear as a bell, “I give up”.
And over the next few years she did exactly that. It was frustrating, infuriating actually, to see. She stopped reading, lost interest in going out and doing things. She was always overweight; food didn’t even interest her, she got thinner and thinner. It’s like she willed herself away. And it didn’t end well, how could it? She ended up in a nursing home the last few years of her life. I would sit beside her and just wish I could kill her, because I was so sure she wouldn’t want this life she had. She’d always been the fun mom, the life of the party, racy, raunchy, drunk… Before she went into the nursing home my father’s health had deteriorated a lot too and we had caretakers come to the house to be with them, light cooking, etc. And she inched further and further away and my dad would stare at her and yell at her and be so angry and frustrated and it was awful to watch. But I got it….the whole thing was awful to watch.
She had called it, I think, that day when she told me “I give up”. And all my thoughts of putting her out of her misery were maybe wasted because by that time she had retreated so far into herself, into her own little world, that she probably had no idea of the indignities foisted on her daily, by both the reckless staff and her own children who couldn’t watch it, be present for her.
She gave up. She isolated . She quit on life.
Here’s another thing she did.
She’d give up alcohol every Lent. Believe me, it was a hard forty days on all of us. BUT! She did have one day off, a special dispensation on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, because she was Irish and, as you well know, god would understand that she had to drink that day.
It was funny; I actually remember that fondly.
I am half Irish and very grateful I did not have to either give up drinking for Lent or take a special day off on the 17th. No Molly Malone’s for me, though in other incarnations of myself over the years I would certainly find myself “enjoying” A Guiness. Only 1, because I have never liked beer, followed by shot after shot of Irish whisky, which I did find very enjoyable.
One night I went home with an Irish guy I met at Molly Malone’s. It might not have been St. Patrick’s day, but that’s quibbling. He had a great accent but was way too drunk to get anything going back at his place so we necked for a while and I drove home, likely still very drunk.
Not this year. Not for a lot of years; I mean, I was married, had a kid, I haven’t fucked (or tried to fuck ) an Irishman in a long while.
But not for the last 6 years for sure.
Today, March 21, I am 6 years sober. That feels good. It takes courage.
My mom actually gave up drinking herself, just around the time she “gave up”. I think nothing worked for her anymore. There’d be some wine in the refrigerator at their house, but the same bottle for weeks, so who knows. She wasn’t very courageous, I guess.
Anyway, this is my sober post for the year. The 6th year. On to 7