My parent’s divorced when I was three years old. My mom and I went our separate way into a new house. At the time, I was oblivious as to why my dad was not there when I woke up or when I fell asleep. All I knew was that he promised to see me every other weekend to spend the 48 hours the court gave me. Friday nights would come and go; I would have my bags packed and peek out the bay window waiting for the sight of my dad’s old Ford truck. Eight o’clock was the time he was supposed to be in the driveway. A quarter after eight would roll around and still no dad; sometimes he wouldn’t show up and other times he would be hours late. When he did manage to show up, his breath would reek of alcohol and he was in a bad mood. Over the years I began to realize that my dad was an alcoholic.
Years went by and the sudden excitement I once had when my dad’s weekend would come around drastically faded. I would tell my mom I didn’t want to go and that I was always bored when I went to his house. She insisted that I go, and that she didn’t want to hear him complain about not having the opportunity to spend time with me. What she didn’t know was that he was never around once he picked me up for the weekend. I would either get dropped off at the neighbor’s house for the night or his mom’s house.
My dad’s drinking occurred was sunrise to sunset. There were good days and bad days. My mom knew of his drinking problems, but she never knew how bad it was. I believe she always tried to believe that he didn’t booze himself up around me. I never complained about how he was intoxicated because the seriousness of it never dawned on. Eventually fun with me dad ended and it seemed every time I was at his house I was instructed to wash dishes that I didn’t dirty and sweep rooms I had never played in. I was rarely allowed to go outside and play with the neighbor kids. My dad would complain that I never spend time with him. Quality time with my dad meant sitting in front of the television watching wrestling, and him drinking his beer.
I spent three of my birthdays with my dad, none of them in which I received a present from him. There were no parties thrown for me, beside those that would happen in the garage with his friends, while I was inside watching Cartoon Network. My dad didn’t have much money, so I took food from my moms without her knowing. I always wondered how he had money for the alcohol, though. One day I came home from school to hear my mom screaming on the phone to the bank. She didn’t tell me what she was yelling about, but later that day, we went to my grandmother’s house. I was in the other room playing with my Barbie’s when I heard her say, “He has totally wiped out the entire account we had money for college in!” Now I know where the money for the booze came from.
I remember going to my friend’s houses after school to hang out when I was younger, seeing both of their parents around the house and wondering what it was like to have both a mom and dad around. A few times my dad would stop at Kroger to pick up flowers and we would take them up to the porch when I would arrive back at my mom’s house. My mom would open the door, see the flowers yank me into the house, automatically be in a bad mood. She would never bad mouth my dad in front of me but I knew she hated the person he had become.
I spent my last weekend with my dad when I was eight years old. He was intoxicated for most of it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t recall it. His friends were over and I had grown tired of spending my days inside watching Cartoon Network or the Disney Channel. I remember coming outside and asking to go play with the kids across the street. Instantly I was told I wasn’t allowed and that I should go back inside before I get myself into trouble. He had officially picked at my last straw; I kicked him in the shin and began to throw a tantrum. My dad was belligerently drunk and to him I was picking a fight with the ‘Big Dog’. The outcome was Children Services getting involved. I was given the option to visit my dad. I was terrified to be in his presence, and was afraid if I was ever alone with him again, the outcome could be worse.
Since that day I have not spent time with my dad; he stopped his ritual of calling every year on my birthday, after I turned 16. There wasn’t even a call this year for my 18th birthday. He was probably at the bar celebrating, because that means no more child support. My brother and sister still fill me in every now and again on his latest disasters. It’s been 10 years without my dad, and I’m getting by just fine. I believe I made the right decision; I believe alcohol can bring out the worst in someone. I believe alcohol in my dad’s life, stole a good portion of my childhood.