Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 04:58:23 -0500
From: "Rev. Random the Other"
Organization: Gription Clench
A friend of mine, fortysomething, is an alcohol researcher at one of
the major universities here, the head of the department. Over the
years she's told the same story, that her father was an alcoholic
who died of drinking when she was a young child. Many times I've
heard her ask the rhetorical questions: How could someone drink
himself to death? WHY would someone drink himself to death?
She decided to study alcoholism at a young age to learn the
answers. Quite obviously her father's death was the major influence
on her career decision, and probably the driving force behind her
This christmas she decided to take a vacation, packed up the
husband and kid, and drove to Florida to do the Disney thing. While
in town, she decided to visit her fathers sister, whom she hadn't
seen in thirty years. They had a wonderful visit, spending two
nights, talking, swimming and just relaxing. On the third day,
hours before leaving, the discussion turned somber and she related
how growing up without a father had been tough, how she had never
been able to reconcile her father's choice to drink himself to
death with his responsibilities to his family, having a family of
her own now, and how she just couldn't understand it.
The sister asked her what she meant, then listened closely as she
related how she became an alcohol researcher to try to understand
how alcohol could ruin a person so totally, what the physical and
mental mechanisms were, and how it could be treated or prevented.
Then her father's sister told her a thing. "My brother wasn't an
alcoholic. Oh, sure, he drank a beer now and then, but only like
this much (holding her fingers about three inches apart) and not,
you know, THIS much (holding her hands two feet apart). I've
never seen him, you know, drunk. I don't believe he ever got like
that. He died of a heart attack. It was his third. He died the day
your momma took you and left him. You were just a little thing.
Your momma just hated drinking, any drinking. It just didn't settle
with her at all. But it sure wasn't drinking that killed him; he
had a bad heart."
She had the death certificate, showed it to her.
It's a new year, and she's back at work. She guesses that she will
continue with what she has always done. She has some re-evaluating
to do. I can sense the weight of the CONspiracy as it bears down on
my friend. I mention that she is perhaps more free to choose
another path, but she shakes her head, still trying to sort it all
out. And I am quite sure that my own earliest and most
closely held beliefs are no more firmly grounded.
Everything you know is wrong. I believe this a lot just now.
Rev. Random the Other