Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Estranged and fractured families - the toll of alcoholism

My oldest son is visiting with his grandfather for a few days. The two have not seen each other in some 13 years or so. Why the estrangement? Quite simply stated, my father is an alcoholic and hence has estranged relationships with most of his children and some of his grandchildren.

My son and I have a lengthy conversation last evening where we spoke candidly of my father's imperfections, his growing older and mellower with age - all good things. My father and mother divorced many years ago and my father has since remarried and is very happy with his sweet wife. I was fortunate to meet her and spend time with the two of them last year. It was for all intents and purposes a reunion of sorts and should have been a lovely trip.

Unfortunately, I had not planned on my father drinking a little too much one night and becoming teary and nostalgic, asking the same questions he has asked aloud for years - namely, he wonders why no-one in the family speaks to him.

It is simple - we have all suffered beatings at his hands, one of my sisters was even taken out of the home in adolescence after having been molested repeatedly by my father. It was a tempestuous time and we, that is, the remaining 4 sisters, were mortified when we realized that we would no longer be living with our beloved sister - instead, we were relegated to weekend visitation at Cumberlowe Lodge - a girls' home. Years later, we realized that she had been molested (we did not know this at the time) and for the most part, severed ties with our father.

I have a fair relationship with my father, mostly due to having learned the miracle of forgiveness and having spent many years in therapy. It has been a very long road - no, it is not a done deal, but we are certainly making headway.

I thank God for my oldest son, his vision, wisdom and insight that help me to keep my eyes on the prize and stay focused on what is important in life - thanks Ry - you are an amazing young man.

No comments: