Dad would drink wine every single night but I didn’t think anything of it. Him and mum had a rocky marriage and separated when I was 9 years old. I found it so hard – I was such a daddy’s girl and him leaving was the hardest thing I’d ever been through – until a month ago when he passed away of acute pancreatitis.
I found out dad was an alcoholic when I was about 14 years old. I tried to talk to him about it when I would go to stay with him but he wouldn’t listen. He truly didn’t believe he was an alcoholic – it was his denial which finally killed him. He just drank and drank.
When he lost his job a few months before his death he would just sit at home and drink all day. When he died I didn’t know whether to cry or to be angry. I felt so guilty because in a way I had given up on him. He wasn’t listening to me or anyone else, I’m an adult now, and as far as I saw it I had my own life to lead. I tried so hard with him before but I was just banging my head against a brick wall – he didn’t want to know.
The last time I spoke to him on the phone, I’d been back at uni for the new term for a few weeks. He’s asked me to call him to let him know how I was so I did. He didn’t even know who I was. That’s what the drink did to him. He wasn’t my dad anymore – he was just a shell.
I remember the day I was told. I was going home for the weekend to see my mum and step dad. When I spoke to mum on the phone to let her know I was setting off home, I could tell there was something bothering her. When I got in, I was ushered into the lounge where mum was – I could tell she had been crying – nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to be told.
It was so uncanny; George Best’s funeral was on the television in the background when mum told me dad had been found dead. He was found by the police at 4.30 on Friday morning. Mum didn’t want to tell me on the phone so waited till I got home. I thought it was all a joke – I didn’t believe it till I went to him in the morgue at the hospital. I know it sounds horrific – but my dad was a joker and I really thought this was another one of his pranks. But he wasn’t – it was him – he was gone forever and I never got to say goodbye. I can’t remember the last time I told him. I loved him. I had got so annoyed with him as I got older that I just gave up on maintaining a relationship with him. I was so angry with him for leaving me and my sister – he was going to miss everything – our graduations, our weddings, his grandchildren.
The point I want to make is that I don’t blame my dad anymore – he was ill – alcoholism is an illness. I strongly believe it needs to be talked about more – it’s too much of a taboo subject in today’s society and that’s half the problem.
I used to be embarrassed about my dad being an alcoholic – I wouldn’t ever tell my friends. But now I know it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Alcoholics need support – not belittlement. I only wish I knew this before – then maybe my dad would still be alive now. However, we can’t blame ourselves – what I intend to do is to ensure that my dad lives on through me – I won’t ever let him be forgotten.