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Apr 30, 2015

Don't See It Coming

Nothing really prepares you for your 62-year-old mother showing up bombed out of her mind to your grandparents'---her parents'---64th wedding anniversary dinner. Even if you've seen her drunk like this before, if seldom. Even if you know she's struggled with depression and alcoholism for as long as you've known her. 

My sister, niece, and grand-niece arrived at the supper club shortly after I did. We sat and waited at the bar until my grandparents and my mother walked in. My mother drove the two of them there. Drunk out of her mind. I didn't notice it when they walked in. Then we sat down and she spoke; I might have been half-paying attention at the time. Or the content of what she said was overshadowed by how slurred her language was.

No way, I thought. No way. I know her life has been rougher as of late: she was laid off from her nearly two-decade career just a few years shy of retirement. She got screwed over by a part-time employer in the midst of that. As far as I know, she hasn't had a lot of success finding a partner. 

But when you see that, what I saw last night, it shakes you to your core. I've seen plenty of drunk people in my time, plenty of older people just blasted. But when it's your mother, it's a different thing entirely. And this wasn't a "Hey! Let's party and get drunk." This was the result of a possibly days-long process of self-medicating. 

It's crushing, as a son, to see your parent in such a horrible state. Being raised to believe your parents have their shit together only to discover in your adult life they don't, and possibly never did, is jarring.