Sunday, February 27, 2011

Changes, changes, changes

Since the end of last summer, much has changed. I haven't yet decided if I will continue this 'blog consistently, though now that I have lost my job, I have plenty of time. Whether I have the inspiration...I don't know.

My job ended on December 9, but I was sent home on Armistice Day, at half pay for the duration of my contract. Ostensibly this was because of funding, but I think a large part of it was the changed climate of my department, my ill adaptation to those changes, and my coping with an alcoholic husband, which made me appear unreliable. I am not sorry: the job got my appendectomy paid for, as well as F's diabetes diagnosis and treatment, paid for, plus I got Molly, Liza, and Lindsay, Cassie's successors.

Most importantly, the insurance I got at my job paid for F's alcoholism treatment; he completed a stay at Brighton Hospital in November and came home from a sober living house twelve days ago. I am and will forever be grateful to the folks at the Howell Alano Club and the Brighton recovery community.

Because I started this 'blog as a way to provide a source I wish I had had, I'll say it all. I come from a family with alcoholism all down both sides. Both my parents had alcoholic fathers. My mother's father had thirty years of sobriety when he passed away in 1992, but my father's father never really stopped drinking. Every time I stayed up into the wee hours, or was awakened by the thud of my husband's body falling unconscious to the floor, I worked to pick him up, to carry him to bed, to clean up after him, grimly certain of my place in a long line of women who had done so for the drunken.

When F checked in to Brighton, I asked him if he'd mentioned my grandfather's name for the frequent flier discount. My father, twenty years old and newly bereft of his mother in 1970, had driven his father to Brighton and checked him in when it seemed certain that his father would drink himself to death in his grief. At thirty-four, with my husband's parents in attendance, it was harrowing enough to sit in that big waiting room while F was tested and evaluated; I can't imagine what it must have been like for my father, with only his girlfriend, my mother, for support, to take his father there. As I type this, I weep for the boy my father was, for how he must have buried his own grief to care for his father.

Looking back on my parents' relationship, how my father cleaved to my mother and resented any separation, I think I understand why. A terrifying brain surgery in 1978 threatened to separate us all, but he survived to take his M.Ed from the University of Michigan in 1979, to a thunderous standing ovation.

But my father died young, like his mother. I miss him. I wish that I could speak with him about losing my job. He lost many jobs, even the day before he married my mother.

"What did you do?" I asked him when he told me, just a few months before he died.
"I got up, I married your mom, and we went on our honeymoon. I knew something would turn up," he said.

Mom and Dad saw us through the recession of the early 1980s. We didn't go to Disneyworld, but there was always enough to eat, and new bikes at Christmas, and trips up north to the cabin our parents had built atop the moraine marking the furthest extent of the glacier that carved Lake Huron.

So now, as I sip a Simpler Times beer bought with my unemployment check, I remember my father and how carefully he and my mother hid hard financial realities from us. I am grateful that my mother has found a wonderful, kind man with whom to share her life, but I still miss my Daddy.

Within the next few months, we will leave our little apartment in Michigan's premiere college town for a Victorian house in Wisconsin: harp, guitar, kitties, and all. All I have is what is within me: the certainty that there is no certainty.

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