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What’re you gonna do? Send us to Vietnam?

May 3, 2012

The doctor who prescribed Daddy’s medications told him not to drink alcohol. I question whether he needs to become a complete teetotaler or curb his spirit consumption to one or two libations a couple times a week. I understand that some drugs intensify the effect of alcohol beyond manageable means; for example, after mixing half a Yuengling with Xanax one night, I nearly passed out at concert venue The Earl. But I have experienced no problems pairing snobby liquors with my daily SSRI. So I wish Mother would ask the doctor if Daddy can have a beer every few days.

When I met Mother and Daddy at the Acworth Art Fest a few weekends ago, we ate lunch together on the Acworth Square.

“Can I get a Blue Moon?” Daddy inquired after we had slid into our booths.

“No,” Mother said.

“Oh come on, ONE BEER isn’t going to kill him,” I argued.

“The doctor said your daddy can’t have alcohol.”

“But it’s just a beer. Get the beer, Daddy.”

“I might,” he tested the waters.

“I don’t want anything to happen to your daddy,” Mother defended her stance.

“I know. Fine. But ask the doctor if one freaking beer is that big a deal.”

Daddy never has drank heavily around me, but I’ve always associated bottles of wine with dinner guests and laughter over political topics that bored me as a child. He used to hide a jumbo jar of white lightning in the pantry with the wine glasses and bottle openers. In seventh grade my friend dared me to taste it. I nearly threw up from the smell but gulped it anyway, spewing it everywhere once it hit my lips. Then I witnessed and respected Daddy’s prudence and self control; on Thanksgiving, he mixed a dash of the pungent liquid in a mug of Mother’s orange wassail, offering a splash to my uncles as well – enough to add some color to their cheeks.

Mother usually gave Daddy a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream every Christmas and left it in plain sight on the counter. In my early teens I went through a phase of adding it to my sweet tea when no one was looking. Baileys suited my palate more than moonshine.

I guess Daddy curbed his drinking after retiring from the Army and marrying Mother. Off to war on a plane, Daddy and his fellow Rangers took shots of Scotch, not surprisingly getting the stewardess’ attention.

“Excuse me, you can’t have alcohol on this flight,” she said.

“What’re you gonna do? Send us to Vietnam?” Daddy asked. I assume the stewardess left them alone.

One might contend that Daddy shouldn’t be allowed beer because he probably wouldn’t remember it a couple hours later. But I would hate to deprive him of the transient joy of opening a cold Yuengling or Red Stripe or his latest favorite Blue Moon, and savoring the first tingling sip through the last flat warm drop.

I think a lot of people with Alzheimer’s have to live largely¬†in the moment. I’m trying to revel in my time with Daddy now and embrace the present, too. If I sit on the front porch and share a Blue Moon with Daddy, he could forget it a half hour later. But the immediacy of a mutual brew with my dad while we look out over the pasture would bring us both joy as we imbibe. I believe if given the choice, Daddy would rather have the experience than not at all.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Kevin permalink
    May 3, 2012 6:26 pm

    Bobbin – It was so great to see you for a moment yesterday. I hope you enjoy a cold brew with your Dad real soon. He deserves it. I think your closing message here is really beautiful, and a reminder for all of us to focus on the now, especially when we are enjoying a rare moment of quiet or intimacy with any loved one, whether a parent, grandpa, wife or fiance! You have a great spirit; keep it up!

    • May 3, 2012 7:20 pm

      Thank you, dear Kevin! It was awesome seeing you briefly as well. I’ve been trying to do a better job of enjoying the “now” with my loved ones, particularly when I visit my parents – instead of worrying about the workweek ahead. It’s liberating to let go of the trivial details… have a great Polish party, and please come over with your pretty new wife soon.

  2. Alison permalink
    May 11, 2012 4:00 pm

    Insightful reflections, Bobbin, as always. But bailey’s in sweet tea?? I don’t know about that…

    • May 11, 2012 4:02 pm

      At age 13, I pretended it tasted good. Now I know to drink it on ice or in coffee. : )

  3. Timber permalink
    June 15, 2012 4:48 pm

    I attended a support group meeting recently, and your mentioning living in the moment reminded me of it. That was one of the themes of the gathering: when you refuse to live in the moment, life’s problems seems insurmountable.

    Anyway, I also liked this, which they recited at the beginning and the end of the meeting:

    “God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.”

    It’s called the serenity prayer. I feel like I should go to those meetings more often!

  4. June 15, 2012 4:51 pm

    That’s the perfect recitation for your support group. I feel like living in the moment is all we can do. Hopefully many wonderful times with Daddy still are yet to be had… Love you, sister! I’ll call you this weekend.

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