The Family Curse

I’ve been hearing more about my church’s opinion about Heaven and Hell and Purgatory. I believe we humans make our own hell here on Earth. The trials and tribulations with which we bestow ourselves would destroy anyone. We suffer by our own doing and we think we are alone with our problems; there is no way out and so we numb ourselves. How strong of a person does one have to be, to push on through the pain and be free?

My family, the “Adams family,” has a curse hanging over it. My father’s father was a very mean drunk and would abuse my grandmother. My father and his brothers had to deal with this as young boys. My grandfather passed before I was five years of age; I don’t remember him. Somehow the sins of the father became the sins of the sons.

My father’s brothers also struggled with drink. One of my uncles fell asleep, drunk and smoking in bed, almost burning down our new house He perished from the smoke. Another uncle was drunk every time we saw him. He always had a beer open, always made his family’s life painful. He killed himself.

Yet another uncle, returning from the war, lived on the streets. We never saw him much. He was always drunk or in jail drying out, or at the VA hospital recuperating. He visited us when I was eleven or twelve. He was drunk and loud, and I had a knife in my pocket and I was prepared to use it if I had to. My father was bedridden and in a hospital with multiple sclerosis. My grandmother was embarrassed and my mother, though a strong woman, was shaken by the encounter. Ironically, a few months later Grandma would die in the hospital at 12:05 am in the morning. My uncle died at 12:10 am that same morning. I am sure my grandma took him with her.

My father somehow managed the Adams Family Curse. He drank, but only at occasions with friends and in controlled environments. I think, since he was the oldest of the brothers, he had felt a strong responsibility to protect his mother and his brothers.

As a child, I asked my father if I could taste his drink. He drank martinis, and they do not taste good the first time. My palate of chocolate milk and the occasional soft drink could not accept the taste of this concoction. Later on, my high school friends would force themselves to like beer and then vomit.

I would have nothing to do with alcohol in my life. Genetic predispositions can skip a generation, but renew themselves in a newer, younger generation. I have had friends of years past take up the bottle in their daily life and have watched them lose everything, including their children, their relationships, and their careers.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

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