A fathers legacy

 

Luke 21:34 (NIV) ” Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap

                My birthday went smoothly; we had a jumper for the small kids while the adults talked among themselves. My biological father came; even though there were people that didn’t necessarily want to see him.  When we, my older sister Kimberly and brother Michael were    younger he would take us for the weekend or a week or so and we almost always would have a fun time. Then we grew up and realized just how irresponsible and immature he was, God definitely went with us on those days. He would do some pretty crazy things but the worst thing is how often he would drive drunk.   I really don’t know how often he would drive drunk with us but I am sure it happened and I, for a fact know it happened with me once. We were in Glamis, a place he loved to take us, now I know why and his drink of choice was diet Rite and Rum; one night someone a few camps over from us decided that they wanted the biggest campfire so they lit an entire bush on fire; a lot of the bushes in Glamis are large to huge so it lit up the whole area. I think I was around ten or so and I wanted to get a closer look so my dad hops on an A.T.C and tells me to get on the back so I did.  He then says something like “wanna see something cool?” umm…okay; then he start popping wheelies.    That scared me to death, I was yelling for him to stop while pinching his stomach as hard as I could and all he did was laugh. He did about three wheelies and drove with the front end of the bike off the ground for several seconds at a time but when you are scared out of your mind it seem like a long time.  I talked him into letting me get off and I just walked back to camp. The excitement of seeing that stupid bush on fire had gone away.  That was just one of the many foolish things he did but most of them didn’t involve me.

All my life alcohol has played some kind of role. James, my biological father drank every day, I used to think it was funny when I was young I would just laugh at what an idiot he would become. Alcohol takes control of your mind and makes you do things you would never do if you were of sound mind, like pick up a burning log, with bare hands in order to reposition it in the campfire.

The hardest thing for me is, I still have people in my life that drink and drive.  It really hurts, these people see me, not every day but they know how hard my life has become and yet they still choose to drink and drive. If you don’t have the integrity or the strength of mind to not drink without getting drunk then you shouldn’t be drinking at all and please, please, please whatever you do don’t get behind the wheel or on anything that requires a lucid person to operate!  Too many people are seriously injured or killed by this foolish, senseless, irresponsible act; it changes most of the lives around you and it’s not the legacy anyone should want to leave behind or be remembered by.

When my dad, James, would come to see me at the hospital when I was in my coma,  my parents said he would always come smelling of alcohol. It was so hard for the family knowing that their daughter, sister, niece, aunt and granddaughter was put in this position because someone was driving drunk and here this man, her father, had the gall to show up intoxicated.  Before I was injured he didn’t really want to see  me; I don’t know how many times he stood me up, in fact I had a Christmas and a birthday present in my car for him when I was hit. I kept them with me just in case. Of course my mom and dad never knew about these antics James would pull while we were with him.

James left my mom when I was just three years old and my mom remarried a man who’s my real dad, we may not share genetics but he raised me and my siblings without hesitation; he stood up and became the dad James wasn’t willing to be at first and then couldn’t be as we grew and the addiction took over and controlled his life. Sometime, shortly after my party he left California and moved to Colorado, leaving all his kids behind including a young son and we didn’t hear from him again until the summer of 2009.  It was June 16th when we got a phone call telling us James is dyeing and they don’t expect him to make it through the night. So we scrambled to make flight arrangements and hotel accommodations. We took a redeye flight, there was   a layover in Las Vegas When we got to Denver one of our aunts picked us up from the airport, we couldn’t catch a cab because of my wheelchair and we got to the hospital. When he heard that we were coming that lifted his spirits and his vital signs showed a slight improvement.

When they found him, he was unconscious in his car in a parking lot of a local liquor store. When the paramedics checked his alcohol levels he had no alcohol in his system, the doctors said he hadn’t been drinking in days. No one knows why, maybe he couldn’t afford it any more or he just wasn’t feeling good. His kidneys and liver had shut down from the years of drinking, when we saw him his legs were swollen from all of the fluid that his kidneys and liver could no longer process and he looked jaundice.

James and the kids300

He really missed out by not being involved in his kids’ lives. My sister has three wonderful children including twin girls with so much personality and her son is super smart and my brother’s kids are kind, polite and respectful and are becoming wonderful young adults

We had never been to Colorado, so we took advantage of the short time we had and saw family that we hadn’t seen since we were kids and met cousins we had never met. It was good to visit with our family even though the circumstances were terrible. We could only stay for a couple days but in that short amount of time I saw just how much his lies and empty promises affected his brothers and sisters, he had isolated himself from everyone who loved him and hurt the people who still cared the most. After we went home the hospital moved him to a hospice facility, he had no insurance and his debt continued to climb. James died on June 20th, two weeks before his fifty fifth birthday.  They classify alcoholism as a disease, I don’t know if I fully buy into that I just know, alcohol can injure and destroy people’s lives and always affects those around you and devastates the ones you love.

It is so sad that throughout my life I have seen the affects that alcohol has had in people’s lives and though, I may not have always understood it, I never chose it to be a part of my life. Ironically, it has become the story of my life but it will not be the legacy I leave.

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3 thoughts on “A fathers legacy

  1. Dianne Young

    Jenn,
    You continually inspire me with your strength, insight and wisdom. What a gift you are to all of us.

    Reply
  2. Bonnie

    you are an amazing spokesperson for people against drinking and driving
    sadly alcoholism is a disease affecting people with addictive personality genes mostly
    and because it is also an emotional disease, it requires not only medical help by physological
    even so, if they do not have the notion to help themselves, then certainly take the responsibility to NOT DRIVE. so they do not injure others
    hugs to you

    Reply

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