DAYS WITH DAD

The day starts as a normal day. Well, the normal I believed at the time. I was young, maybe thirteen, possibly fourteen, somewhere around then, and may have been even younger. So much has happened in my childhood, it’s hard sometimes to get the right time frame. I was heading to the kitchen, dad still asleep. Grandma is sitting at the table. Drinking her morning coffee and smoking her never-ending pack of Marlboro Light 100’s. I sit down, bowl all ready to go with a spoon. I pour my cereal and add the small amount of nasty skim milk allowed. Then begin to eat. Grandma shoves a shopping list over and tells me everything she does not want from the store. As if we have messed it up before. Knowing me and my dad, we have. After we talked and I finished my breakfast. She rinsed off my bowl and spoon. Then dried them and put them away. She rarely used dish soap. I guess she assumed, if she rinsed the dishes right away, that was just as good. She then proceeded to the living room and sat in her chair, where she would stay for most of the day. I grab the list and look it over. I was always hoping for something new. Some 2% milk would be a dream come true. I hear dad making his way to the kitchen, still with the morning crust in his eyes. He pats me on the head like you would a dog and opens the cupboard. He grabs his bottle of cheap Tequila and proceeds to drink about half of it in two solid gulps, and returns it to its place. To me, this is normal, and he has no issue drinking in front of me. Because by this age I have already been allowed to drink with him. He goes to the shower, growling his words about something, and shuts the door. Now it is time for me to start my morning routine. I climb on the counter and grab the bottle. I drink half of what is left and fill it back up to where it was with water. I had it in my head I was helping him, that I could cut down the amount he will consume that day. It didn’t occur to me that I was doing exactly what he was. By now, I am already an alcoholic, in denial, and already drinking my pain away. I smoked weed as well, and that seemed very normal to me. I was full of depression, occasional suicidal thoughts, and a constant worry of my father, which consumed my life. I thought this was how life was. That everyone else must be the same. We get dressed for the day. Dad throws on his cowboy boots, and off we go. We smoke our morning joint as we talk about grandmas list, deciding what store to go to first. Shopping was always fun with dad if he was self-medicated. When I mean medicated, I am talking about the bottle, which is never far away. His main spot was under the seat. We would both drink a fair amount before entering the store. He almost seemed like a normal father. We would joke and do random silly things while shopping. His favorite was to find a store employee with a name tag and make small talk with them, convincing them they had gone to school together and were old friends. They would talk for what seemed forever. He would try to see how long he could keep it going. It was very entertaining. I would test his ability and point out any employee that would be hard to convince. Rarely did he fail. Then at a point, the withdrawals would kick in. At the time, I did not know what these were. I knew if he drank, they would go away. His hands would tremble, and I would have to help with whatever he was carrying. To me, this again was a normal situation. We would then pay and leave the store. I would get the groceries into the trunk. I would peer through the crack to make sure he got his so desperately needed drink. Then I would get in, he would hand me the bottle, and I would do the same. It sounds terrible, I know, but for me, this was just a trip to the store with dad. We would go home unload while talking about random things. Soon grandma would make her way into the kitchen. Scold us on anything we missed or got wrong, and dad would bicker back. Then we would argue about what to have for dinner. Dad was a great cook. I was always fascinated when he cooked. I would beg to help, and he soon would give in. I would grab my chair and hurry it up to the stove. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I was a small kid. We would laugh and joke and make a mess while cooking up the most amazing meal. I know my dad does not seem like a good father. He wasn’t, but he had his moments. After we had finished dinner, and was full as we could be. Dad would check his bottle and finish off what’s left. Then we make a trip to the place we both dreaded, the liquor store. We would watch a movie or something on tv. We would talk and smoke until he passed out. I would grab his boots, pull as hard as I can, till I could finally get them off. Then make sure he has a blanket. I take my final drink of the night, shut the lights off, and go to bed. If I was lucky, I had drunk enough to go right to sleep. If not, I would lay and stare at the ceiling, thinking about the day. Surprisingly this was a good day. Some days were better; most days were hell. This was one of many days with dad

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