Open letter to Opa.

23Nov08

Yo Pops

Dear Dad,

You’re coming to visit today, and I’m equal parts happy and anxious.

Your granddaughters, who get to enjoy your company for a few days each year, are giggling and giddy with anticipation. They’ve made a “Welcome Opa” sign, decided which board games you’re going to play and in what order, and have even set aside some of their hard-earned Halloween loot to share with you. This makes me happy.

My big sister K., whose home was first on The Opa Comes Stateside Tour, tells me you were drinking openly — but also having furtive, late-night drinks — while there. This makes me anxious.

I know you’re not on the wagon anymore, and I don’t think you have been for several years now, though it’s not something we’ve talked about recently. I sent you that email a few weeks ago about my being in AA, along with my request that you respect that.

At this point, I’m not sure what “respecting that” might entail…maybe just being okay with my not having any booze in the house and not bringing any in, not overdoing it if you drink when we go out to dinner, stuff like that… I’m hoping you’ll help me in this way, because I’m feeling quite protective of my sobriety right now. It’s a delicate, precious thing, and I want to keep it at all costs. I’m going to be quite the fixture at AA meetings this week, of that much I am certain.

Speaking of AA meetings, knowing that you were in the program in the past, I’m kind of tempted to invite you along to one with me, but I’m not sure if that’s okay to do. I’m kind of fuzzy on Sobriety Etiquette. Since there is no “Dear Abby” for recovering alcoholics, it’s a good question for my sponsor.

I also want to ask about your alcoholic history. I remember spending my childhood seeing you passed out on the sofa downstairs, reeking of booze and cigarettes and urine. I recall the shame of my junior high and high school years, when I couldn’t have friends over for fear of being tragically embarrassed. I met my dates at the curb and had them drop me off there, too. No hanging out in the living room or sneaking a kiss at the door. It was just too dangerous.

I want to know how you were able to stumble through 15+ years, inebriated and irresponsible and mostly uninvolved in my and K.’s formative years.

I want to know how long you were in AA, and how many times you tried to get sober. And why you aren’t now.

I realize this all sounds pretty accusatory and angry. Clearly I still have work of my own to do. I know this. But I also think that knowing more about you might help me understand my own thoughts and behaviors and inclinations.

After all, I love that I inherited your bright blue eyes and your way with words and your sense of humor. But when it comes to drinking, I do not want to be like father, like daughter.

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One Response to “Open letter to Opa.”

  1. Oh, how I relate to this. It’s so hard to talk about the weaknesses of somebody who is supposed to be your hero. Brave post. I hope you are able to have some good conversations with your father over the holiday.


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