My father had an alcohol problem. He also had a drug problem, but it was the alcohol that killed him.
Near the end of his life, my father was hospitalized several times for blacking out, and hallucinating. One time he even called the police telling them I was dead, wrapped in a blanket in his bedroom. He told them he knew I was dead, because I wasn’t breathing. Of course I wasn’t dead, I wasn’t even there. He was the only one in his room that night. He also had visions of a man, that I think he feared. He kept a block of knives at his bedroom door.
He was living in a shelter at the time. I was concerned that he might open the door and kill whoever was knocking because of his hallucinations. The young woman who was his counselor at the time didn’t seem concerned at all. She didn’t see a violent side to him. Thankfully he never did use those knives on anyone.
During his hospitalizations I would tell those “taking care of him” that he was suicidal. Most people were only interested in getting him stabilized and out the door. Nobody would listen to me. They didn’t see him as a threat to himself or others. He lost months of his memories during one of his blackouts. He also received written documentation of the damage being done to his brain.
My father kept that document on his refrigerator. Some thought it was to remind him of what his drinking had done, so that he could try to give it up and get better. I knew why it was really there….as evidence that what he was doing was working!
My father would get sober for a little while here and there, but it was never because he wanted to. He would go through the programs after a DUI, to avoid harsher penalties. He’d try not to lose his place in the shelter, but even that risk wasn’t enough to get him to quit.
I tried to tell him he had something to live for. I was trying to spend more time with him. I only had my oldest child at the time, and wanted my dad to see that he needed his grandfather. My dad was the last living grandparent he had. My son was only 7 at the time. Nothing I said could change his mind. He was determined to die.
He died alone in his apartment, which he had for only a couple of months. It was obvious what had happened. There were hundreds of beer cans. I think he knew he was close to completing his task, because he had recently had a lobster dinner. One last treat, or possibly his last meal. It was father’s day weekend after all.
I feel a bit guilty for not calling him on father’s day. I knew he’d be drunk, and I wanted to celebrate with my husband and our son without the drama of my dad.
When I eventually called, he didn’t answer. That wasn’t uncommon, but he wasn’t answering calls from anyone for days. My brother found him. I got there soon after. There was nothing anyone could do, he accomplished his goal.
I apologize for this ramble. There is a lot more to the story, but I basically wanted to share that those I thought could help my father weren’t willing to try… maybe because they knew what I didn’t at the time. It wasn’t going to change his mind.