Guilt filled me. I felt like I should have used softer words when I scolded him like a child. It was in times like those, when my father was drunk that my mother's words would repeat over and over again in my head, "Your father was a drunkard before he met me. If I hadn't been in his life to help him turn it around, he would have died in a ditch somewhere." I would listen to her till she brought up death. My ears would shut off at all the words afterward. She knew that so she would fill in the rest with nonsense until I began to listen to her again. "If I were to pass from this world, you father would most likely turn back to the bottle."
I never believed that my mother would pass from this world before my father. That was until September 5th, 2003, when the unfathomable came true. It was dark that night. She was on her way home from a long day of work when a drunk driver collided into the side of her SUV. "She died instantly." The Doctors had said. My father couldn't handle the news. Death had never been a strength of his. He turned to his old love, whiskey. Instead of praying to God or talking to me, (his daughter and only child), I found him taking comfort in a bottle of whiskey every night.
I started sweeping up the broken bottle on the floor as I recalled the scolding I had given my father the previous night... I had found him with a bottle to his lips in the basement of our house and I had cracked, "Daddy again?" I exclaimed. Disappointment filled my face. He ignored me as he took another swig from the bottle. "Why can't you put the bottle down for just one day?" I asked him. He knew how much I hated seeing him drink. He didn't care. Why should he? He grunted something in drunken speech I couldn't understand. "People are starting to talk," I stopped, hoping he would say something but he didn't. "They say your lazy as a pig, and that I should let you live out on the street and find my way in the world."
"So what, people talk." His words were slurred and difficult to make out. "Why don't you? You don't have to stick around here and try to take care of me. Your mother was the only thing I loved more than whiskey. Now she's gone, whiskey is what I take comfort in to get over her death." He took another swig from his bottle. His words were like knives to my heart, tears began began to flow down my cheeks.
"It has been five years since her death daddy. Do you plan on spending the rest of you life in the basement with a bottle in your hand?" He shrugged his shoulders. My face was getting red and my head had pressure building up inside it. I burst, my words flowing like a river that had been held back by a dam. "Fine! Act like you don't care. I'll leave you here where you belong, in a basement with a bottle. Mamma can look down on you with tears in her eyes from heaven while you drown your pains and sorrows away with whiskey." I stormed up the stairs and didn't look back.
At the top of the stairs I fell to my knees, tears streaming down my face, I put my hands on my face and sobbed. “I’m not supposed to be the mature one.” I told myself. “That’s daddy’s job. He is supposed to wrap his arms around me when I’m sad and tell me it’s all going to be alright. Tell me mama would be proud of her daughter, and let me know I am loved.” I sobbed even more, letting out all my frustration flow out of me through the tears.
I looked at my father. "I love him too much to abandon him now." I told myself. He was deep in a whiskey slumber dreaming about who knows what. Pale as the moon were his cheeks, his hands were beginning to show his age. His grayish brown hair looked like a tornado had taken a ride through it. I laid a blanket over his body. "I'm sorry daddy, I'm not going anywhere." I learned over and kissed his forehead.
Guilt no longer possessed me. I felt free, even though my father still slept in a whisky dream.