A Difficult Christmas

22 Jan

I was very close to my grandparents growing up. I was lucky enough to have two grandfathers and a grandmother around for my childhood. One of my grandfathers, my “Papa” was an alcoholic.

When I was younger, I didn’t really understand words like drunk, alcoholic, sobriety etc. I didn’t understand what people meant when they would talk about my Papa and his drinking problems. To me he was just my Papa. I loved going to visit him, he lived in his trailer on an orange orchard, and there was always plenty of room for whatever outdoor fun we could imagine.

To me, my Papa was a hardworking man, a little rough around the edges, but he was always friendly and loving. We didn’t get to see him a lot, I have a feeling my mom didn’t want us to see him drunk. He would occasionally show up at holidays or family functions. I remember being excited several times because I thought he was coming to see us, and even as a child my heart broke when he couldn’t make it. I didn’t understand why he was always “sick” and couldn’t spend time with us.

A few times my Papa got so “sick” that his body just wouldn’t hold up to the abuse. He would come over and stay with us for a while to sober up, and help his body get better. He was never there for very long, but I remember loving it when he would come to stay.

On Christmas Eve one year when I was in elementary school, my Papa was expected as usual, but unsurprisingly he didn’t call or show up. The Christmas Eve festivities went on as usual, and no one really thought anything of it. Later that night my mom tried to get ahold of him, to wish him a merry Christmas, but got no answer. I am not sure who found him or how, but my grandfather was found on Christmas morning, behind his trailer. He had passed away.

My parents explained to us that our Papa was gone, and we did the best we could to grieve, and continue on with our lives. After that, I didn’t put much thought into my grandfather’s passing, I knew he was gone and it was left at that.

My mother sat me down one day, and told me that she needed to tell me the truth about Papa. I was very confused about what she was talking about. She told me that my Papa had gotten very drunk on Christmas Eve before he died, and he had taken himself out behind his trailer and committed suicide. My whole world spun a little, and I didn’t know what to say. She made the situation much worse with her reasons for finally telling me the truth.  Apparently she was afraid my older brother (the one who ran away), was going to tell me the real reason my Papa was gone, to turn me against my parents, and decided to beat him to the punch. So in one happy afternoon, I not only learned that my grandpa shot himself, but I learned that my mom liked to one-up my brother…classy.

I can honestly say that I was very bitter at my parents for hiding something like this from me. I was even more upset that my mom somehow thought my jail-bird brother would be able to get the message to me, and that I would believe him. As I got older, I came to the conclusion that I wish my parents would have either A) not told us in the first place, why would you put that on a child? Or B) Told us when we were a reasonable age and capable of handling such weight, and not under such crappy circumstances.

I sometimes wonder if he would still be around, had he decided not to end his life. I wonder if the people who choose this ending think about the people they leave behind. I wonder if the think of the holidays, birthday parties, weddings, and special occasions that their presence will be terribly missed at. Sometimes I am bitter that he gave up these moments because he didn’t want to be around, but then I remember how sick he was. Having suffered addiction problems myself, I know how hopeless and horrible it can all seem. I will still always miss him, and I will always wish he could be there, in body, for all the amazing moments I have been fortunate enough to live, but I hope he has at least found peace.

Authors Note:

Suicide is never the answer. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and will not solve anything. If you have had, or are having suicidal thoughts, I encourage you to find someone to talk to. Seek help. You are loved and unique, and the world needs you here. If you don’t think anyone cares, I do. I think the world is made up of beautiful, unique, amazing people, and it would be a tragedy to lose anyone to such an unfortunate end.

If you need someone to talk to:

The International Suicide Prevention Wiki

Or give me a holler, seriously; there is always someone out there that cares!


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© I Am Not Defined, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


7 Responses to “A Difficult Christmas”

  1. Imported Kiwi January 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Clicking “like” is not the right sentiment… But just want to let you know I think you are so brave for sharing this. And I really agree with your note at the end.

  2. lensgirl17 January 30, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    After reading this post, I don’t think about suicide anymore. Sometimes I feel that no one cares about, but now I think that I’m wrong… Thank you for sharing your experience.

  3. linneann February 9, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    Very touching. I could actually leave a really long response to this but suffice it to say that lensgirl17’s response puts this post in the “amazing” category. Well done.

  4. swissmousie February 14, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    I am so glad there are bloggers like you out there blogging, not just injecting cyberspace with more superficiality but making a difference. :-D

  5. ManicDdaily February 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    So sorry for the suffering expressed here. Very thoughtful. K.

  6. amarmirch February 25, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Alcoholism effects everyone. Great post.

  7. Pastor John Keller March 10, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your feelings and especially your wonderings. You express well the thoughts that many family members of suicide victims are often afraid to let out. Having preformed a few funerals for suicide victims, I have experience a family’s pressure to keep it all secret. But real grief and healing can only come with open, honest communication. Thank you for modeling that openness.

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