One of the “vices” that I watched not only my dad, but a few of my relatives, and my dad’s friends struggle with was alcohol. My dad could really put it down!! Seagram’s 7 and Texas Sun Grapefruit juice was his preference. He drank beer as well, but I don’t remember as much beer being in and around the house like I recall the Seagram’s 7 and Texas Sun Grapefruit juice. As I told you in the introduction about my brother and I helping our dad on Saturday’s with his side hustle, we also knew that most of that money was going to his “extracurricular” activities so to speak. I can’t recall a time that we did not visit a liquor store on the way home from working. As a matter of fact, that was usually the first and only stop we made until we got home. There were occasions that my dad would take a swig every now and then as we worked, and by the time 12 noon rolled around, he was lit up! My brother and I often laugh as we retell the many stories of how we knew that God’s hands and angels were with us when we were in the truck with daddy. There were certain things about him that would always give him away when he had either a buzz, or was “over the limit”! His hair seemed to stand up on his head, or that infamous right eye closed as he drove. When the right eye was closed, we knew he had a little too much, but by the grace of God, we made it every time. I recall one instance in which daddy had a bit way too much and really couldn’t make it home. I believe I was twelve years old, and some kind of way I convinced him that I could drive us to the house. Of course I had never been behind the wheel, but I figured I could probably do a better job with no experience than my dad in another zone! Daddy got out of the car and stumbled to the passenger side and I got in the driver’s side and some kind of way, maneuvered us to the house. Back then, we could actually get our permits at the age of 13, and that’s exactly what I did, because I knew I would have to get us in on some days that daddy couldn’t.
I watched my dad growing up drinking quite heavily. It was pretty much a daily routine. There were times that he didn’t drink at all, but for the most part, this was his life. Work, home, and drink. Of course, we did the little league sports and all, and my dad had mastered how to drink enough to get that buzz yet not affect our sports and extra school activities. I watched this for pretty much all of my life, and quite honestly, growing up, it wasn’t a big deal to me. This was my normal. To see my dad have a beer or two and other drinks wasn’t anything that I thought was out of the norm. Of course, when I became of age to really know and understand that he had a problem, it was really impressed on me that my issue was in fact related not only to his problem, but some of the problems that would be noticeable in our family. Some people believe in generational curses, and some don’t. I tend to believe that we can all be influenced by our surroundings and upbringing. There are some things that are easier to fall into when you are around it more than other things. When we witness certain behaviors and patterns and if we don’t adjust or change ours, we can easily find ourselves repeating those same things.
It would take close to 15 years before I really understood that my behavior was easy for me to keep continuing because I had seen a pattern in my dad and a few relatives that had convinced me that even though the issue may have been different, I’m still following a set pattern that I had witnessed that I saw as no big deal. Because I saw this as no big deal, I would definitely use this as a crutch to continue my behavior in the future.
My brother and I often talk and laugh about certain things about our childhood. One of the things that we often talk about, are the many trips that we took with our father to certain “spots” in our community that we had no idea until we grew up that they were juke joints. There are many times that we spend amounts of time telling each other stories that we remember about these places again, because we were so young, we had no idea of what these places were. We only knew that this was an opportunity for us to be able to get candy, sodas, and play unlimited amounts of billiards. Daddy would often give us quarters to go play pool while he entertained himself with his friends. Again, because we were so young and naive we had no idea of the environment that we were in. It was harmless to us. Though it was harmless, I was oblivious to any of the repercussions that would follow. There are so many times as parents, relatives, and even friends, that we expose our children to certain things and environments that do not have the same effect on us that is does on them. I use to hear from my former pastor a truth that he would say that a child’s mind is like an un-programmed computer, and who or what is able to get to it firs often is the greatest influence on that child. It may not be the next day, next week, next month, or year for that matter, but sooner or later, those “seeds” that are sown in the life of that child will begin to sprout sooner or later! Had I known later in life that I had so many “seeds” planted at a young age!