One Old Sage

Thoughts, Stories, and Bits of Wisdom

A Boy and His Dad…He Was Excited

He was excited! Today was the day he got to go to “the City” with his Dad. Usually it was a family affair with Dad, Mom and himself. He had to sit in the back seat on those trips. Today was different. Mom was staying home so he got to travel with Dad and got to sit in the front. This was going to be a good day.

English: 1958 Pontiac Laurentian 4-door side view

English: 1958 Pontiac Laurentian 4-door side view (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He couldn’t remember why they were going but it didn’t matter. When you are eleven any trip alone with Dad was a good trip.

Their shopping done, his Dad said he had to make one more stop to talk to some friends. The boy’s stomach started to sink. His fear was realized when they stopped outside the Legion on the way out of the city.

“I’ll only be a few minutes”, his Dad said with a nervous smile on his face. The boy had to stay in the car. No minors allowed.

It was a cool fall day but he was well dressed, so sitting in the car for a few minutes wasn’t going to be a problem. He watched the clock in the dash and as the minutes rolled by, he knew what was happening. Dad had “fallen off the wagon” again.

Fear gripped him. He was feeling alone and worried. How long would he have to sit in the car? What sort of shape would his Dad be in when he came out? What would Mom say? These sort of things didn’t normally end well.

When the alcohol took over, the minutes could turn into hours. His Dad would lose all track of time. They still had over twenty miles to drive home and needless to say he couldn’t drive.

Finally, he had no choice but to go into the Legion and see how long his Dad would be. He needed to use the bathroom. At least that was the excuse he’d use.

He walked into the building with fear and trepidation. This was a place where only men and their guests were allowed. He knew it was wrong to try and go inside but he needed to see his Dad. The man at the reception desk was an imposing figure to the young boy. The man told him he couldn’t be there.

The boy said he needed to use the bathroom as he’d been sitting in the car for over two hours waiting for his Dad. The man relented. Next the boy said he needed to see his Dad and find out how long he’d be. With reluctance, the man at the desk escorted him inside the bar.

There was his Dad drinking and laughing with some other veterans. A full beer on the table and a partial one in his hand. His Dad was clearly shocked to see him. The boy asked how long before they could go home. His Dad said, “As soon as I finish this beer.” The boy knew it was a lie. With a full glass on the table, he knew it would be at least a two beer wait. He went back to the car and waited. He fell asleep as there was nothing else to do.

Eventually, his Dad came out. The boy knew he was well into it. He walked with a slight stagger and had a giddy look on his face. He got into the car, started it, and began the drive home. He tried to make jest of the afternoon. The boy was frightened and sad. This was supposed to be a day for just the two of them. Fear and disappointment were his companions.

On the highway the boy suddenly yelled, “Look out!”

Wooden construction barriers were in their lane. The car was traveling fast and his Dad didn’t see the barricades or move over fast enough. They hit one. It broke. Pieces scattered across the road like shrapnel. The boy just wanted to get home. They made the rest of the trip in silence with the boy watching the road with even greater intensity.

But what else was he to do, he was only eleven.

23 comments on “A Boy and His Dad…He Was Excited

  1. Eli@coachdaddy
    September 3, 2013

    Such a strong story well delivered, my friend. I saw this from the perspective of a dad letting his kid down. And a reminder that no matter what, that drive with just pop and me is a big deal when you’re 11.

    Kids are always watching us, always learning about themselves, and about their parents. I hope we never forget how it feels from the child’s perspective.

    Well done, mate.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      September 3, 2013

      Thank you. This memory came back to me out of the blue and brought back all the feelings at the time. The car in the post is the same year and make as the car we were driving at the time. Seemed appropriate. :)

  2. Denise Hisey
    August 23, 2013

    Your writing is very powerful. A bit close to home for me, too.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      August 23, 2013

      Thank you. For those of us who have lived through an addiction sometimes the past is hard to shake.

      • Denise Hisey
        August 23, 2013

        Yes, whether it’s our own or our parent’s it can be hard to shake. Good point…

  3. Rivki Silver
    August 18, 2013

    Wow, what a powerful piece, and you write it so vividly.

  4. Diane Henders
    August 18, 2013

    So sad and scary. This should be required reading for those people who still think it’s okay to drink to drive. But what’s even sadder is that it likely wouldn’t make a difference – the only person they think about is themselves.

  5. garylindat@shaw.ca
    August 16, 2013

    HI Nelson: This is beautifully written and so sad. Kind of reminds me of Jeanette Wall’s book “Glass Castle” which is one of my favorite books of all time. I was hoping for the best with your biopsy. The news took a long time to sink in. I am so sorry. Now I am hoping for the best with your treatment and I am glad that we are in the year 2013 and not 1913. hugs, Linda

  6. Caroline
    August 16, 2013

    Nelson – you captured the happiness and eventual sadness and disappointment of this little boy to perfection. It’s a very sad story but so well written.

  7. Lynette d'Arty-Cross
    August 16, 2013

    Yikes! I am glad that you made it safely through that!

    It’s true that many of us of a certain generation came either from alcoholic households or households where excessive consumption wasn’t generally seen as much of a problem. People laughed about it or shrugged it off, even when it was a serious issue and causing serious problems for the families involved.

    My own dad, also a WW II veteran, was also a binge drinker; it usually happened about once a month. One time when he drove home drunk, he hit our fence, knocked it down and parked on top of it. He didn’t realize what he had done until the next day. In hindsight, I think that he was really self-medicating and of course, there was little help in those days for veterans. As he got older, his drinking lessened considerably until he almost stopped completely, but this wasn’t the case for many of his fellow veterans.

    Thanks for sharing this aspect of your childhood with us. Very thought-provoking. *Hugs*

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      August 17, 2013

      Thanks Lynette. I have no doubt that it was self medication to a degree too. As I mentioned in my Father’s Day post, he finally decided to dry himself out permanently and died about 7 months later at 65. He was such an incredible guy when the alcohol didn’t take over.

  8. Audrey
    August 15, 2013

    Nelson, this hit home in a big way. I was raised with an acoholic father, who for the MOST part was “on the wagon”, since my Mom was such a strong force, but there were many occasions where he “fell off the wagon”, mostly on Saturdays – she worked, he was at home with us. We had a few harrowing car trips, some scary temper tantrums, and even some happy results (the time he promised me one of the neighbour’s puppies – when my Mom came home, I can remember overhearing him say “well, just take it back” and her saying “you can’t promise a child a puppy, have her play with it all day, and then just tell her to return it”. Needless to say, I got to keep the puppy, and learned a good lesson -if you want something, just wait until your Dad is full of beer and then ask for it. Sad, but true.This was so well written,and so full of truth. Thank you, dear friend for sharing!

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      August 16, 2013

      Thank you for reading it as always. Dad was a binge drinker so we never knew when an episode would happen or for how long. It usually didn’t no last more than three or four days but the surprise was never a nice one. I find it amazing how many of us came from alcoholic households.

  9. ramblingsfromamum
    August 15, 2013

    Oh Nelson this gave my a pit in my stomach as I read. I am assuming the little boy is you? I put myself in your shoes, as a child that looks up to his dad and excited about the day ahead to spend quality time alone with him. I felt myself sitting in the car waiting for him to return and I felt the disappointment as you saw him in the bar still with ‘one more to go’. Driving home would have been terrifying, how extremely lucky that nothing else happened. Thank you for sharing this and I am glad that you are still here to write for us. (hug).

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      August 15, 2013

      I’m glad too. It was one of many such adventures. Thanks for the hug and back at you.

  10. Maggie
    August 15, 2013

    Sad and so common…wonderfully written, Sir Nelson.

  11. Perry
    August 15, 2013

    This is a sad story but very sobering.

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