I guess it should have prepared me for what was to come to light a few years ahead. I had left work to study for ministry and as a result I was home during the day a lot more. It was about that time I realised how much my mum was drinking. The signs seemed to just increase. Finding bottles in the airing cupboard in the midst of towels or stuffed down the side of the settee. When I passed my degree, my mum wasn’t at my graduation, not because she wasn’t proud of me. Her problem had become so intense that it kept her from attending. We tried to help, off course we did. She was admitted to hospital a few times with esophageal varices. That’s like varicose veins in the throat, they “pop” and bleed. It is a serious condition and is often a symptom of alcohol abuse. It didn’t matter what we said to help, it’s hard not to be able to help those that you love the most in life. I was a few years into ministry when it happened. There is no easy was to put it, the varices popped for a last time and she bled to death. I remember seeing her in the A&E and even although they had cleaned her up, I remember the dried blood stains on the corner of her nails. I had walked the path of grief of others but nothing prepared me for the sense of loss, the searing pain and trauma I felt at that moment. I think knowing you have helped others and couldn’t help those closest to you and to be faced with such a consequence added to the pain. But let’s be clear here, I am not rubbishing my mum. She was a wonderful woman, I love her still. She had a problem. She opened up a few times and spoke of when she was very young she had woken up in bed and had found her gran dead in bed with her. That even was something she never got over. In those days, people, not even kids got help to deal with such things. She lived a very fruitful life. She had a bone structure akin to Audrey Hepburn, she was a very good looking woman. Mum was an excellent ballroom dancer. Lilian, my mum, married and had 2 kids. She held down some high powered jobs, for a woman at that time, that was a real accomplishment. She enjoyed life, I am sure I will share some of the great times we had, there were many. However, Lilian had a problem she just couldn’t get over. Her way to deal with that pain was to drink. Even as I write this now I wonder what could have been done to have helped her. It is easy to point the finger and to condemn than to try and understand and help. I wanted to help but at that time I couldn’t, I didn’t have the skills, maybe I was too close, I don’t know.
Things have moved on a lot. There are far more professionals around that are able to help than there ever were. Yet still people resort to drink, drugs and other means of escape rather than to face their demons and to deal with them. Maybe you are reading this today and are starting to deal with your own problems in ways that are not healthy. Perhaps, you are watching a friend or family member who has hit the self-destruct button. You know it doesn’t have to be that way. The thought of being vulnerable with another and sharing your pain might feel too much to ask. When I think back although my mum dealt with her pain by temporarily self-anesthetizing. It never made the pain go away for good and that pain translated to those of us that loved her. Both watching and ultimately when she died. My mum was big hearted and a giver. Maybe her parting gift can be helping you to get help for yourself or those you love. I love you mum x x x.