Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Peace be with you

I just found out a few days ago that my uncle will not be coming to our family's Thanksgiving celebration this year. This is the uncle that I grew up with -- who is my godfather; who lived a block away; who could and did fix anything we needed; who told jokes with punchlines like "I left my harp in Sam Clam's disco" and "Silly rabbi, kicks are for Trids!" and offered milk by asking if we'd like a glass of "Chateau le Meyer." (Mmm, Meyer Dairy ... but that's another story for another post.)

He can't come because he is under house arrest after his second DUI. He has an ankle bracelet and can't leave the house except to go to work, nor can he have any alcohol in the house. The good news is that the punishment seems to be working. He hasn't, as far as anyone can tell, had a drink in a few months and he is seeing a counselor for the first time in his life.

I'm hopeful. I had been very concerned about him. For several years he had been in a downward spiral, existing on little more than coffee and cigarettes during the day and alcohol in the evenings. He lost a part-time job, one he very much enjoyed, when he showed up drunk. In his regular work, he builds houses so I worried about injuries on top of the possibility of car wrecks and disease. His wife tried to help and got nowhere.

Of course there's no one reason why anyone becomes an alcoholic. In his case, I speculate that it was a complicated soup of genetics, unresolved grief at the loss of his parents, perhaps an undiagnosed learning disability that caused him to do poorly in school and lack self-esteem.

I also believe that post-traumatic stress from his time in Viet Nam was involved. His brother (another uncle, whom I barely knew) also served and also suffered in the years that followed: abandoning his family, bouncing from city to city and job to job; eventually dying of cirrhosis and cancer in a VA hospital.

This post was inspired by today's Blog Blast for Peace. Because in the same way that I worried, and still worry, about my uncles, I worry about those soldiers, sailors, and airmen serving today, and about the repercussions that they and their families will experience for decades to come. Just like those commercials that proclaim "Depression hurts everyone," so does war, and in so many hidden ways.

For today, I am thankful that my uncle may be, just may be, healing. I hope he finds peace and comfort, and I hope the same for all victims of war.


Suz said...

I'm sorry that he's in such a difficult place and hope he finds peace as well.

Travis said...

Good luck to your uncle in his journey toward his own peace, and to your family as they support him.

Peace to you and yours on this wonderful Peace Globe Day and always.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

I hope your uncle will remain on this path towards peace. Good for him.

Julie Pippert said...

This is a really great contribution. It shows the cost. Many good wishes for your uncle to find strength and keep on the good path.

Using My Words

Bond said...

Luck for your Uncle...Maybe you can visit him on that day for an hour or so..

Patois said...

That was a beautiful, heartfelt post. Peace.

mothergoosemouse said...

I'm sorry. I can identify, having a few family members who seem bent on their own destruction. It's hard to watch, and I'm glad he's getting help.

Lady M said...

Best wishes for your uncle.

Tree said...

I hope your uncle follows through and finds resolution and peace in his journey.

This new war and its victims are going to present new and different challenges and it worries me greatly.

Now is the time for us to determine what is the best way to help those returning and assist their transition home.

movin'mom said...

So much energy and time is spent by the loved ones of addicts, whether that be in worry, prayer, aggravation, disappointment, anger, screaming, tears, fear, and love. It is when we realize that they have to wnat the help and allow them to find it, that we finally find peace.

I hope that this is where he finds his peace.

Lisa said...

This gave me goosebumps. Alcoholism does hurt families. It hurts several generations following as well. Good luck to your uncle on his journey.

And like you said, I worry for the soldiers as well with this current war that's going on. Worry for them, their children, the people who love them.... So very sad.

hamiam said...

Amen. Having worked with the homeless, a disproportionate number of them are vets with mental health concerns, substance problems or both. The military didn't (and still isn't) provide the debriefing and aftercare that these soldiers needed.

Prayers for your uncle that he may continue in his recovery.

Mimi Lenox said...

Prayers for your loved one and prayers for you. It is a difficult thing to face but thank goodness he has support from you.

Peace to you and yours always.