Suburban Snapshots

Better Late

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My grandfather is a complicated man. In my memory, he's always as barrel chested as the Marine he used to be and as tough as the New York detective he was when he retired. He would drink scotch and water from just after waking until he went to sleep, and the alcohol made visits with him tense. But his love is at least as powerful as his temper, his heart twice as big, and in time we'd forgive his outbursts.

In December, Gramps was hospitalized after a bad fall. He was finally sent home a few weeks ago and we visited him for the first time in almost a year. He hasn't had a drink in 5 months and though it's hard to watch him struggle on weak legs it's amazing to be around him sober. I was finally relaxed, not mentally planning our exit just in case something set him off, not looking for signs of agitation — this must sound crazy to anyone who hasn't known an alcoholic.

Grandpa turned 82 in May. I hope he's finally found some peace. I hope sobriety sticks. I know he's frustrated by the new limitations of his old bones. I want to have more visits with him like this, and I am so grateful that the grandfather Anna met on this trip was the version I wanted my whole life to know.

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