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Eulogy for an Addict

October 19, 2015

Some days you remember every detail. For me, Oct 19, 2015 is one of those days. The day started off just as any other Monday. I made it to advanced accounting at 8 a.m. (which is as terrible as it sounds) and then work in the accounting lab. During this time I had gotten a few phone calls from my dad’s girlfriend telling me she couldn’t reach him, but he routinely turned his phone off, ignored calls and left his phone somewhere that he wasn’t. About noon I went to lunch with two friends at Subway, during lunch I received a phone call from my dad’s boss (I was his emergency contact) telling me he didn’t show up to work and after making contact with the hotel staff, he was found unresponsive.

My dad was gone…

I immediately started calling people, and there are absolutely no worse phone calls to make. So let me back up a bit. I said I remember every detail, and that isn’t 100% true. I spent the day on the phone with the police, the medical examiner’s office and friends and family. After a total of 76 different phone calls, I went shopping with my aunt to help her get some stuff for mom, sister and the grandkids. So about 1 a.m. I found myself sitting on the couch in a blur.

My father was 56 when he passed, but he had been slowly killing himself for years. My father was an addict. He had been an alcoholic for years, but had really deteriorated within the prior 8-10 years. Numerous times we had spoken with him about it, but even though he knew he had a problem, he refused to admit it was as bad as we claimed, which is typical for addicts.

Side note: I’m not going to argue with you whether or not you consider addiction a disease or not. If you want to have that conversation, fine, I don’t.

My dad hit a low point about 6 weeks before his death. He showed up to our family reunion drunk, and we exchanged words. He went to leave and I went after him, someone stopped me for something and he was able to drive off before I could catch up to him. But I never heard anything else so I assumed he had returned to his hotel to sleep. About midnight I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize, so like everyone else, I rejected the call and googled the number. It was the local detention center. At that point, I figured it was a mistake, but it wasn’t. He had fallen asleep in his car at a local restaurant and the police were called.

For the next six weeks he had been scared straight and was doing really well. Unfortunately, he was then sent to South Beach Miami for work. There are a total of zero places on this Earth worse for a recovering alcoholic than South Beach.
In the end, his addiction won, and we are without our father.

Every day I wonder if I did enough, maybe I could have physically made him to go rehab, maybe my siblings and I could have staged a full scale intervention. But at the end of the day, I have made peace with the fact that we did everything we could, because addicts will not get help unless they decide they need it and not a moment earlier.

As Marc Antony said:
“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones”

With that, I will let the good my father did be with him.

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