I've been missing my Grandma lately.
I think it's Al-Anon. There's a lot of adult children of alcoholics, which makes me think of my father, who is an adult child of an alcoholic himself. I'd never thought of how the family disease of addiction or alcoholism had run through the generations on my side of our family, as my husband's family is so spectacularly loud with addiction that it kind of drowns out the dull rumbling in my own.
My father's mother, who passed away a few years ago, was always my favorite Grandma. She was fun and funny, sweet and kind of sassy, and she thought I was the bee's knees.
It occurred to me last night that she is one of us. She never found her way to Al-Anon, but she lived with an active alcoholic for most of her adult life. My grandfather began drinking after he returned from World War II, and he died when I was a toddler from the effects of his disease. My father has a few particularly frightening stories of his father's alcoholic behavior.
I don't remember much of my grandfather. I do remember that he was a sweet man, if somewhat withdrawn. He never came to dinner when we went out to eat together. Looking back at this behavior through the lens of my own experience, I realize that he probably stayed home to drink alone. My father had refused to be around him with me if he was drinking, and he hid it well in my presence. I'm sure he took some relief in the absence of the family, but I remember as a little girl thinking that it was sad when he wouldn't come to dinner with the rest of us.
I was in my car today, and I was suddenly overwhelmed with sadness for my grandmother. Neither of my grandparents ever found recovery, and it occurred to me that my grandmother and I have something in common. She could have been a great friend to me at this point in my life, and I might have brought her some ideas about a better way to live.