Friends of the Richelieu. A river. A passion.

"Tout cedit pays est fort uny, remply de forests, vignes & noyers. Aucuns Chrestiens n'estoient encores parvenus jusques en cedit lieu, que nous, qui eusmes assez de peine à monter le riviere à la rame. " Samuel de Champlain

"All this region is very level and full of forests, vines and butternut trees. No Christian has ever visited this land and we had all the misery of the world trying to paddle the river upstream." Samuel de Champlain

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In my grandparents' footsteps

Are we fated to repeat our (grand)parents' mistakes? The thing my mother feared the most in her future mate was alcoholism. Was it written in the stars that it should break my heart also?

My mother was almost a love child: her parents got married exactly 9 months before she was born. But as soon as she was old enough to earn some money to support her family, she had to leave school were she was getting top grades and find a job. Her mother had thrown her father out of the house because he was drinking his paychecks away.

And so my grandparents on my mother's side grew old and died apart because of alcoholism. Am I going to follow in their footsteps?

I always had the feeling that my mother did not marry the love of her life, although she did stay married to my father for 40 long years. Did the one that captured her heart drink? I know she and my father were afraid of alcoholism: both their fathers were alcoholics. And so my parents kept a tight lock on the bar at home, and rarely had enough to get drunk.

So the last thing they wanted for me for a mate was an alcoholic. So how to explain that they both loved T so much? Would it have made a difference? I remember when, in the middle of the night, it dawned on me that T was an alcoholic. I cried, and cried, and cried.

But T was gentle, intelligent; we thought so much the same way; the chemistry was good, and it just made sense that we should shack up together.

Through the years, the drinking got worse, and what were quirks in his personality when I met him became deep rooted bad habits (manias?) impossible to shake, or even shape. And so T, now mentally and physically handicapped because of his alcoholism and bad eating habits, has become too much of a burden for me to bear.

Maybe I don't want to be part of T going back to drinking again: I could not bear watch him slowly drink himself to death one more time. Maybe I'm afraid of failure, afraid I would be partially to blame for his downfall. I really have not pinned it down yet. I just know I don't want him under my roof when that happens. It's just too much. My heart broke last year. I just don't want to live all through this again in my own home.

During her last lucid years, my mother often told me how she now admired her mother, such a frail lady that came through in the end. Was she sending me a message? I guess I'll never know.

A sign of things to come? The flood of the Richelieu River in May 2011 forever changed the mood of the River in front of my home. Islands disappeared, mature trees were ripped away and floated down the rapids, rocks and stones were left behind in strange patterns, the bones and spine of the riverbottom were revealed for the first time in generations, and the Chambly Rapids took over the full width of the delta, like Nature always intended. Change was in the air, and I was a bit fearful, I admit, of loosing forever the river of my childhood. My mother had just died, and I knew a new life was in store for me if I dared embrace it.

1 comment:

  1. I learned recently that a younger cousin of mine just died: I had not heard anything about him in ages, and now I find out that his funeral mass was celebrated in the chapel of the homeless in Montreal. He must have been an alcoholic, just like his grandfather.