My dad’s best friend, Jim, is going to come down from Wisconsin in January to spend the winter months here in Florida. I like Jim. Love the guy. He’s happy-go-lucky, kind-hearted, and any other happy hyphenate you want to apply to him. He’s just an all-around good egg.
Jim’s always been a drinker. Even though he assured me that it’s been four years since he’s had a drink, something inside me just doesn’t believe him. He lives with a much younger guy who I know does drink, and I can’t see Jim not joining in.
I have reason to be skeptical. The last time Jim came down for a visit, dad had just been released from the hospital after having a quadruple bypass. Dad had a zipper of staples up and down his chest. He was taking medication that contraindicated alcohol. I told Jim before he came down that there’d be no drinking. Period. The end. If there was drinking, I’d have to ask him to leave–and take dad with him.
Well, the first evening I left the two alone, they called a cab to go out for dinner–and drinks. A lot of drinks.
When I returned from wherever I’d been, I was frantic. I had no idea where the two had gone off to–they left no note, of course. I canvassed the neighborhood to see if anyone knew anything, and no one did. By the time I got back to the house, a cab pulled up and out stumbled my dad. Jim at least kept his feet.
I was furious. I was cool, but I was furious.
As dad stumbled next door to relieve himself in my neighbor’s flowers, I approached Jim and reminded him that he knew the rules. I was sorry, but he’d have to leave. And he was going to have to take dad with him.
He didn’t believe me.
Jim packed and ordered up a rental car. While he did that, I packed a bag for dad. When Jim left, I poured dad into my car and followed. When Jim checked into his hotel room, I left dad at his door.
Jim called and called and tried to convince me to pick up dad, because by that time, dad’s happy drunk self turned dark. I finally convinced Jim that when I laid out the rules, I meant what I said, and Jim took dad up to Wisconsin with him.
In short order, Jim called my brother, who lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to see if he would take dad off his hands.
My brother said no. He didn’t want dad around his young children.
Jim called other friends of dad in Michigan and tried to pawn him off, but they didn’t want him. Dad had burned too many bridges.
Finally, I relented and agreed to take dad back, but only because he had to get his staples removed and had follow-up doctor appointments.
I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to get dad flown back to Jacksonville with no ID or wallet (this was pre-9/11). He arrived. Drunk.
Things were never the same between us after that. I moved him out of my house and into an apartment. We barely spoke for a year.
I don’t need to go through that again. I hope Jim’s telling me the truth.