N.W.BOYER…Christian Author… " Keeping Christ in Christmas"

Raise a Glass

A toast to something special may mean that you raise a glass of wine or some other alcoholic beverage. It is done every day between people of good will and fun. For those who may be a “teetotaler” for some reason or another, it may be water or whatever they are drinking to show their inclusion. The meaning is the same… a recognition for a special person or event.

In this time of the Pandemic, the statistics have shown that these stressful times have brought out the worse in people. On many occasions, the fun times have become something more…dependency and addiction. This could be through alcohol or even over the counter drug abuse. Which ever this may be, this type of self-medication will effect not only the person’s abilities mentally and physically, but those of the entire family…especially children. The psychological harm, as well as physical abuse, to the young may be far greater in the U.S. and around the world than we know at this time.

This blog is not to condemn anyone’s occasional drink, but to write a warning for the good of all. I start with sharing the experiences of a young child who lived many years ago in the mountains of the Blue Ridge. The time or place really doesn’t matter for the human experience is the same, regardless.

Aaron McAlexander writes in his wonderful book, The Last One Leaving Mayberry, a chapter on the thoughts and feeling of a young child who endured the use of alcohol by a father she greatly loved. Her mother passed away while the children were young and her Dad was never the same. He turned to alcohol to medicate his emotional feelings. Does this sound familiar?

Here are a few of her words: “The saddest year in my memory is the year of 1890, when after two years of illness my mother was called to her heavenly reward. I was ten years old…To add to our sorrow, soon after our mother’s death, Dad tried to find solace in drinking liquor, and soon he was staggering down the drunkard’s path, which so often leads to ruin. I remember him as being a good father until he took to strong drink, and even as a little girl I so hated the drink that turned him from a kind man into a cruel and harsh master. There were five of us children left at home…many days and nights we were left at home alone and afraid. Sometimes at night, we would call out into the darkness from the upstairs window. Sometimes our Dad would answer from somewhere up on the trail, but more often than not we would hear the echo of our voices die out into the misty stillness of the Maple Swamp. If he did happen to answer us, we would begin watching, staining our eyes for the first glimpse of him to see how he was walking. If he was walking straight, we immediately felt better and our glum home would begin to take on a little bit of cheer.”

A little bit of cheer” was all they wanted…to have Dad be what he was when he was not under the influence. The burden of finding food, cooking and other chores had fallen onto these children. How many children today are living under similar conditions because of the actions of adults?

It was through these difficult experiences that this child in Mayberry, VA, at the age of ten, knew in her heart what she would someday do… ” resolving as a young girl that if I ever had a husband and a home that they would be sober.” Probably Fathers and Mothers do not realize what strong impressions are made by their actions on their young children. It is through their modeling, during stressful times as in this 2020, that young people learn how to weather the storms in the future.

What does one do when depression sets in and the best of resolves to lick the problem doesn’t help? The most important part is to remove oneself from denial and own the problem. From this point, help is simply a phone call away to a trusted medical advisor or physician. We have the resources today that they didn’t have in the 1800’s or in the rural parts of the mountains. If this blog is hitting home with you or about a family member, do the right thing for yourself and your family…pray to God and seek help.

The childhood remembrances concluded as follows: “I could write on and on, but maybe these are enough glimpses to give you an idea of what my childhood was like…Sometimes Dad would declare that he was going to quit drinking and he might stay sober for a month. When he was sober our lives would take on a different meaning. But then he would break over again and we would despair of his ever doing anything worthwhile…he died homeless and pretty much alone…We all know our best days are passed, but that God had been with us when we needed help the most, and I am trusting that our tomorrows will be far better than some of our yesterdays.”

There is much more to this story, if you should want to read it all and many other wonderful stories of the challenges of ordinary people like you and me. I “raise my glass” of ice tea to the Author and those mountain descendants, now living, who shared their families’ stories.

Link to The Last One Leaving Mayberry

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