Personal Column: Losing my grandmother to alcoholism


Keyana Coit, Staff Writer

By Keyana Coit, Staff Writer

As I looked at her, I started to wonder who she was. My grandmother was changing, and the more we tried to help her the further she drifted away. She was so far gone, and we couldn’t bring her back.

When my mother was young, she witnessed my grandmother’s alcoholism first hand. My mom told us about the emotional and physical torture my grandmother’s addiction caused her. She explained how during my grandmother’s violent temper tantrums she’d lash out and hit her. She was forced to drive my grandmother around because she was too drunk to be behind the wheel. “I would never put you through what my mother put me through,” my mom reassured us often.

When my siblings and I were born my grandmother sobered up. She put the alcohol aside. She started going to AA meetings and removed temptations that would lead her to drink again. Growing up, I was always at her house, and our bond was unbreakable. She was always there for me when I needed someone I could trust. She loved me unconditionally. The woman I knew was never a drunk or an alcoholic; I just knew her as a woman who cared a lot about her family.

When I was a little older, she started to slip. It began as just a few wine bottles here and there, so we never imagined that it would be a problem again. However, it progressed quickly. She began to get drunk more often. She’d greet me with slurred words and stumble as she walked around the house. It was when I found her asleep in a chair outside on the patio that I suspected something was wrong, but naively I believed that maybe she was just tired and had fallen asleep. However, when I woke her up, all hope was lost. The smell of alcohol still lingered on her breath, and that was a dead giveaway. That’s when I realized she wasn’t just asleep; she was passed out. I was young then, but I still knew what was going on.

From that point forward, her addiction pushed me away. Our relationship fell apart. I felt like she chose alcohol over me, and I could not help but think that it would always be that way. But still I loved my grandmother, so one day I decided to give our relationship another try. One afternoon as I lounged in the house I turned and looked at her, and she yelled, “Get up!” Sensing something was wrong I hurriedly scrambled up. “You know my house is never messy,” she exclaimed, “Get up and clean up!” I looked to the right, and her wine glass was full, and her eyes were glossy. Her addiction was taking a toll on our relationship. I felt lost and sad without the loving woman I once knew. I loved her more than anything, and the alcohol was slowly taking over her body. She was changing.

I went from calling her every day, to calling her once a month. Our phone calls were the only communication left between us until we stopped talking altogether. After some time without speaking to her we became worried, so the next day we went over to see her. I was speechless as I spotted a big bruise on her eye from a previous car wreck. Furthermore, her house was a complete mess from a fire that occurred after she got drunk and passed out while cooking. Smoke was everywhere, and all of the doors and windows were open to air out the house. The kitchen looked as if it had not been cleaned in months. Her hair was in a disarray, and her clothes were on backward. My mom teared up looking at her. She yelled at my grandmother saying that she could have killed herself. My mother choked on her words. She could not stop herself from crying, so she left the house to dry her eyes and escape the intense smoke fumes.  My grandmother then looked at me and smiled, and the stare I returned to her was filled with so much hurt and hatred. This was an entirely different person standing in front of me, and I couldn’t take the pain. I remember the gentle woman who used to take me to get my nails done. The woman who would take walks with me in the park was gone and replaced with someone who could barely walk straight. Realizing it all I ran out the house trying to hold back my tears, but I failed to do so.

That day taught us the severity of her condition, and we worked hard to get her help. We suggested AA meetings and rehab, but she refused. The day she refused our help she chose alcohol over her family. My family was afraid that the alcohol would kill her but it already did.The person we once knew is forever gone, and I don’t think we can bring her back.