Letter: Alcoholism affects manyI feel that I must respond to Joseph Bear’s letter in the July 31 Star-Observer. I understand and agree with Joseph that alcoholism is a disease. It is a terrible disease because it affects so many people other than the person who is addicted to alcohol.
By: Priscilla Peterson, Hudson, Hudson Star-Observer
I feel that I must respond to Joseph Bear’s letter in the July 31 Star-Observer.
I understand and agree with Joseph that alcoholism is a disease. It is a terrible disease because it affects so many people other than the person who is addicted to alcohol.
Joseph, I commend you for supporting your mother. I would hope that you and your family will take this opportunity of your mother’s incarceration and work with her and support her while she struggles to regain sobriety.
Unfortunately, those of us who didn’t know your mother see her as an arrogant person who, despite the judge’s orders, continued to drink anyway. Why didn’t she seek help with AA or a doctor?
On the other hand, I sympathize completely with the Strauch family. You see, Joseph, my husband and I have buried five people between our two families — all due to alcohol. You and your family will be able to see your mother, hug her and, in time, she will be free to be with you at home. The five family members we buried are no longer there for us to hug, greet at holidays and share family gatherings with. I want to tell you about those five people.
It was Dec. 7, 1968, when Bob’s Uncle Clifford, Aunt Frieda and their three children were returning to Range, Wis., from a Christmas shopping trip to the Twin Cities. About two miles from their home in Range, another driver came over a hill on the wrong side of the road. Clifford tried to get off the road to avoid a collision. He didn’t make it. The other driver sheared off about 18 inches of Clifford’s car, killed Clifford instantly and ground the head of his young son down to the lower jaw bone. Aunt Frieda and the two girls were injured. Both girls still carry the scars of that accident — both emotionally and physically.
I cannot tell you how difficult it was to walk by the scene of the accident.
At 3 a.m. May 24, 1969, our phone rang. I jumped out of bed and rushed to the phone, only to hear my mother’s voice — flat, with no emotion — telling me that my own brother was dead. He had been killed in a single car roll-over at about 1 a.m. He had been drinking. He left a young widow with three small children. Please tell me this, how do you answer this question from an 8-year-old little girl, “Why did my daddy have to die?”
Several years later, Bob and I and our kids were at his sisters’ home in Balsam Lake. We, along with two of Bob’s other sisters and their spouses, were visiting on a Sunday afternoon. Again, the phone rang. It was the Polk County Sheriff’s office. One of Bob’s cousins, Terry, and his buddy were driving east on Hwy. 8 heading for Rice Lake. They had been drinking. Terry pulled out to pass, hit another car head-on. Terry and his buddy died instantly. The young couple and two of their three children in the other car weren’t so lucky. One child was pulled free of the wreckage, but before the other four people could be helped, the cars burst into flames. They all died — burned beyond recognition. The six of us met Bob’s aunt and uncle at the mortuary.
The last family member to lose his life was the grandson of Uncle Clifford. He was named for the brother who had been killed in an accident on Dec. 7, 1968. Randy and his girlfriend were hit head-on by a young woman who had been drinking. Randy died instantly, his girlfriend lived for a short while.
I cannot tell you, Joseph, how difficult it was to hold Randy’s mother in my arms as she sobbed over her son’s casket.
Yes, Joseph, alcoholism is a disease. But the consequences of a person’s drinking are devastatingly painful for the victims and their families too. I strongly urge you to take this time of your mother’s incarceration and help her and your family heal.