Saturday, May 11, 2013

No. 390 – I Am the Walrus

Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Original Release: Hello Goodbye single, Magical Mystery Tour
Year: 1967
Definitive Version: None

My senior year at Wabash was the only time I went anywhere on Spring Break as a student. As I mentioned, I went to Tennessee with Matt for a long weekend to hang out and kind of get my mind straight. For the drive, Matt and I made a couple of tapes of Sixties and Seventies music that were in our record collections. Naturally, the Sixties tape had a lot of Beatles music.

Even though it would cut into our time together, I made this trip with full preapproval from Beth—anything to put off having to go home.

Why was I so full of apprehension, which made the drive from Knoxville, Tenn., to Columbus one of foreboding misery? I knew that as soon as I got home—the next day, in fact—we were going to hold an intervention for Mom.

The wheels for this were set in motion in February when I came home, I think, for Valentine’s Day. Scott, who still lived with Mom although he had long before moved down to the basement, was it wit’s end and wanted to try, well, anything to make things better. Jin also saw this as a potential opportunity to help Mom.

I was less certain. It wasn’t that I wasn’t in denial—that bridge had been crossed a year or two before, as I mentioned—or that nothing could be done. It was that what little I knew about alcoholism taught me that nothing got better unless the alcoholic recognized that he or she had a problem. To me, it was a simple proposition: Mom didn’t think she had a problem. Therefore she wouldn’t see that anything had to change.

The intervention, of course, would get her to see that she had a problem—in theory. (For those of you who have gone through this and know what I’m talking about, I apologize for treading over well-worn ground. I have to do this through my own perspective.)

Dad arranged for us to meet with a psychologist at a well-respected drug-rehab center in Gahanna (close to where I would live a decade later). Uncle Jack said he would participate and flew up from Houston, which led to a joyful dinner reunion with Dad, whom he hadn’t seen in at least a decade since the divorce. (They had been thick as thieves when Mom and Dad first were married.)

After dinner, we went to work—to talk things out and become convinced that an intervention not only was the best way to proceed but the only way. It ended up being like a group therapy session, and it was rough emotionally. I still wasn’t sure about this course of action, but when I saw how miserable things were through Jin and Scott’s eyes, that was all I needed to agree to participate.

I was surprised that Dad was there. He wouldn’t participate in the intervention, because if Mom saw Dad, she would think he orchestrated all of this and immediately shut down. I was even more surprised to see him cry at one point while we discussed Mom’s emotional neglect. The only other time I ever saw Dad cry was when he learned about the death of one of his best friends in a plane crash years before. It was another moment of understanding what he had endured, too.

We then set up a game plan and targeted Spring Break. Over the next month, each of us wrote a short script—we weren’t to depart one word from it—describing things that happened, how it affected us and always, always starting and finishing by saying, I love you.

Then, we had to concoct a ruse to get Mom out of the house and somewhere neutral—to better get her to agree to go into rehab, which was the whole point. That was my job.

We had another appointment at the rehab center the evening I drove up from Tennessee to run through our scripts one time. The next morning was go time. As I drove through Cincinnati, as the sun was setting, I could feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I still didn’t know whether this was going to work, but I also knew that there would be no going back.

(To be continued)

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