How do you feel about drinking and driving? Maybe one or two drinks won't hurt? What about alcoholism? How does one become an alcoholic? Does anyone become an alcoholic who has never taken that first drink? I don't know. I've never tested that theory. What I do know in that several members of my extended family lost their lives because of drivers who were drinking. The first one I became aware of was only 21, just five years younger than me. I came home one day and there sat my aunt. I was glad to see her. I thought she was making a friendly visit with my mother. Soon my mother gave me the news, “Billie,” she said, “Sue's dead”. I was so shocked. How could my young cousin be dead? The story soon came out. Sue had been drinking in a local bar. The bartender thought she had drunk too much to go home by herself. He asked a friend of hers to take her home. He didn't. He took her into the desert. He made sexual advances. She refused and got out of the vehicle to walk home. She didn't get far. The FRIEND ran over her with his vehivle. She was dead. I couldn't say a word! Not 'I'm sorry, Auntie.' Not 'Will you excuse me, please?' to my mother. Not 'Please watch my kids.' Not 'Kids, please stay with your Grandma.' I just turned and left the house. I roamed the dirt streets and road near my mother's home for hours with my confused kids trailing behind me. In my grief I could not tell them to go home. I could not explain to them what was wrong. I just walked and my kids trailed behind wanting to comfort me, wanting to BE comforted but, for once, I could not comfort them. I could not BE comforted. Death had entered my world and it was because of a person who had been drinking.
Later, I don't remember how many years later, my aunt's daughter-in-law was returning home after visiting her brother who was terminally ill with cancer. In the car with her were two of her sisters, her daughter and one other young girl. A pick-up truck full of drunken people met my cousins vehicle head-on, moving at a high rate of speed. My cousin was killed, as was one of her sisters. The other sister received severe head injuries. She remained helpless the rest of the years of her life. Mercifully(?) the two young girls were spared any physical injuries. But the emotional scars? How long have they lasted? I still have mine, and I wasn't even there. I just imagine how that mother felt. She lost two daughters – three,really, for she was the one who had to care for the one who received the head injuries. Then there was her son who was dying of cancer. How did she cope? Who comforted her?
Again, a few years later, another cousin, a beloved son of the same aunt, was standing beside his son's car. They had stopped at the side of a busy highway, just as they neared a large city late one evening, to decide where to spend the night. Along came a drunken couple driving a pick-up truck. As they approached my cousin and his son a wheel came off their vehicle. The wheel, still rolling about 60 miles an hour aimed directly toward my cousin. My cousin tried to avoid it. He could not. The wheel ran over him, killing him, just as if the speeding vehicle, itself, had run him down, A couple of months later, my mother, my aunt's beloved sister, died of cancer.
Another time my aunt's son-in-law was killed in another head-on colision. Both drivers had been drinking. I also heard that a grandson-in-law was killed in an accident involving drunken drivers.
This is not a story of encouragement where people have successfully stopped drinking. It is the tragic, but true story, of a grieving aunt (and cousin – among others) whose family members were killed by drunk drivers. If you have a caring bone in your body you will remember this grieving woman. By the way, she lived to be 94 years old and, to my knowledge, she grieved for her lost loved ones all the rest of the years of her long life.