Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let’s Pray That Daddy’s Not Drunk

In the lore that is Dick Brennan's life, the poem below is often either very well known, or not known at all.  Perhaps by sharing it here, more of you will know it exists, and maybe even understand that my father knew his demons quite well.

My dad was an alcoholic.  A drunk.  He'd slur his words, and come home very late from his buddy Frank's bar, which was all too conveniently located right between work at Kennedy Airport, and our home in Rockville Centre.  But the story of his drinking habits and history are only understood in the context of his life overall.  He didn't stop drinking until he was around 60 years old.  Most reading this reflection and poem haven't even reached that age yet. 

But he did recover, and did find sobriety.  He was even able to work as a bartender in the same bar he used to drink at!  Talk about willpower! 

This poem was written sometime between 1968 and 1973 (if you know when, please tell me, and I'll update this).  When he wrote this, my father was in his early 40s, had recently lost his first wife to cancer, and was trying to raise four young children on his own. 

Let’s Pray That Daddy’s Not Drunk

I went out as usual on Saturday night.
I knew that later I’d be high as a kite.
My kids were bathed and asleep in bed.
It’s tough on a man when his loved one is dead.

But for some strange reason, I thought a lot,
When in the bar, I never drank one shot.
I joked with the guys and had some beer,
But my mind kept thinking of memories dear.
Two hours before closing, I called it a night,
Very staid and sober—not as usual tight.

I went home to bed, I climbed the stairs,
For the first time in ages, I said some prayers.
Next morning I rose and cooked for us all,
My kids were amazed—I felt ten feet tall.

We went to church, I prayed my own way,
I realized this was Easter Day.
Coming out of church, I walked on air,
Then my youngest said, “Last night we all said a prayer.”

When I heard his words, my spirits sunk.
“Daddy! We prayed that you wouldn’t get drunk.”
The older ones hushed him, but the truth had been spoken.
I knew that my vows of marriage I’d broken.

My conscience was troubled for a moment or two,
But then the truth hit me. Suddenly I knew
That their mother—my wife—was praying for us all.
She had heard and answered her babies’ call.

Dick Brennan


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