The Tattletale

As a child I kept to myself and kept my mouth shut.  That was safest in our house.  Just speaking your mind could get you in trouble.  And I learned not to ask questions!  Mom taught me that.  I was about 7 or 8 when in excitement at seeing that we were having corn on the cob, I asked her how many ears do we each get.  She slapped me across the face so fast I didn’t see it coming.  I sat at the table with silent tears dripping on my buttered corn.  No one said anything.  It was unusual for me to be slapped by her or dad.  I tried hard to be good and stay out of trouble, mostly out of fear.   There was always yelling and cussing.  Mostly between mom and dad and Hellion.   I didn’t tell on people, I kept everybody’s secrets.  Why would I want to witness more trouble?

In 1981 my dad was hospitalized with liver failure.  He was comatose for 17 days.  Most of the 3 weeks that he was in the hospital I was there with him, thou I was 31 with a family of my own and lived 3 1/2 hours away.  A few days into his stay he took a turn for the worse.  His doctor and the nurses seemed frantic, injecting him with several meds.   When he was stabilized I looked Dr. Pramote in the eyes and asked “Is he going to die?’  I really wanted him to assure me that he wasn’t, but he said he may so I hurried to call mom.  While awaiting her arrival, he asked me if dad was a heavy drinker.  My breath was tight in my chest as I stared at him and finally quietly said he’s an alcoholic.  He told me his liver shows it and that if he pulls through it was imperative that he stop drinking.

The morning he checked out of the hospital mom and I were there with dad when Dr. Pramote told him he had severe liver damage from drinking and that he must stop.  I could see tears in his eyes–only the second time I’d ever seen him cry.

A few weeks later I made the trip home to visit mom and dad and my sister’s family for Easter.  Alone together on the porch sofa Dad accused me.  “You told  Pramote that I’m an alcoholic.”  I admitted it.  He stayed mad at me for a short while, but he stopped drinking and lived another 16 years.

But I had told a family “secret”.  That is when I became a tattletale.

One Response to “The Tattletale”

  1. How were you supposed to respond to the doctor? Lie??? Tell the doctor that he only drank occasionally in social situations??? Did they not realize that your Dad needed to be honest with the doctor so they could treat him properly? Maybe your family wants to hold a grudge because you’re a “tattletale”, but if the doctor hadn’t told him he had to quit drinking he surely wouldn’t have lived another 16 years, so your family (including your Dad) should have been eternally grateful to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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