My father was an alcoholic.

As a child growing up under the same roof as an alcoholic, I realize I had it far better than a lot of youngsters did who grew up with a parent or parents who found it challenging to say "no more" or "enough" when partaking of alcoholic beverages. When he was on one of his drunken stretches he never hit me, and there was always food to eat and clothes to wear.

Because of my father's drinking problem I frequently felt as if I was walking on “egg shells.” I was constantly worrying that something I did or failed to do would trigger one of his binges, which would typically last for a few days to as long as a month before he would climb back on the "wagon" and be sober for a while.

To be sure I have some positive memories of my father. I owe being a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals to him because he frequently had the ballgame playing on the radio. He was also good about taking me out and hitting me ground balls in the backyard and flyballs at a nearby ballpark.

I also have my father to thank for putting a healthy fear of alcohol in me. Because I was afraid I might have inherited his inability to handle alcohol I always found it easy to just say "no thanks." I certainly never wanted to put my wife and children through the same things that I experienced growing up as a result of my father's alcoholism. No child should come home from school to find a parent passed out on the floor in a drunken stupor or be awakened by a drunk parent who is trying to take their own life.

Why today's trip down memory lane? I was reminded of my father's alcoholism last week by a comment made by Andrea, a member of the Hannibal Regional Home Health program. After learning of a streak that I have going of 18 consecutive days without a fall, Andrea remarked that she needed to get me a "coin," explaining that members of Alcoholics Anonymous are awarded, or at least used to be given, special "coins" upon reaching certain benchmarks of sobriety.

Andrea added with a chuckle that if my streak continues members of the Marion County Ambulance District and Hannibal Fire Department, who I have periodically called upon to help get me back on my feet following a fall in my home, will not remember my name.

The streak has come at a good time. By remaining upright it has given my body a chance to heal from injuries I had suffered during previous tumbles.

To what do I attribute my streak? I wish I had a definitive answer so I could keep doing it and keep the streak alive. Luck is definitely a factor. Despite being fairly sure footed during the streak, there have been a few wobbles. I have had the good fortune of having someone ready and willing to put a hand on my back to help keep me from going down. I also believe what I have learned from the hospital's home health team has been a contributing factor.

Why is staying on my feet so important? To the average person remaining upright is something they think little about, except maybe on an icy winter's day. However, for people like me with Parkinson's each day of not falling is a blessing because we understand that the injuries we might suffer if we go down could be a "game changer." Consequently, I believe my string of days without a fall is definitely a streak worth trying to continue.

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