No matter what time of day or night, our aunt and uncle would immediately pick us up. Mom would pack paper bags with a clean change of clothing and toothbrushes and then we would all sneak out the back door and walk down the road to wait for their pretty blue car.

My aunt and uncle were angels, whisking us away to grandmother’s house where it was safe. She always had our beds ready and a hot meal waiting for us. I always longed to stay at my grandmother’s house because it was so serene. Sometimes after a drunken binge dad would appear on the porch with a bag of candy or a jar of honey as a peace offering.

Without fail, my grandmother welcomed him warmly and insisted that he sit down for coffee and home-baked cookies or cake. She would sit with him and chat as though nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. I realise now that she did this to soothe my dad and keep the peace because she understood the intense shame that he felt. Once I overheard her telling my mother that if dad could stay away from whiskey, he would be the nicest human being ever.

Friday was our day to go to the grocery store, but often we had to wait until Monday when he was sober. Sometimes he would announce he would quit drinking, but he was never able to do so. Until the Easter of 1963 - when he was diagnosed with chronic leukaemia. I was nine at the time and I had watched my dad’s unstable journey with alcohol. —