Quissie soon learned her organza wedding gown with hand-appliqued lace was a white flag of surrender.
A vision of feminine loveliness, she had stood dewy-eyed before God and all present and vowed to love, honor and obey John Boy Thompson...in sickness and in health. With that vow she would embark on a hopeless life-long journey, seeking peace while living in the combat-zone brought on by an alcoholic spouse.
She had grown up as an only child in a family whose inclinations were loving-kindness, graciousness and soberness. At sixteen, Quissie would sneak out of the house to meet John Boy at the local skating rink where some local teens gathered to smoke and share a beer. John Boy was older, had a job and a car as well as a tattoo or two. She was soon caught up in the rash adventure of being John Boy's girl .
John Boy flaunted his misbehavior as much as Quissie excused it. She knew he drank beer, most of the guys did. She was sure it was just a vice brought on by mischief; after all, his folks hadn't taught him any better. She knew once he settled down and they were married he would give it all up; he would accompany her to church and learn how a husband was to behave.
That never happened.
“Quissie, marriage counseling doesn't have a chance as long as John Boy's addiction is unresolved. I wish I could help; I really do. But, your husband is in love with alcohol. You will never have a chance for a normal marriage as long as he's drinking,” Pastor Carter had informed Quissie a number of times over the years.
One would think the beer truck delivered door-to-door if the beer cans strewn about the yard were counted. Friends gathered around the fire pit nightly, staying until the beer ran out. The family suffered economic loss as beer was chosen above bread when funds were low.
For many years, Quissie tried to please her husband. No effort was ever reciprocated. As she held onto hope, she gave up the best years of her life. She kept the arguments, fights and pain as much concealed as possible, especially from her parents. The price she paid was dear, rarely getting to spend time with those she loved.
Her chance at becoming a mother was forever lost when one of John Boy's tirades caused her to lose the baby she was carrying. He didn't even remember the night, his addiction numbing all of his senses. It was a wound that never healed.
Over the years, Quissie worked to have peace in her life, to live her life as happy as possible without depending on her husband. It was the only path open to her, that, or divorce. There had never been a divorce in her family and that embarrassment was more than she could handle. It took years before she came to realize that he would never meet her needs and she couldn't meet his. Alcohol always came first to him, always at her expense. Until he became ill.
Cirrhosis of the liver was a steep price for John Boy to pay; it wasn't unexpected. Soon, his drinking buddies all quit dropping by. The beer cans were cleaned up from the yard for good. Pastor Carter had retired; a new Pastor made the expected visits.
John Boy's new found sobriety, imposed by the disease, caused him to exert some effort in repairing the damage done to his relationship with Quissie. He needed her more than ever for the battle ahead.
“I thought you'd be happy that I'm off the booze! Isn't that what I've heard you beg for all these years? Now's your chance, woman. You've finally won! What is it you want from me?”
“Being sober doesn't automatically solve the problems your drinking has caused, John Boy, anymore than it cures the disease that will most likely take your life. No, I didn't win. You didn't win. The devil is the only one still flying a flag.”
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