Today, in continuation of the paintings about who my dad was before the dementia from the Fractured Memories series, we’re focusing on scotch. Wink. I may be a bourbon girl, but my dad was a scotch man. So is my mom. When they traveled, they brought the bottle along with them so they wouldn’t have to go hunting for good scotch at cocktail hour in a strange city. As mentioned in the last post in this series, my dad was an alcohol and drug abuse counselor in California, so was alert to the dangers of excess consumption. I don’t think I ever saw my dad drunk, but he had a cocktail right at 5pm pretty much every day of his adult life, a glass of wine with dinner, and sometimes a “nightcap” before bed. So I had a good idea of responsible alcohol consumption. In 2006, when my dad came down for one of my art shows, he drank more than what I considered normal for him, and asked a couple socially awkward questions of my friends. I thought it was weird, but didn’t think too much about it. Then on the next visit, he drank too much at dinner and was kind of tipsy. Normal for a lot of people, but not really for my dad. It bothered me a little, but not enough to say anything. Looking back now, I think that was an early sign of the dementia. Like his appestat (like the thermostat of your appetite – it’s the function of your brain that tells you when you’re full so you should stop eating), the part of his brain that would normally say, “Nick, you’ve had enough booze,” wasn’t working properly. Thus, the overconsumption of both food and alcohol (resulting in a ton of weightloss…well, not literally a ton, but still, he gained about 60 pounds). When my dad was finally diagnosed, he cut alcohol completely out for fear that it could be contributing to his symptoms and hasten his mental decline.
Anyway, I have good memories of the pre-dementia days and cocktail hour. If it was just my family, we’d sit and listen to NPR as whoever was cooking prepped dinner. If there were guests, there’d be hilarious conversations and upbeat jazz in the background. Thinking about it, I feel physically warmer. I remember lying on the sofa with my head in my mom or dad’s lap, and they’d play with my hair and I’d hear the clink of ice in the glass when they’d take a sip. Sometimes a little condensation would cause a drop of water to fall on my cheek, and I’d get a little shiver. The smell of scotch, even though I don’t like drinking it, brings me comfort, so I created a painting as part of the series of a close-up of a bottle of it.