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The Painful Parallel Between the Film, 'Days of Wine and Roses' and My Mom and Dad's Struggle With Alcoholism

Updated on January 14, 2020
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Linda writes articles on a variety of genre's; poetry, recipes, mental health, health & wellness and personal stories about her life.

Days of Wine and Roses Debuted in 1962


Definition of Alcoholism

Full Definition of alcoholism according to Merriam Webster Dictionary

  1. 1: continued excessive or compulsive use of alcoholic drinks

  2. 2a : poisoning by alcohol b : a chronic disorder marked by excessive and usually compulsive drinking of alcohol leading to psychological and physical dependence or addiction

A Movie about Alcoholism called 'Days of Wine And Roses'

I remember the feeling of excitement when my tenth grade English teacher announced we'd be watching a movie. She said the film 'Days of Wine and Roses' was an American classic with a important message. The title sounded like we were in for a 'feel good' romantic film. How wrong I was that day in 1979 . Little did I know the movie would be a painful reminder of the darkness I was born into. The darkness and chaos that was 'alcoholism.'

Did You Ever See 'Days of Wine & Roses'

Have You Seen the Movie 'Days of Wine & Roses

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Watching the Movie becomes a Painful Experience

Unfortunately, the movie was not the romantic film I hoped it would be. In fact, as we got further and further into it, I felt very agitated and had trouble sitting still in my chair. I was becoming overly conscious of my breathing which was becoming labored. I felt light-headed and worried I might pass out. I felt self-conscious, like everyone in the room was watching me gasp for air. I was able to watch the movie to the end, but it was a painful experience that took every ounce of strength and energy I could muster.

Why the Movie was so Distressful for me

As an adult, I now know that my emotional and physical reaction to this movie was because it hit too close to home. The married couple in the story was a painful reflection of my mom and dad's battle with alcoholism. The movie starts out with Clay (played by Jack Lemmon) meeting and courting a very beautiful secretary named Kirsten (played by Lee Remick). Clay is already a big drinker when he meets her and introduces Kirsten to social drinking. They eventually get married and have a daughter named Debbie. The rest of the film is painful to watch as they both spiral into full blown alcoholism and ruin their lives. Clay is eventually able to sober up by the end of the film, but Kirsten admits she can't live without alcohol. They go their separate ways because they know that staying together is unhealthy and would inevitably cause Clay to relapse and continue their vicious cycle.

Why the Movie Hit so Close to Home

My twin sister and I are the youngest of five children. By the time we were born, mom and dad were full-blown alcoholics. I saw and experienced things in my childhood that a young girl should never see. There are still certain events I have never shared with anyone except my twin sister. Mom and Dad were a lot like the couple in the movie. They had everything going for them aside from the addiction. My beautiful mother was a flight attendant for North Central Airlines back in the 60's. Dad, being a WWII veteran, was working as a pilot for Northwest Airlines. Eventually North Central and Northwest Airlines merged, and that's when my parents met and later married. My mom and dad both liked to party which spiraled out of control early on in their marriage. My father, like Clay in the movie, would eventually sober up before his death in 1997. Tragically, like Kirsten, my mother could not stop drinking and died at the young age of thirty-nine. Dad had stints of sobriety here and there, and went through treatment several times. By the time dad was in his sixties, dad had sobered up for good. I had many good years with my father and was able to forgive and find healing.

Alcoholism affects the Family System

Mom and Dad before their five kids came along
Mom and Dad before their five kids came along | Source

Pain of Alcoholism

Has your Life been Affected by the Disease of Alcoholism

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DVD~Days of Wine and Roses

Days of Wine and Roses Video

© 2014 Linda Rogers


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