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My Alcoholic Mother Died and All I Got Was This Starbucks Mug

I tend to worry about the mug breaking as it is truly the only thing I have that brings me closer to her.

By Melissa SteussyPublished 3 years ago 4 min read
My Alcoholic Mother Died and All I Got Was This Starbucks Mug
Photo by Vanesa Giaconi on Unsplash

I have this pink and green Starbucks mug. It looks mosaic or somewhat like bathroom tile. I love it. It’s my favorite mug for a lot of reasons, but most importantly because my mom and I got it while in Seattle in 2004. We are both from Washington, but lived about 30 mins from the city so going downtown was a fun adventure for us.

We had taken my young son down to the waterfront to check out some old shops that my mom had liked going to when she was younger.

My mom wouldn’t drive on the freeway and had suffered from alcoholism and mental illness for a lifetime, but there were rare occasions when we could do something together and I know it brought her joy to spend time with me and her grandson.

I remember being in the Starbucks and seeing the mug. I liked it and she offered to buy it.

My mom died at 55 in 2009 of alcoholism, but I still always choose that mug and feel a connection to my deceased mother through it. I feel like she can look down at me and feel that I am choosing her. That may sound silly as it is only a mug, but it feels valid and real. There wasn’t much of a connection between us as being a daughter of an alcoholic is a lonely road. I usually fell far behind her alcoholic boyfriends and drink of choice, but I knew she loved me and was proud of me even though her body and mind had been overtaken by her addiction.

I tend to worry about that mug breaking as it is truly the only thing I have that brings me closer to her. She also had given me an old denim patchwork skirt that she wore in the ’70s which is pretty cool, but it doesn’t bring me joy like the mug.

When I take the mug down from the shelf I get this feeling that my mom knows that I’ve chosen her. I feel a connection to her. We weren’t very connected while she was alive and the relationship was a struggle so this feeling brings me peace, but sadness too.

I think how can I only have a mug? As much as I appreciate it, it feels like such a small piece of her life when she bought that mug for me.

Is that really all I have?

I have to think hard and make my brain pin down moments that we special or sacred in my relationship with my mom and the sad thing is I can’t. Isn’t it true that our brains are really good at remembering the bad, but the good go by and can’t be recalled?

What I really learned from my mother is not to drink alcohol. Not to become an alcoholic (It’s too late for me, but luckily I’ve been sober a while) and how it feels to be a child who is unseen and loved, but not nurtured.

In a lot of ways, I learned what not to do. I learned to keep blinders off in my parenting. I learned to try to have empathy when my children are upset and how to be present and listen. I learned to try to stay calm as I know what it feels like to be hit, smacked, and ridiculed.

I learned to make sure my children know they come before my beverages and I learned what grief truly feels like.

I’ve learned what it means to be strong. I’ve learned what it means to overcome and I’ve learned what it means to be alone.

I don’t relate to people who have had loving, kind relationships with their mothers. I don’t relate to the sweet little grannies that bake cookies and take their daughters shopping. I had more of a hard-core momma. My momma smoked crack and did coke. She shared with me about taking acid while I was in my 20’s and other nasty habits that I will let rest with her.

My mom lived in fear and was too scared to drive on the freeway. She was paranoid and to this day I wish she could have at least gone to the doctor to see what was ailing her. Why her mental illness was so great. Why she needed to drink to cope.

I learned as a child how it feels to feel unsafe around adults who had been drinking, which always turned into fighting and drunk driving.

I learned how toxic alcohol and drugs were.

My mom didn’t drink fancy wine. She drank Carlos Rossi out of a big jug. I think I know how it felt to be her sometimes. Just that feeling after a hard day of work, wanting to sit down and erase all of your cares and worries. Just to veg out and let the alcohol take over. To finally be able to breathe.

After work, she would clean up around our 2 bedroom low-income apartment filled with the smoky haze. Then she would park her ass in a chair in front of the TV and drink and smoke while she watched. I would get home from school and get ready to head to my afterschool job.

Some moms might leave their daughters a hope chest or some china. Some moms may leave their daughters some ethics and morals. Some words of wisdom. No, not mine.

My mom died alone in a hotel room, an alcoholic death at 55 years of age while I was pregnant with my second child.

They offered to send me a packet with her wallet, which carried a 20 dollar bill and a photo of my son. They offered to send me the rings she was wearing. I never got the package and I have to believe it’s better this way.

I’ve got my mug and that’s all I need.

Originally published on Medium in Inspired Writer


About the Creator

Melissa Steussy

Author of Let Your Privates Breathe-Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and Family Dysfunction. Available at The Black Hat Press:



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