Our mother, Susan Mayer Oliver, 54, lost her battle with alcoholism on 11 June 2017. She was born in May 1963 in San Antonio, Texas and was preceded in death by her brother, Shelby Joseph Mayer. Susan was highly successful, working as a Marketing Analyst at USAA for over 30 years. However, despite her often zealous and confident exterior, Mom harbored a sinister side that severely affected her and her family on a daily basis. As we became more aware of the reality of her disease and how it affected us all, we tried every tactic in the book to help her in order to ultimately help us as a family.
One of the great tragedies of alcoholism is the victimization of the families. Through our many attempts to support her, we were suffering ourselves. There were times we hated our mother for what she would put us through, times we wished she wasn’t in our life – but despite all this we always found ourselves clinging onto the hope that one day she would be sober and all would be as it was when we were children.
The truth is that beneath her charming wit and good humor laid a deeply troubled soul. We have come to realize that only through her death would she escape the cruel and unwavering grip of alcoholism. A part of us knew that it would only be a matter of time until we received “that phone call.” But nothing can really prepare you for when it comes. We believe by telling her story perhaps one person who may be experiencing something similar can be inspired and moved to take action within themselves for positive change. It would be undignified to her for us to paint a picture to you of her life being a perfect fairy tale. We wish to honor her through the reality of her life, and what it can teach us. To her fellow comrades in this fight, may her story sit within you as a constant reminder of the knife edge many of you are living on. May it help you fight off any demons you have left to battle. There is always someone out there who wants to help, we encourage you to do what Mom didn’t, to open your hearts and truly accept it.
It has been through her struggle that we have become the people we are today. Despite possibly thinking the contrary, Mom, you have taught us more than you could possibly know. You gave us strong morals, respect, and an amazing work ethic. It is through your mistakes in life that we have been able to experience such profound perspective of all that you struggled with on a daily basis. Even now in your death you have humbled and calmed us.
With her passing, Mom has left us with a very special gift. She has evoked in us a heightened sense of love and compassion for those we care about who are still living. A burning desire to be a better, more empathetic person and to truly appreciate those who are our family and friends and the time we spend with them. Despite all the darkness that comes with the nature of her death, we really feel that there is so much good to be taken from it all. There really is a light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel, a light that on June 11th Mom finally found and graciously stepped into. Despite her being alone for a long time in many ways, her family and friends were always by her side. I hope she knows that despite everything, she did not die alone. Our hearts are broken, yet remain warm knowing that her suffering is over. After a very long struggle for us all, she is finally at peace, and we can be too.
Many of you have very fond memories of our mother. We look forward to hearing those from you over the next days and weeks. But we encourage you to have a drink in Mom’s honor and celebrate her life. She would want those mourning to wear something bright and remember that this is just another reminder that behind the suffering, behind the alcoholism, deep down, was a woman who had such a capacity to love and be loved. Unfortunately, on this particular occasion, she was left with only one way out. Our mother’s death was her cure and salvation. Mom, you lost yourself along the way, but your pain is over. May you remain in peace with our love for you a constant reminder of who you really are and who you shall be remembered as: like the rest of us a flawed human being, an imperfect wife, but still the only mother we ever would have wanted. We love you and we will miss you.
We are asking for contributions so that we can make a donation to the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) on behalf of our mother in the hopes that we may help save someone else.
An estimated 5.3 million women in the United States drink in a way that threatens their health, safety, and general well-being. Fewer women than men drink, however, among the heaviest drinkers, women equal or surpass men in the number of problems that result from their drinking. For example, female alcoholics have death rates 50 to 100 percent higher than those of male alcoholics, including deaths from suicides, alcohol-related accidents, heart disease and stroke, and liver cirrhosis.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), supports about 90 percent of the nation’s research on alcohol use and its effects. The goal of this research is to better understand the causes and consequences of alcohol abuse and addiction, and to find new ways to prevent and treat alcohol problems.
Finding out what makes some women drink too much is the first step to preventing alcohol problems in women. Scientists are studying the role of genetics and family environment in increasing or decreasing the risk of alcohol problems. They also are studying other features of a woman’s life, such as the type of job she has; whether she combines family and work; life changes like marriage, divorce, and the birth and departure of children; infertility; relationship and sexual problems; and ethnic background.
Scientists want to know why women in general seem to develop long-term health problems from drinking more quickly than men. Researchers are examining issues like alcohol and breast cancer in women, and the extent to which alcohol may lower the risk of heart disease, and possibly osteoporosis, in some women.
Finally, research is helping determine how to identify women who may be at risk for alcohol problems, and to ensure that treatment will be effective.
How will donations to NIAAA be used?
Although the NIAAA is a federally funded organization and not a fund-raising organization, the U.S. Congress has authorized NIAAA to accept donations and bequests to support its research mission. Donations to the NIAAA are deposited in a Gift Fund account, which is separate from the funding NIAAA receives from Congress.
Projects supported through the Gift Fund may vary from year to year depending on the needs of the Institute. The following examples are the types of activities that may be supported through the Gift Fund:
· Research studies, including clinical research in our laboratories
· Printing of pamphlets and brochures about alcohol use disorders for the general public
· Support of research conferences, symposia, and workshops of special importance to alcohol research
· Purchase of equipment and supplies for laboratories
- Gail Lamb
- Jerry and Jodi Healy
- LCA Friends
- Emilio Gonzalez
- David Oliver
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