Live ’Til I Die: a memoir of my father’s life
(Rainwater Press, 2001) 246 pages, $14.95
In its opening pages, the final days of 39-year old Ben “Buddy” Johnson’s life are chronicled in excruciating detail through the eyes of ICU nurse Maggie Quinn. Here is the story of an alcoholic who doesn’t come out the other side—a brilliant, charismatic young man who comes of age on Chicago’s South Side in the 1940s and ‘50s, rises to prominence in his career as a trade-show executive at the Chicago Amphitheatre and McCormick Place in the 1960s, and dies horrifically of alcoholic cirrhosis in 1971, leaving a wife and two young daughters.
Thirty years later his youngest daughter sorts through the pieces of her father’s life by interviewing his boyhood friends. Through their alternately humorous and heart-wrenching stories, she learns about the man her father was before his mind and body were overcome by alcoholism. At once harrowing and hopeful, Live ‘Til I Die confronts the physical and emotional devastation wrought by chronic alcohol abuse—yet manages to offer up love, laughter, and tears while allowing a daughter to restore the memory of a father she barely knew.
“Studs Lonigan meets The Liar’s Club”
“Charts new territory in the field of addiction memoirs”