Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Another Alcoholic Legacy

I need to be at church tomorrow at 6:30 a.m., and I have to work all day (outrageous!), then my sponsee is celebrating her 10th anniversary/birthday at my home group tomorrow night. It will be a busy day with perhaps no time for blogging.

I have been thinking about my dad today. My dad was a wonderful man. He was 40 years old when I was born, and he was quite ill. He was terribly afflicted with alcoholism and had a host of other health problems. He had his first heart attack when I was 3 years old. So many of my early memories involve my father being whisked away by ambulances, and the following death watch.

On April 15, 1965, a man came to visit at our home. I asked my mother who he was and she said he was from Alcoholics Anonymous. I said "Dad is not an alcoholic!", she said "if he isn't, I don't know who is!" Amazing that 40 years later I can remember these words verbatim. In the years to come I got to experience first hand what it is like to have a parent throw his heart and soul into AA. Our family life was entirely transformed. It was glorious.

In 1971, my mother died after a short illness. My father was quick to remarry and I was so shocked when he married a woman who drank like a fish. He insisted that she was not alcoholic.

On July 15, 1975, I happened to phone my dad and was horrified to find that he was drunk! He taken an early retirement from work that very day after his physician had told him that his heart would only last 6 months tops, and that he should get his affairs in order. He decided to drink. Later he would only tell me "resentment really IS the number one offender."

He moved his wife back to the small town in Iowa that she was from. He went with her of course, thinking he would be dead in short order. He lived, and lived, and lived and lived. Year after year after year. And he could never get sober again. He lived the most miserable existence I could ever imagine. He lived in a lovely home, with every material thing he could ever want, but he lived in drunken misery. He told me he just couldn't listen to AA members when he would from time to time reach out for help. It all sounded so hollow to him, he had said the very same things once, and here he was drunk.

He died on August 28, 1993. I am so grateful that I got to be with him in his final months. I stayed by his side day after day. No one else in my family could stand it, but I could.

I could be with my father because of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I could be with my father because I learned how to love in Alcoholics Anonymous. I learned to love from the love so freely given to me by other alcoholics. I could be with my father because I learned how to hold someone when they dirty and sick by nursing other alcoholics through their illnesses. I learned in Alcoholics Anonymous to be still, shut up, and just love.

I have often said that if this was all I ever got out of being sober, it would be worth it. Of course, that is not all I have gotten from being sober. What a miracle it is that we get to be part of the world, our families, our neighborhoods, and the workplace again. I love to sit in AA meetings and think of the people who aren't hurting today because their wives, husbands, sons, daughters, lovers, friends, neighbors, etc., are sitting sober in an AA meeting. All the pain that isn't happening when we get sober. All the people we aren't hurting. What a miracle.


Shannon said...

Thanks for sharing about your dad.. and I am so grateful for the miracles of this program that help us, just shut up and love (i thinks thats how you put it?) I know you said you will be busy today so I hope your day is a good one and Hapy birthday to your sponsor!

dAAve said...


A great story of this disease and what can happen when we're willing. Also, what can happen when we are not.


Mary Christine said...

My dad has been my best teacher I think. I wish he could have been a different kind of teacher though.

Mary Christine said...

Someone was directed to this entry by searching "married miserable". wow.

Anonymous said...

I am an alanon and a husband of an alcholic. She is sober because of AA and other things. thank you for such a beautiful share. From my side of the desease you are so right about the blessing of those whom God blesses with sobriety. I am so greatful for AA and all its members. thanks by the grace of God

Anonymous said...

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