I first met Ed nearly 26 years ago when I was newly sober. He was sober 11 years. He was 45 years old. He was a former Hells Angel. He was an ex con. He was obnoxious. I did NOT like him. I thought THEY (whoever THEY were) ought to throw him out of AA. He said things in meetings that were clearly offensive. I thought he was bad for AA as a whole. After a while I noticed that a lot of people I respected really liked him. I didn't understand that....
After I stayed sober for a year or so, I realized that a lot of people's stories involved Ed. Ed seemed to come through for people when others gave up. He was the one who would answer the phone at 3 a.m. and drive through a blizzard and sit through the night with a puking drunk. He would always have at least one drunk living on his couch. So many people got sober in his basement, it was legendary. But I still didn't talk to the man. He was pretty damn intimidating.
After I stayed sober for a year, he started to find me amusing. I purchased a 1985 Hyundai (the first year they were sold in the US), and he thought that was just high-larious! The fact that I paid over 20% interest for it added to the hilarity, of course. And when it was repossessed after I had paid probably tens of thousands of dollars, it was the funniest thing on earth to him - in fact, he still talks about it.
The night his sponsor celebrated 17 years of sobriety, he asked me to sit with him at the meeting. After we joined hands and said the Lord's prayer, he floored me when he said "I'll be here for your 17th birthday." I think I had three years of sobriety at the time - I had never even considered the idea of staying sober for 17 years prior to that. This man saying that to me just astounded me. But it was the truth! He was there for my 17th birthday, some 14 years later.
He and his girlfriend broke up and I went through some terrible difficulty at about the same time in late 1988. We were both going to lots and lots of meetings. We started going to coffee after meetings. One night he asked me to go to his house after the meeting. I knew he was just talking - knowing full well that I would say no. I decided to call his bluff. It was so funny to see this big tough guy sputtering and stuttering. And that was the start of something....
You know it is a strange relationship when it is punctuated by marriages. We both married other people - me in 1990, he in 1991 (I think), but by 1993, we were back together - in whatever way you were "together" with Ed. There would be fights when I would see another woman's bracelet on his kitchen table, etc. I don't think he ever could be faithful, it is not his nature.
He was always my friend - no matter what was going on. Even when I was married and living in Canada, I still called him. I could always talk to him in a more intimate way than I probably talk to anyone. He can always see right through me. Even tonight when I called him - he said "What's up baby?" and after a few sentences, he said "you sound really tired." yep. that's exactly what I am. He nailed it. And no one else in the world - no one - would have the nerve to call me "baby."
He's old time AA. I learned so much of it from him. The leaving a sack of groceries on an alcoholic's doorstep - anonymously. The putting a $20. bill in an envelope and slipping it under someone's door - anonymously. He even took a gas can and put gas in a girl's car every night - and she thought she had some kind of miraculous car that didn't need gas!
I will never forget one year I was so broke, the kids were still fairly young, and I couldn't afford much of a Christmas. I heard a knock at the door, and there was Ed. This big old Harley-man, standing with a Christmas tree at his side.
Or the night - on the back of the Harley with Ed. Going 80 mph on an interstate highway on a hot summer's night. Feeling a little bit dangerous. The next morning, I went to church and while running to catch the bus back home, I fell and injured myself. I thought... hmmmmm... What do I know? He always made me wonder, what do I know?
And now it seems so long ago. About ten years ago, we stopped seeing each other. We still see each other at meetings and greet each other happily. We still talk on the phone occasionally and have coffee or dinner every now and then. We've seen a couple of movies. But things change.
Oh, this probably doesn't sound like much of a love story, but it is a really good one to me. It is certainly not traditional. It is certainly not what I wanted. But it is what I got. It might be better than what I wanted.
Being sober has never been exactly what I thought it would be. It has never been exactly what I would have wanted. But I think it has always been better.
God is so good. He can write straight with crooked lines. And that is a good thing.