Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We all Need Hope

There is a lot of heartache in this world.  And, in this community in particular, we have seen, heard, and personally felt a lot of heartache.  So, today, I wanted to share a story of hope with you.  The Dad is a horse vet.  He sees all kinds of horses.  There are beautiful dark warm bloods, thoroughbreds, quarter horses, arabians, morgans, paints, ponies, miniature horses, draft horses, donkeys and mules and many others.

They all have owners....(okay, that is another post).  But, many owners aren't all that equipped to own a horse.  Horses are a big responsibility.  I often say that there are horse people,  there are competitors or collectors of horses and there are folks that like the idea of having a horse.  But, few really and truly just love the animal.

I've got a friend who is to the core, a horseman or maybe horsewoman.  She loves and appreciates them for the creature that God created them to be.  Yesterday afternoon she called in tears because she went to look at a horse to purchase for a lesson horse for her farm and what she found, was pure unadulterated abuse and neglect.  She wanted to know how to go about reporing these folks to the proper authorities.  Later that evening, still in tears, she called to let me know that she had just purchased the horse in the poorest condition.  Her heart is big.

I went to the clinic when they brought him in and this poor guy was surrounded by my friend and five other people from her farm.  The thought that came to my mind was this poor guy went from being in a tiny 4X6 stall with no hay or clean water to having his own personal village of humans to love and care for him. 

This 16.1 hand horse weighed 966 pounds.  His affect was very dull and depressed.  He had sores in his mouth because of the poor quality hay and because his teeth needed a dental.  But, his eyes were so kind.  And, he had not given up.

We keep a big glass jar of peppermints on our counter at the clinic.  When the horse's procedure is over we give him a treat.  My friend opened the jar and began to rattle the celophane wrapper and his eyes lit up and he began to move towards her.  He had been given treats before.  He remembered.

Tonight he can rest in a big stall.  He gets all the hay he can eat.  He will begin to get grain and water and fresh grass.  But, more than that he will be loved.  Afterall, that's all that we all really need right?

I'm posting his picture here, not to shock but so that you will see a starting point.  By the way, my friend looked up his tattoo ( all registered thoroughbreds have a tattoo on their inside upper lip) and found that he shares her daughter's birthday.  As Leroy Jethro Gibbs says on NCIS, "there are no coincidences."

Today I am thankful for the ability to witness the kindness of others.  I am thankful that I had my family together tonight for dinner and a rosary.  I pray for healing for all of our addicted loved ones and as always, a prayer for the soul of Henry.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Today's Parable


Ever mindful of my life and the lessons before me, I pray that I don't miss the opportunity to learn in the way that Jesus taught us....through the parables in our everyday lives which serve to teach and remind us of who and what we are and what we are called to do.

I sat a lone in my hot attic on this 92 degree day with sweat pouring down the center of my back.  Nineteen years of memories are held here.  I am emptying it in a leap of faith that if I begin the process of moving, the buyers will come.

As I empty the contents, I am thinking of how overwhelming this task will be.  I come up with the plan to :

1.  Get rid of the garbage
2.  Sell that which could be of use to others
3.  Keep what is still of use or a memento

I sit here in the floor looking at the girls American Girl dolls, favorite DVDs, books but not my sons camera, X-Box, computer or guitar because they were sold for drugs.  Downstairs (in the garage below) I hear my daughter sorting the garage sale items, jamming to one of my I tunes;  a favorite from when I was just a young girl...

"Got on board a westbound 747
Didn't think before deciding what to do
Ooh, that talk of opportunities
TV breaks and movies
Rang true
Sure rang true

Seems it never rains in southern California
Seems I've often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California
But girl don't they warn ya
It pours, man it pours

Out of work, I'm out of my head
Out of self respect, I'm out of bread
I'm underloved, I'm underfed, I wanna go home
It never rains in California
But girl don't they warn ya
It pours, man it pours"
And then I see this cross pendant laying on the floor right next to what looks like a "straw" used for snorting drugs...

Will you tell the folks back home I nearly made it
Had offers but didn't know which one to take
Please don't tell 'em how you found me
Don't tell 'em how you found me
Gimme a break, give me a break
Seems it never rains in southern California
Seems I've often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California
But girl don't they warn ya
It pours, man it pours"
I think to myself, I could take every last item to the dumpster and never look back.  I think I will mourn, again and again.  Until I can relax and surrender what is not to be, what never was, what the road ahead will not include. 
But, today I will throw away the trash both in this attic and in my life.  I will not hold onto what only gathers dust and begins to decay.  I will only take with me, what is of use.
When I look back on the empty space left behind, I will see that cross and that straw and know that I will choose to throw away the straw and hold onto the hope of that cross.  I will not let fear cause me to be too afraid to let go of what might be by refusing to see what is and just deal with it.  In place of the chaos that was my life, I see an openness to what might be.
Realizing how little control I have I will toss pride on the top of the garbage heap along with old expectations and open my eyes and ears to what should be and learn with God's grace, to be grateful.
Today, I feel blessed to have an empty clean attic.  I am thankful for the courage to let so much.  I pray for my son and yours to learn the lessons that God has in store for him/her today and I say a prayer for Henry.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My New Normal

I met with some friends over the weekend, from high school.  We are planning our 30th high school reunion.  What is it about 30 yrs that seems so old?  They began asking me how my kids are and what they are up to and what I've been up to.......I never know how much to say or where to go with that question.

Today I went to the pool.  I was enjoying the sunshine reading Melody Beattie's newest book, Playing it by Heart.   When I got in the pool to cool off, I ran into a mom that I hadn't seen since my son was in about the fourth or fifth grade.  Her youngest son was in his class.  She too, asked about my kids.  I learned that her youngest just graduated college and is about to start his masters degree. 

She asked what I was up to and I said, "just reading and enjoying the sunshine."  She asked what I was reading and I said , "oh, Melody Beattie's newest book."  She said she didn't know who she was but her friend did.  I finally said, " she writes about addiction and codependency."  This is where there is the awkward silence until she masterfully changes topics. 

I used to have such a heavy heart when these situations arose.  Now, I really don't but I do hate it when others feel awkward and I don't know how much to really get into.  It's just hard to know how to proceed. 

Just how much to do you tell?  How far do you go?  I know it depends on the situation but sometimes, like at the pool, I get into it without meaning to.  This life is my new normal.  But, for others it is not. 

I really like the new book, by the way.  I got a call from my son who pleasantly surprised me by telling me that he had met up with a friend from rehab and had gone to an AA meeting.  It was a good day;  a nice surprise.

Today I am thankful for the growth that doesn't have me feeling sorry for myself.  I am grateful for the wisdom of others.  I am thankful for those who care.  I pray for my son and all of your sons and daughters, husbands and wives or friends, that they may realize God's will for them and have the courage to follow their dreams.  And I say a prayer for Henry.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I love you, Daddy...

Tomorrow the family will drive out of state to my father-in-laws house to cook for him and spend the day in celebration of Father's Day.  If my Dad were alive he would have been 90 years old.  I can't tell you how much I miss him.  And, it really surprises me.  I always loved my dad but I wasn't as close to him as I was to my mother.  But, when he died, it was if a big part of him stayed with me. 

My Dad's father was Henry, the alcoholic in this blogs title.  Daddy was so feisty and sweet, all rolled up together.  He was tough but honest and willing to give so many others a shot that they might not have gotten otherwise. 

Later in his life, he began buying rental properties.  They were little, inexpensive homes in need of love, money and some elbow grease.  We teased him a lot calling him the slum lord.  But, he would take these homes and clean them up, repair what needed repairing, give them new paint and floors and rent or sell them to folks that might not have been able to come up with a down payment or bank financing. 

To this day, I  run into people who will tell me that they wouldn't have ever owned a home, had it not been for my father.  I am still so proud of him.  Because my lovely sweet Dad, grew up with an abusive alcoholic father that sent him to work instead of school and took that money to drink, and as the son of that sharecropper he never had a home of his own until he married my mother and he knew what that meant to someone and he gave back. 

So today on the eve of Father's Day I want to offer up prayers of thanksgiving for my Dad.  I am so thankful for the man he was and the lessons he left me.  I pray for our sons and daughters, that they might have healing.  And, I also pray for the soul of Henry.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Little Lost....

I went to the Homeward Bound graduation tonight and was shocked to see that one of the young ladies that had been in our AlAnon class was the daughter of one of the ladies in my AlAnon class.  It was so odd to realize that the young girl who began the class in tears telling us all how hopeless she was is  the daughter we've heard a mom pour her heart out about all of this time.

One of the former inmates spoke who had been convicted of vehicular homicide.  It was a very sad yet uplifting story.  And, an outcome that most parents of addicts have worried about from time to time.  Today  I realize that when I speak to friends with concerns about their own kids, I do so by reacting to my own situation.  That's me in a nutshell...parenting out of fear.

My girls had a long, sobering discussion with me tonight about how my parenting caused them to try to become financially independent, so that they didn't have to live in a dictator-like existence.  They were very kind and careful but felt the need to share how hard it was growing up in our house. 

My son called and the wake of problems from addiction seems to never end.  Days like today make me feel such shame and loss for all of the past.  I thought I had loved so much and yet it wasn't the way I made them feel at all.

I keep praying for our sons and daughters...all of them.  And, I pray for guidance.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

High on Summertime...

I love summertime.  I love getting hot and sweaty and taking a cool shower and then sitting down to read.  I love swimming and taking long walks.  I love the fresh fruits and vegetables.  I love a summer storm.  I love, love, love a porch swing and pray that I will have one in the next house.  I love that somehow I tend to work around the afternoon so that I have that time to read or pray or just think.  It brings me such peace.

Last night my son wanted to come home to pick up some of his things.  So, we allowed him to have dinner, shower, pick up some more of his clothing and then go home. 

It was ok.  It felt right for him to go his own home.  And, when he came into the kitchen to catch me alone to tell me that he was 10 days sober, I was shocked that I didn't need to know.  I was shocked that I didn't instantly have a mind racing with ideas for how he might maintain this new found sobriety.
God's grace.......

Thanks be to good for His marvelous grace, my son's growth, this lovely weather and the progress my family both individually and collectively have made.  I pray for continued direction in what He would have me to do so that I might do the work of His service.  I pray for healing in all of our loved ones and I say a prayer, as always for you, Henry.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday's Mirth

When you intentionally mark the good, you tend to find more.    I am so thankful for joy in my life.    I could easily say that my best friend, in and of herself, brings me great joy.  And, while I'm not trying to always poke fun at her, she does give me those doubled over belly laughs that are too good not to share.

For the sake of anonymity I've decided to call her Lucy.  Saturday, my daughter and I were picking up lunch when Lucy called.  From the tone of her voice, I could tell that something was wrong.   She is a very hands on mother of 8 very busy children. 

Lucy, who is just about to embark upon a new generation, was shopping for the family;  baseball items for the small boys and grocery  items for the rest of the gang when her husband called her.  During the conversation she decided to visit the restroom so she parked her cart outside and went to the restroom.  As she  exited the room something caught her eye......a urinal. 

Then,  her eyes scanned the room to find a man.  It utter panic (she can really go places during panic), she ducked her head and shielded her eyes in an effort to afford the poor bloke at the urinal a little dignity.  Hurriedly,  she scurried outside, grabbed her cart, without any memory of where she was needing to go next.  When she felt that she was safely out of the sight of urinal guy, she looked down and realized that she had taken an empty cart from outside the restroom.

Back she went, bobbing and weaving, hyper vigilant for a urinal guy sighting.  Finally she reaches her cart,  finishes up and gets into a checkout line.  She was almost home free when she heard whispers coming from behind  her.  As she began to slowly and carefully look behind her she felt that perhaps there was pointing and glancing her way.......

By this point I couldn't breathe.  I couldn't speak.  And, tears were starting to trickle down my face.  A gentleman across from me was not so happy that I was "party of one".  But, I didn't care.  It was a  minute of unexpected merriment. 

To Lucy, I say thank you for comedic relief that you provide.  It could have been worse.  When my grandmother, who wore those really thick glaucoma glasses, went in the men's room in some small restaurant in a tiny Mississippi town years ago and saw a man, she gave him a lecture about how indecent it was for him to be in there. 

I talked with my son tonight.  He is beginning to sound more reasonable.  He knows that he probably can't come home again.  But, he was thankful for some of the fellas he works with and so am I.  I am thankful for friends, mine and his.  I'm thankful for those who don't judge.  I pray for our sons and daughters and I say a prayer for Henry.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Good Stuff

If you're reading this blog, country music fan or not, you will appreciate this song and it's lyrics.  It makes me cry every time I listen.  But, it got me to thinking that I need to mark the good stuff.  So, starting tomorrow, I'm gonna try to post the good stuff of my life on Mondays. ....just a hopeful start to the week. 
Today, I say a prayer of thanksgiving for those who help to articulate words that we might not have but can certainly appreciate.  I pray for our sons and daughters to hear God's voice so that they may be able to fight this disease.  And, I say a prayer for Henry. 

Friday, June 1, 2012


I must introduce you all to this Jesuit (Society of Jesus) priest that is A-MAZ-ING!!!  His name is Father Greg Boyle or "G" as most ex gang members in Los Angeles call him.  He has started this rehab or sorts to help young gang members to become productive members of society. 

Why, you might ask, are you talking about gang rehab on a blog dedicated to addiction?  Well, it is because, in MY opinion, many of the things important to the healing of these kids are also important to the healing of our kids. 

Father G talks about the "nomatterwhatness" no matter what you have done, you are loved and are worthy of love.  He offers hope and a chance to those who may have never had either. 

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Today, I say a prayer of thanksgiving for examples like Father G.  I am thankful for hope.  I pray, fervently for our sons and daughters and I say a prayer for Henry.