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Friday – The Golden Age, Comfort, and The Mountain

FC Barcelona v UD Almeria - La LigaCourtesy: VIP Football Collection. Lionel Messi FC Barcelona

And the week closes, so glad that we are here. Yesterday it was just wet and cold. Tonight it was chilly, and very windy. We’ve been promised warmer weather in the coming days.

Yesterday we were at St. Matthias for our weekly Thursday meeting. We got to hear stories from one of our Golden Ager’s. I’ve been seeing him around for months. Figured he had all this time and his wife is one of us as well. Last night the chair introduced him to us and he told us that he only had four years, and that he was seventy five years old.

You do the math …

I admire our old timers. They are a wealth of wisdom and love. Sometimes people come to alcohol late in life, after living a full life with decades of hard work, wives, kids and family. In our man’s case, he was sober, for the whole of his life, until his first wife was diagnosed and died as a result of Breast Cancer. A tragedy of the magnitude was the kicker that took our man into the pit of despair.

But the stars aligned and his kids were paying close attention to his deteriorating life.

In the end he ended up strapped to a bed, for ten days. Then he landed in the local rehabilitation center, that we are all familiar with. He did not take right away, he was older than all his housemates, and even older than the man who owned the place.

He got sober.

When it was time to leave, he did not know what to do, or where to go, or how to navigate into this next portion of his life, in his words, he was “scared.” By placing one foot at a time in front of the other, he did the sober dance. He hit his meetings, and did lots of service.

Promises do come true in sobriety.

It is quite the love maker of men and women.

A couple years in, being homed in a particular meeting on the West End, he met, dated, and eventually married a wonderful woman in sobriety. After such tragedy and sadness, and a trip into the pit of hell, our man survived with the help from those who knew him and loved him best, and now he is a very bright light shining for everyone to see.

He told a story about his childhood home, where they are still finding bottles and flasks of alcohol that had been hidden all over the house and basement by his father.

Which brings me to this story about my grandfather, my father’s father.

My grandparents had a huge, 2 bedroom house in Connecticut. I spent a good deal of time in this house, as I did my other grandparents, and my aunts houses.

So my father’s father was a type 3 alcoholic. A bottle stashed in every location he would sit or stand, inside and outside the house. But he was hiding a secret that nobody knew about, until after they had both died.

My father went to close the house, sell what he could, and save whatever he wanted. He has a number of vintage 78 record player, and old phonograph such and so forth.

The house had a huge basement with a root cellar for canning and storage. But the surprise was hidden stapled to the rafters underneath the flooring. Yes, he drank, copiously. But my grandfather was saving for a rainy day it seemed. He had amassed about ten grand in hundred dollar bills, in individual envelopes stapled to the underside of the basement rafters.

In total it was quite the hefty rainy day fund.

This leads us into Comfort …

Today’s reading from A.B.S.I. – Taking our Comfort

I chose the word comfort because it gives me food for thought.

As a young child, I spent a great deal of time, in places that offered comfort. Alcoholism was very alive and well in all of our lives. Amid that insanity, were oases of comfort and calm. As children we don’t usually have to worry about going without, or having too little.

I never went without, and growing up, I seemed to have everything I ever wanted, but I was not a child who demanded MORE. I can’t really put my finger on when MORE became a concept that meant anything as a young person.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

When I moved out of home out on my own, I think I began to cultivate the need for more.

I didn’t want more money, I didn’t want more things. I wanted more friends, I wanted more party, and I surely wanted more alcohol. I can’t tell you where I learned this, if it was a lesson I was taught as a young person. It just happened.

I was never comfortable drinking, because there was always something attached to my drinking. There was always a hunt or a desire. I wasn’t just drinking to be comfortable, I was drinking to be more, because I was told that the only way into the LGBT community was through the consumption of alcohol. And more if you could get it.

I started hitting mountains early on. They kept getting progressively bigger. I seemed to climb well for a while. Until I hit the proverbial Andes, or better yet, the Himalayas.

In 1994, the biggest mountain I would ever see, came into view. I would eventually climb and conquer that mountain, with the help of my guides and helpers.

After that experience, nothing would top that.

Sobriety takes work. It isn’t a cake walk by any stretch of the imagination. Sobriety is a mountain. And the only way up is by the Steps. They just keep coming, no matter how much time you have.

For a long time, we learned how to live and to live together. We learned how to manage life, money and love. It has been a long climb, that has lasted for thirteen years. Last fall, we summited that mountain.

Today, we are comfortable in every way. We are not spoiled. And we do not need “more” than we have. It took a long time to get used to having “enough” because for many years, we barely had enough. So we take nothing for granted.

Everything is where it should be.

God is in His heaven and everybody is sober another night.

More to come, stay tuned…