I received a phone call a few weeks ago about a family member passing on. He was my stepdad, and he was sober probably close to 40 years. Joe was incredibly active over the years; having had many sponsees, and although he was a role model in that arena, he never saw me in the halls of Alcoholics Anonymous. My mother and he divorced before that happened. It was always clear to me that he cherished two things in life; his sobriety and his seven children. Although he struggled, as we all do sometimes, having our ups and downs, he loved his children unconditionally.
I have to admit it was a bit odd growing up with someone who’d bring detoxing addicts into the house, but I wasn’t afraid. It was part of who he was, and I knew he would never bring anyone into the house who’d put my life or health in jeopardy. I learned first-hand what an alcohol detox was; the withdrawal symptoms, such as; shaking, hallucinations, pain, and desperation was a great motivator to keep me from drinking too much, or at least often when I was a kid.
Joe’s commitment to others in the AA program was admirable, and I found myself, although not sober, working in an alcohol detox and drug detox for the homeless when I first graduated college. I far from wanted to be in the field of recovery, or even in recovery, and my substance abuse issues hadn’t taken hold. But I wanted, in some way to help people like he did. He was tough, firm, but so incredibly loving, caring and generous with his heart and time.
Shortly after the phone call I jumped on line and looked up his obituary. I knew everything on there, including his huge family of seven children, but I didn’t know how large that side of his family had grown. You see, the divorce wasn’t a good one, most aren’t, and sometimes children and young adults get caught up in the drama, which makes it feel impossible to bridge the gap at a time in the future.
I’ve taken a few moments and sent a note to one of his children, a step-sister, or is that ex-step sister now? It’s been many years since I’ve spoken with her as well. I hope she gets it and knows I am thinking of all of them.