County Lines by Bob
Thanksgiving, a day to give thanks, the fourth Thursday of November
in this country. But is one day a year enough to give thanks for
all we've been given?
To those of us recovering from alcohol and drug addiction, every
day above ground is a reason for celebration, is a reason to give
Giving thanks for the good things in our lives is a positive affirmation,
but no great accomplishment.
Giving thanks for the bad things in our lives, or what we think
is bad at the moment, demonstrates spiritual growth.
When examined closely, every hardship in my life has resulted in
benefits far beyond my limited ability to discern the weeds of life
from the flowers in the seeds of life.
While doing 28 days in an alcohol and drug rehabilitation treatment
facility, I was served divorce papers by a short, chubby fellow
who made it past security somehow.
"I'm only doing my job,Ó he said.
"I wonder how many Nazis said the same thing in concentration
camps,Ó I replied.
Sensing my displeasure, he quickly split.
According to the papers, I had 10 days to respond, which would
require the help of an attorney.
If I left before completing treatment, I'd be responsible for
the $12,800 bill, not my employer. An added incentive to stay the
entire 28 days. I'd be released the following Friday.
I'd have one day to find an attorney to prepare a response.
What a dirty trick, I thought. My wife planned it this way. Put
me under pressure. Make me break. Send me back to drinking and using.
I thought back to my most recent outbreak of chemically-induced
A bottle of tequila. A bottle of Mad Dog. Too many drugs to note.
A brawl involving a biker gang at a strip joint. Shooting out the
lights above the entrance with a .223 from across the street.
A run from the cops. A suicide attempt. Being pulled from the
river as my car sank to the bottom. A quick trip in an ambulance.
Stitches in my head. All in one night. What an accomplishment.
What was wrong with my wife? Didn't she know I was only trying
to have a little fun? She was always giving me guff, like the time
I chopped down the back door with an ax and the time I shot eight
holes in the ceiling with a pistol. Why was she always on my case?
Wasn't I a good husband?
The night before being released, I called my girlfriend. The next
morning she drove me to my friend Mike's place, where I borrowed
his motorcycle, a 650 something or another.
I roared off on the cycle to my credit union. My wife's attorney
had frozen the savings account.
I scorched off to a bank where I'd stashed some cash. Too bad for
my wife that she didn't know about this account, I thought. But
Momma didn't raise a fool.
I withdrew $2,000 and sped off to find a lawyer.
According to an Irish saying, "Something watches over children
Something was watching over me that day. I found an attorney's
office. She was in. I showed her the divorce papers.
According to the terms of the settlement, I'd get half the value
of the house when it sold. My wife would pay the credit card bills.
I'd get my guns and a car, the one I crashed into the river. She
would pay all divorce fees. She wanted me gone, no doubt about that.
The attorney said the deal was fair. I signed the papers. She
charged me $75.
When I tried to return Mike's cycle, he told me to drive it until
I got another ride.
He asked what I was going to do about finding a place to live.
I told him I'd rent one. "Where are you?Ó he asked.
"I'm here," I said, "near the beach."
"Where else?" he asked.
"In the lobby of your motel," I said.
For the next six months, I lived cost free in a beach-side motel.
During that time I met Harold at an AA meeting. He'd been sober
a long time. He was an old-timer.
Harold said before he stopped drinking he wanted to kill himself.
But he was afraid no one would attend the funeral.
I asked Harold to be my sponsor. He said he would.
Harold practiced tough love. Feeling sorry for myself was forbidden.
No poor me, poor me, pour me another drink.
With my first Thanksgiving sober in a long time quickly approaching,
I came down with the holiday blues.
Harold sensed what was happening. He told me to be ready to go
with him on Thanksgiving. I asked where. He didn't say.
We went to a homeless shelter and dished out food. I felt good
about myself, about what I was doing. It was the best Thanksgiving
I remember spending.
Harold died of colon cancer in 1994. The funeral home was packed.
Harold wasn't afraid of dying. He believed he would go to a better
Many angels who don't know they're angels inhabit this world. Harold
was one of these angels. He's watching over me now. I'm sure of
Thank you, Harold, for teaching me the true meaning of giving
thanks and thank you for teaching me to look for the flowers of
life in the weeds of life.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570