A Year Later

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My birthday was the 31st of July. The morning of my birthday, when I got up and out of bed, I was still alive. I saw my doctor a couple of days before my birthday, and once again, I thanked him for keeping me alive another year.

This incarnation of my blog reached it’s First Anniversary. Thanks to cowards and their dishonesty. People would rather eat dirt, than be honest.

Without my doctor, where would I be right now ? I Don’t Know …

The people that mattered, celebrated my birthday, each in their own special ways.

A week has passed.

This is what I know right now.

I really do not care if people like me or not. I really don’t care what people think about me, what I wear in public, or how they perceive me.

I know who my friends are. And right now, I know, for sure, that most people, do not care for my brand of sobriety or lifestyle.

I’ve learned how to be Honest. I’ve learned how to be Vulnerable in public. I’ve seen how other people react to my honesty. They don’t like it at all. And would rather eat dirt, than to say anything directly to me. And that’s ok with me.

I don’t need validation from anyone but God. I also know, that if I need to hear God, I know where to go to hear His voice.

The other day, we talked about Acceptance. Page 417, in the Big Book. Acceptance is the answer to all my problems. That’s what the book says.

I know, from years of listening to people SPOUT the wisdom of Acceptance, that some think that Acceptance, says that I have to accept people who use the Looser Line that says: Well that’s just who I am.

They use Acceptance like a Get Out Of Jail Free Card.

It allows alcoholics who don’t care about personal growth or empathy for others, to just sit in the place of being an ASSHOLE.

There are so many assholes out there right now, it is astonishing.

All I want out of this life, is to be Honest. To know how to do the Right Thing, even if it goes against every bone in my body. I work very hard to be a good human being to everyone. Even when much of the people I see, DON’T.

They don’t care about anyone but themselves. People are so consumed with the clothing I wear, and sit in judgment so deep, that it makes me sick.

One of my friends hit a First tonight.

He mentioned Brene Brown. He too, has listened to every one of her talks, and read several of her books, like I have over the past two years. He did it in just a few months.

But he spoke language I Understood and Identified with.

I don’t trust a whole lot of people, that I cannot throw very far. And that’s ok with me. I might not be connected to certain people, like some of my friends are, but if I have to compromise my standards and values, for someone in particular, to want to work with me, I’d rather go it alone.

Because the choices in Men of Sober, Good Standards, LONG Sober, are very few and far between. I know who to talk to. And I know who to avoid.

I’ve lived another year of experiences. Some of those experiences were good, some were not. People don’t have to like me. And I have grown to accept that.

I’m a strange Gay Man of fifty-one years, twenty-five years living with AIDS. And almost seventeen years sobriety. No one has the same life qualifications and identifications.

Once again, I know who my friends are.

And for the moment, that will have to suffice, until conditions change on the ground.

I do what needs to be done. I serve my community. I help my friends. I am kind.

I know my values and my morals. I may not always know the right thing, but like my friend tonight, I trust the little voice in my head more today, than I have in the past.

If it Doesn’t Feel Right, then Don’t Do It.

July 31st … 2018

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I got up this morning with a plan. I jumped in the shower and got dressed and headed downstairs to go visit my friend Dee at her beauty salon, just up the block from home.

I figured that if I stayed home, I would have just gone back to bed and spent the day sleeping, (which, I did not).

She had a client so I hung about and drank my cup of coffee, until she finished and we went and stood outside under the trees for a bit, until her next client arrived. I got a bunch of texts from people spread all over the world, and from Megan, Rafa’s soon to be fiancée … And his mom in Brazil.

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I got a book, from my best friend in the post this afternoon. The 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson. He’s a thinker and he is a shit stirrer too. Professor Peterson is a lightening rod for sure. But Rafa likes him and thought to send me a birthday present and introduce the book into our Sober Circle Reading List.

I Instagrammed a photo of the book, and one of my friends, here in town is reading the book right now. There are three people I know reading it. Rafa, Jonathan and then me. But before I can read this book, I have to finish Guns, Germs and Steel by Derek Diamond.

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After a bit of lunch my Elder Best Friend Spencer called from Utah. He is studying at Brigham Young University. He plays the banjo. He sang me the Birthday Song playing his banjo. I saw this clip art on Twitter the other night and sent it to  him.

The photo at the top of the post is of Elder Spencer, (on the right) his best friend Elder John (in the middle) and a fellow Elder, I do not know. They are at the Salt Lake Temple.

Lots of people sent me wishes on Face Book. My young friend Noah, turned 18 today as well. He is the son of one of my Mentor friends in London Ontario. I have watched Noah, his brother Zach and his sister Dahlia grow up. Zach is the youngest of the three young adults now. We celebrated his birthday with his mom on Face Book.

We will have a simple dinner and call it a night.

Thanks everybody.

Fifty One … Made It Another Year

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“… They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.”

We Agnostics, page 51.

Tonight, we ended the month of July, with me in the chair, and we talked about God, Prayer, and Faith.

One over arching comment I heard from my friends is that for many of them, the thought of God, the practice of prayer, the admission of humility and the profession of faith, is a natural part of who they are.

They don’t necessarily “think” about God or Prayer, or Humility, or faith, every minute of the day. Those constituent parts of who they are present in everything that they do, every day. These parts are, in and of themselves, separate, but are unified in a single thought … Presence and Service.

The old story rose in my mind as I sat and listened. And I told it again. Even if my friends have heard me tell this story over and over.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away … Cue the Star Wars Theme …

God has been an integral part of my life, for the whole of my life. Memere and Grammy made sure that I knew of God, and that God loved me.

Memere, one day, when I was very young, took me to church and presented me to God, standing on the altar of that church, where she had a conversation with God, about me.

That visual is burned into the back of my mind.

I served God to the best of my ability, to the extent that in my second year of college, after high school, I ended up in Seminary, studying to be a priest.

I devoted my life to God, in every way possible. But I was not like the others. I did not do evil things that the others had done. I never broke my vows to Mother Church, during that year, and I thought that would get me by.

It didn’t.

At the end of that year, the rector, whom I had issues with personally, said to me that I was not “one of them.” Therefore, it was his decree that I would be told to leave the seminary.

Talk about being resentful and angry about God.

My alcoholism took off full-bore. And lasted until my 26th year of life. I told God to go to hell, that I did not need Him. Took back my will and my life, and pursued life.

I had come out of the closet not long after.
That only added to my alcoholic woes.

On one morning, as I sat in that bar nursing a drink at 7 a.m. fate strolled in to greet me and I danced. That morning would be the last morning.

What I did not know would eventually almost kill me.

On July 8th 1994, I got those words. “You are going to die.” A few days later I called Todd home from vacation and told him I was going to die.

As God as my witness … I may have turned my back on God. But God, in His wisdom, got my attention once again.

Never be thankful for a terminal disease.

Sometimes a fatal disease is just that, a fatal disease.

I took my life in my own hands that morning, and did what I did. And I am the one to blame for my misfortune. It is my fault.

God got my attention. Then He stepped out of Heaven and soothed my soul.

What Todd did for me, I will never forget, will always be grateful for, and remember as long as I breathe air. I will tell his story as many times as I can, because if this story dies. I die with it.

It is the power of God that makes this story critical.

Todd promised me, if I turned my will and my life over to him and trusted him with my life, that he would see to it that I survived. I may have kicked and screamed for a while, but that did not last very long.

As my friends died around me, one after another, and every day that I lived, is a testament to the Power of Todd, Read: GOD.

On the day I said goodbye to him, standing next to his car, as he got into that car, and shut the car door, he forgot to give me one small piece of information,

“What was I supposed to do now.”

I lament that he did not give me that much-needed piece of information. We were so caught up in goodbye that I don’t think that thought crossed his mind, in that moment.

When he drove off, my life drove off with him.

I could not make it alone. I had no idea what to do or how to do it.

All of the people who were still alive, already made the trek West. I was the only one who stayed. I stayed because of my heart. I stayed because I was sure, my father would die, and I would make my stand and go to my mother, and reclaim her from my father, and care for her for the rest of my days.

Obviously, that plan never happened.

My parents would rather eat dirt, than accept me as a human worthy of love.

On January 7th 2018, my father died. I got that one wrong.

My mother spit in my face, once again, saying to me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. This is the very same woman I was hedging my bets of saving and being part of her life.

Got that one wrong too.

I did drink again.

At the end of my drink binge, I called out to God. Begged Him for help.

I prayed three prayers in order of necessity.

  • A hangover
  • An Alcoholic
  • And Get me to a Meeting

God did those very things for me, in the order I needed them, miraculously.

I was on the return arc, when Troy walked into my business and his first words to me were: I did not drink today …

Troy was that blessed alcoholic whom God sent. Troy took me to my next, First Meeting. I stayed for the later 10 pm meeting and met the folks who would bring me back to life again. Those original folks are still in my life to this day.

God granted me a few dispensations. And created a number of miracles.

I ended up crossing the border, attaining Canadian Citizenship, I am still sober, almost seventeen years later. And had you told me, back in Miami, back in the day, that my life could have looked like it does today, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy.

God moved heaven and earth. And God’s saving grace has made me whole.

There IS a GOD, and I am not God.

Although, I did meet God. I spoke to God. I worked for God. I served God, every day I walked into work and served those men, who are all dead now, until they all took their last breaths on this earth. I was with many of them. When their families tossed them into the gutter and into the streets, I was there, with a few friends, who cared for the sick, until they eventually died, in our arms.

None of my friends died alone. Not One Of Them.

Nobody knows the intricacies of this story. Nobody really cares, even the gay men I know today. They know nothing about AIDS or Living with AIDS. They really don’t care for my stories, because they cannot identify.

If my story dies, I will die with it.

Which is Why, till the day that I take my last breath, I will utter the name of Todd and thank God for saving my life, all these years.

I made it to 51.

Let’s PARTY !!!

We Went to the BEACH …

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It was a fabulous weekend in Ottawa. I love getting on a bus, and having someone else do the driving. I put on some tunes, or I hit a meeting in a pod cast, or I read. On the recommendation of a good friend, I had ordered a couple of books via Indigo last week. One of them, which I took to Ottawa this weekend was Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel” It’s a history of the world kind of book. Very interesting, a little academic, but so far, I have enjoyed the read.

Friday night we hit the Royal Oak for dinner, after my arrival and I got a free dinner because the kitchen screwed up my order. Free Food gets my vote any day.

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Saturday we packed the car and drove into Gatineau on the other side of the river from Ottawa to a National Park, and Lac Philippe. It is a HUGE lake, park, picnic and BEACH park, with all kinds of water fun to be had. Canoes, paddle boards, and stuff like that.

This car was parked right near us, and I had to photograph it because it was cool. A Canadian Maple Leaf car …

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I haven’t been in a body of water, i.e. a beach, since I left Florida all those years ago. We have a pool in the building, but it is enclosed on the 20th floor. And I never use it. So going to the beach was a novel idea.

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The water was cool, and very welcoming for sure. We hung out in the lake all afternoon, and watched people frolicking in the water.

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After the beach we went to Carlo’s for dinner. It is a roadside retro, restaurant in an old bus, with the retro neon sign above, serving easy quick fare of poutine, burgers, hot dogs and other sandwiches. They have a picnic table area to sit and eat. It was quite good actually. Very enjoyable.

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We then drove over to Wakefield for desert. Wakefield is close to the park we were at, so we parked the car and browsed the little shops in town, and had some ice cream. They built a brand new boardwalk along the river.

It was a special occasion. Rafa crossed his six-year mark a few months ago, so we gave him his six year chip standing at the river walk. Wakefield is where they want to live in the future, so I thought it would be a good spot to mark an anniversary.

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Old train tracks run along the river walk, and there are portal signs along the way explaining the history of the village where ever an old house or building stands along the line. We found this push car on the tracks at the end of the line. The kicker had been disconnected from the push bar, so the little car would not move, but you could push it manually.

The sun had set as we hit the road. And on the highway, the “You have low fuel light came on, and we were running on fumes by the time we found a gas station, thanks to Google Maps … We came into Ottawa around 9:15, and thought we should hit Parliament Hill to see the Northern Lights, light show. So we parked the car at the lot and walked back to the Hill, and got prime seats for the show.

The Northern Lights show runs all summer. It is a multimedia light, laser and film presentation, that is illuminated right on the face of the Parliament building itself. It tells the story of Canada and all the history of our country. It was the second time we have seen this particular show.

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At the end of the presentation, they play O’ Canada.

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Everybody stands while we sing …

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

It was last summer that we first saw this show, and it was an emotional moment for me, standing on the Hill, with my best friend, both of us had become citizens, he, a year or so ago, and me, in 2003. I did not get pomp and circumstance when my papers came through, so standing on Parliament Hill, with my best friend, two new citizens of Canada, singing the National Anthem … Gets me every time.

When I get to the line .. God keep our land Glorious and Free …

My heart swells and tears fall from my eyes. It is like that whenever they play O’ Canada at the Olympics too.

It happened again on Saturday night, however, all three of us were sobbing by the end of the anthem. I think that is the most patriotic thing to do, is stand on the Hill, with your friends and family and sing the national anthem.

I get very emotional over that.

Sunday we slept in until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, had a brief but tasty brunch and I took the bus home to Montreal. Today it is miserably hot. Supposed to rain for he next 4 days. UGH.

We really need the rain.

More to come.

Weddings …

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A funny thing happened in 2018 … We were invited to not one, not two, but THREE weddings this Summer.

Our niece Melissa and her hubby Stephan were married in May, down in Ontario. It was the first time we have ever traveled like that. The first time on a Via Rail Train. It was a hellish weekend for sure, as I wrote on that particular weekend (here on the blog)

Today, was wedding number TWO.

My friend Juan married his sweet heart, in a small and intimate wedding at St. Patrick’s Lady Chapel, at the Basilica.

I Instagrammed the entire day for you. Go —> over there and check it out.

You never know what kind of impact you are going to have on someone who needs The Solution, Finds that solution, and Listens to advice, when necessary. You never know the entire impact you will have on One Human being, let alone that human beings family.

I’ve said before, Sometimes I talk, and Juan listens. Sometimes Juan talks, and rages, and screams, and gets angry, and I listen. Then other times we are together and words are not necessary.

I was absolutely GOBSMACKED today.

From the wedding chapel, we walked to Old Montreal, which was not very far. We arrived at the hotel where the reception was being held, early, so we waited.

At 5 pm the terrace on the 4th floor opened. It was open bar, had an open Oyster Bar, and lots of nibble food. We were sitting off to the side, because I did not know anyone there, besides the bride and groom. We tried to blend into the furniture.

After a little while, Juan’s sister, who played the guitar and sang “Here Comes the Sun,” at the wedding, walked up to us and sat down with us, and began to talk. She wanted me to know how grateful she was and that her entire family was, for the work that I do with her brother.

She said that he speaks very highly of me and that everybody knows who I am because Juan talks about me incessantly. She wanted to tell me that she was grateful that she got her brother back, from a hopeless state of being, into the man he is today.

I did not know what to say after that.

It’s an anonymous program right.

Nobody mentioned it, but it was plainly visible on her face.

As the reception in the hall was starting up, we took our seats. We were on the entrance side of the hall, Juan and the family were sitting on the far side of the room, near the dance floor.

A little while later, the bridal party arrived, and were introduced. We all got up from our chairs, and proceeded to the dance floor, to see Juan and Nadia dance their first dance as husband and wife.

They said a few words of thanks.

Juan’s father, took out a script from his jacket pocket and grabbed the mic. Amid thanks to the guests for coming, he singled me out, in a room full of people, I did not know, and whom did not know who I was, And addressing me personally, in front of everyone, thanked me for giving their family back their son. That the man Juan is today, is a direct reflection of what I particularly do for Juan, on any given day. He said, so gratefully, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Juan’s family has seen its share of alcohol.

As Juan’s father finished his speech (IN SPANISH), his brother Rodrigo, took the very same script and read it in English. Once again, singling me out in English as well.

Needless to say I was GOBSMACKED !!!

That has never happened to me in public before. Having a family, get up, in front of their family and friends who traveled from far and wide, to be there, thank a complete stranger. Because at that point, only Juan’s sister had recognized me earlier in the evening. I had not met any of the other family, YET !

Towards the end of the dinner service, I asked Juan to send his father over to my table so I could introduce myself to him formally. Because up to that point, we’d never met.

Juan’s father Rodrigo senior came to our table and took my hand in his and in broken English proceeded to thank me again, profusely, saying that his family is so grateful for what I have done for their son. He was besides himself.

I don’t know about you, but it really isn’t about me.

It’s about helping others, to the best of our ability. Because you never know what kind of impact you will have on a single human being, let alone his entire family.

I’m totally grateful, gobsmacked, and humble.

Kinda chokes me up as I write this down.

Honor

 

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Last week in Montreal, as well as over most of the Eastern Seaboard, saw temperatures rise to new record levels. as of this evening, we know of 70 people in the Province of Quebec, died due to factors including age, underlying medical conditions, and reactions to severe heat conditions. 34 of those deaths were here in Montreal.

Sadly, we know who one of those 34 men and women were.

This afternoon, after making several calls to an institutional half way house here in Montreal, where one of our men lived, got a call back about 4 p.m. The case worker informed me that sadly, one of our men had died, in the course of a work day, being overcome by heat, in the back of a moving truck.

Temps were running in the high 40’s with humidexes in the mid to high 40’s. That combination of heat and humidity was a death knell for many.

My friend, a man of honor and dignity, spent two tours in Afghanistan working for American Armed Forces. Found himself on the wrong side of the law, after being discharged, finding himself in prison. He served his time and was released a few months ago.

He arrived in Montreal and was housed in an institutional halfway house not far from my home. I met him in one of our Thursday night meetings. At least, at first, I learned his name. Soon after we got him a free ticket to the West Island Roundup, where I took him into my circle, and provided for his weekend. Many people reached out to him over the past few months.

Myself and one of my friends, stepped up to sponsor him in recovery, he having gotten sober behind the walls, came out with 3 years and change, and had he made it, would have celebrated 4 years sober in November. He went to great detail at the roundup to buy himself a special limited edition chip, that we were holding for him, until he got to where he was going.

The first day of the Round Up, he showed me what he carried with him, photos of him and his team, while in Afghanistan. He carried those photos proudly, as a badge of honor and courage. I wanted to do right by him, because he deserved that honor for serving his country so proudly in a place that was seriously dangerous.

I tried very hard to honor his work and his dignity as a fellow-man on the road with us.

I was shocked beyond words today hearing that he had died.

P.T.S.D. is wicked and harsh.

Our man suffered a great many things. He was having a hard time at it, living in a house where drug and alcohol abuse was rife, he would tell me over and over. He flirted with a second incarceration, having lost his cool at the house a couple of weeks ago. He eventually got a talking to by the administrators and was allowed to stay on at the house.

I had brought him into my home, setting up his new I-Phone with music and very soon he really wanted high-end, ringtones. That was his passion, his time in the Armed Services. He had been over several times and we were getting to know each other.

This past week, he had dropped off the radar, and went M.I.A. (Missing in Action).

I worried for him and was not going to let it go until I figured out where he had disappeared to. This past Saturday I called the rooming house and inquired about his case worker and my friends where about. I was told that case workers don’t work on weekends and that I would have to wait until today to speak to him.

I got up early this morning, after hurried texts with the other member working with our man, and made the call to the house and left a message, that was replied about 4 p.m. this afternoon.

The only thought I was entertaining was that my guy had been re-incarcerated, because that was the thought I was entertaining. I had no idea or inkling that he had passed away, I mean, how often do we, ourselves, when someone so young disappears, say to ourselves, “Well they might be dead.”

Right now we know he was clean and sober. That he died working in a moving truck in Plus 40 temps, during a heat wave. Tonight, after the meeting, I was chairing, one of my friends called to inquire how I knew what I knew and what further I could tell him, which was not much.

Contacting the next of kin would have fallen to the discretion of the house and his case worker.

Eternal Rest Grant Him and May Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him.

A Little More Sober …

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It has been miserably HOT here. It has been more than a week of high 30’s into the mid 40’s with humidexes in the high 40’s. We broke several records this week. And they are saying, on the news that upwards of 44 people in the province are dead, because of the high heat.

We have too many apartments without AC across the city. And even some of our oldest hospitals were in serious jeopardy without AC in patient rooms. Many people IN those hospitals almost died, and all the medical services could offer was a sponge bath and a twice daily walk through corridors that had air, to keep sick patents alive.

It has been very ugly for sure. We have been waiting on God to make it rain, BIG TIME tonight. The severe storm warnings went up early today, but not a drop has fallen on the city as of 2:25 am. But the weather people tell us it will be in the 20’s tomorrow.

It rained once 5 days ago, and for all of ten minutes. I mean the rain fell, but as it hit the ground it evaporated on the steaming pavement below. It did not a drop of good.

I am working on another round of steps with a young lady of my acquaintance. She is a few years sober, but she is a wealth of insight. Tonight I saw another lady friend of mine at the meeting earlier, and shared with her an observation I made of something she said last week, at another meeting. And told her I was working with my young lady friend. My friend is sober a while now. And confirmed for me this thought …

The number of old timers, to “work with” has been slim on the ground. Many of our old timers have fallen off the radar as of late, OR, they are in rabbit holes of their own making. We’ve been trying to help them all when we can.

But my elder lady friend said that she read through the book with another young woman, who was sober just a few years, as they read together, and she told me that it was very humbling for her to sit with someone younger in the program than she was.

I have found that my young lady friend, has perspective on the book, that I have never seen or heard before. I have more notes in my book tonight, than I had written in that very same book, all the years I’ve been reading this particular copy.

I wrote an inventory, and we went over it Tuesday evening. I had followed her directions, but when we got to the end of what I had written, she said, what about the rest of it ? And I said to her, what about it ?

She said to me that I needed to do a fears inventory along with my sex inventory as well, as stated in the book, as it is written. She asked me if I had ever really completely completed a proper 4th step before ? I said no.

She said that she needed to look at my history to see if any issues, based on the already spoken inventory had bled over, and if I didn’t complete the step entirely, then it was not properly done.

Not one human I have ever sat with ever said those words to me, because I know we are all reading the same text, that hasn’t changed in 80 years.I guess this is my chance to really work steps fully and properly.

Nobody I have ever worked with before, ever ventured through the entire step 4 as it is written in the book. I laughed and said that I’ve never sat with a straight male sponsor who ever broached those two inventories with me.

I don’t think any of them wanted to know my exact honest history, so to speak. She sent me home to write it all out, for the first time in forever.

This evening I told my lady friend at the meeting about this conversation I had had with my younger lady friend, and she said to me, Then she IS the one person who knows what she is doing, follow what she tell you to do. So I am going to sit this portion on Monday evening with her.

My young lady friend got sober in Chicago, and has certain perspective about The Work. I sat and wrote the other day, stuff I haven’t thought about in eons.

A side story …

A long time ago, in years nine and ten, I was home grouped in a meeting on the far west west end of the city. There, at that time, was a group of hens who had, at that time, thirty plus years of sobriety each. They took me in and showered me with care. But there was something not just right about the people, in that space.

They celebrated my tenth anniversary with me. They dipped my two year chip in gold, and had it engraved for me as a gift for my tenth.

Soon after, I had an encounter with a member that was toxic and dangerous. It did not end well, and I was only so sober at that time. I promptly resigned from the group and gave back my keys and never spoke to any of them again, since.

And now I know, seven years later, that I was not very sober then, knowing what I know now about sobriety and myself.

For the last seven years, every time I cross paths with certain women from that older group, they ignore me like I do not exist. It happened not long ago that I was visiting Verdun for a series of meetings, and they came all the way from the West end to Verdun, and sitting outside, they all walked past me like I was not even there. Which bothered me intensely. But I shrugged it off …

Tonight, one of the matrons from that West End meeting spoke tonight for us at St. Matthias. After the meeting ended I visited the bathroom, and prayed.

I came out and strode up to our speaker, One of those women that ignore me in public spaces, and I said to her that “I remembered her kindnesses to me. I carry my ten year chip in my wallet and that I thought about her often, and I did not forget her kindness.

Then I added that – at ten years sober, in my experience now, I may have accrued ten years of time, But at that time, I had not accrued, ten years of sobriety, just yet. I know that now.

And I told her that. I told her that I really did not begin to grow up fully, until hit the twelve year mark and a sponsor in New York City, set me on the path to enlightenment. And I know from twelve to almost seventeen years this year, I have grown up a great deal. She asked me how I was feeling, and I said I felt good.

She shook my hand and we left it at that.

Upon reflection of that little conversation, I made an amend to that woman, seven years in the making.

Let’s just say this round is proving to be very difficult but freeing at the same time, as the days pass by, I learn something new about myself. I guess because I am paying attention to God.

Last week, at the same meeting, I was talking to another friend, we were talking about care giving, and I mentioned a story about my father. When I was young, and my grammy had a stroke, he took me out of school, and flew me 1500 miles to her bedside in the hospital.

I firmly believe in my soul, to this day, with what little we knew about strokes in the early 80’s … That if he took me to her bedside and she recognized me, that she would, in essence, wake up. (in the end, she did not wake up) And my friend said to me, that night that my father had a moment of clarity, in his alcoholism.

He knew in that moment he made that decision, clearly from someplace, outside of himself, that i was the key to her recovery. And he also knew that grammy loved me more that anyone else, which is why he flew me out there.

I went home, angry and conflicted. And brooded over it.

When grammy did not wake up or get better, and we came home, that alcoholism and the abuse escalated seriously. I don’t think he ever forgave me for failing his quest. I will never know now.

Friday when I left for the Friday meeting, I was not really feeling myself, but I did what I always do. I opened the cabinet and took out our coffee pot, and as I turned back around, to walk towards the kitchen, a single piece of paper fell to the floor face down.

Now, I was not feeling myself, and I was emotionally off kilter, so to speak. I picked up the paper and turned it over in my hands and began to read the article printed on it.

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It was an article about the house where Bill W. was born, in East Dorset Vermont. It does not appear on ANY map, and if you need to go there, or even want to go there, you first need to know where you are going, by the highway systems through the mountains and valleys of Vermont. Which made me ponder the memory of three years earlier.

My then sponsor, my best friend Joe, and myself were on our way to a men’s intensive retreat. On the way, we stopped in East Dorset to visit that house: the home, the entire property.

I was immediately put straight … It was a message from outside of myself, reminding me that I am never alone.

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We even visited the hallowed graveyard where Bill and his wife Lois are buried. We stood on his grave with a group of women, there for a retreat themselves on the property. and recited the serenity prayer standing around their graves.

That memory is seared into my brain.

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Over the past few months, little signs from God have been coming to me fast and furiously, over several mediums. I have speakers loaded onto my phone. And for about a month, my I-phone shuffle would send me one particular share from a woman I met in 2012, whom I adore, who was friends with Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Anyways, my phone kept shuffling her to me in the oddest moments, over an entire month. I suspected that I needed to hear something she said, which is why that one share kept rotating into my playlist over and over again. Because I guess, once was not enough, I kept listening to her talk to me. That proved to be very beneficial to me looking back at it now.

Not sure where all of this is going … This week is anniversary number 24 of my AIDS diagnosis in 1994. I’m still alive, and God has been talking to me quite often, funny that, I hear Him. I recognize the voice and the messages coming, as they come to me. From whomever they are coming from. I know, if it is coming from outside of me, then it must be Godly advice.

Funny how God works.