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.

It’s ok, I have all day…

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The local area Help Line, is one of the most important contact points, for people who need help, to get them where they need to go. If you’ve never volunteered to answer the help line where you live, I highly suggest you make the time to give back.

There are many ways into the rooms. Some come the hard way, via court orders, a little less tough, is the rehab route, then the easier route, coming through the door yourself.

I might say that’s the easiest route, but in reality it is not that easy. Walking through that door, for some, is really difficult. We see them. Every meeting. You hang outside the door, till the last-minute, then skulk in and hang on the back wall.

The back wall is synonymous with struggle. That’s why there is always a row of chairs against the back wall. At least that’s an easy starting point. From that back wall, we find our way forwards, later choosing a chair that is closer to the front.

We begin on the periphery, Alone, Scared, Fearful, till we find our ways forwards and we become Part Of, One of Many.

Alcoholics are predictable. We like uniformity. For years and years, when ever I do service, in certain meetings, there are always chairs put out, closest to the exit door. In one particular meeting, I was homed in for over a decade, extra chairs were the norm, even if, they were in the farthest reaches of the room. Because they were always sat.

We all have our chairs. Seats we sit in at every meeting. Predictably.

On Monday, I sit in the same local seat, at the table. And I encourage my friends to sit “At the Table,” On Thursday, I sit in an aisle chair, second row from the front. On Friday, I sit in the same seat as well, first chair on the right of the chairperson. In case we have a newbie in the chair, and they need some moral support and maybe a little coaching from the sidelines.

The first five years of sobriety, I volunteered every week to go to the Help Line office, uptown to answer the Help Line. These days, with technology, you can answer the Help Line from the comfort of home, on a land line, or better yet, on your cell.

But I admit, after five years, I got tired with talking to the same three people, who would call, twenty, thirty times a day. At the office we had a log book, because they log calls, and repeat calls were becoming more than I could emotionally handle, because there are those who call, in the midst of drunkenness, or difficulty, and no matter how many times they call, and you direct them where to go, our work falls on deaf ears.

There are those unfortunates who just don’t want to get better.

And I admit, I grew tired of crazy drunkenness.

Imagine a woman who was in dire straits. Who could not hold it together. And finally one day, she panhandles a quarter to make the call to the help line. Forty five minutes later, the man on the other end, gives her the address of a meeting, on the other side of town from where she is when she made the first call.

He gives her the address and the route to take to get her there.

She hangs up the phone, having not written down what she was told, and she forgets.

Takes three steps to her right and panhandles another quarter to call again, because she forgot what the kind man had said to her the first time.

She calls a second time, profusely apologizing for her second call, and the reply from the other end was this …

It’s Ok, I have all day. I will give you all the help you need as long as you need it.

People who answer that help line most definitely, can change a life, with a simple moment of compassion and understanding.

That woman is now 15 years sober.

The miracle happened, because someone was on the other end of that Help Line.

The Help Line can save lives.