July 21, 2006: Jeff made the decision not to go back to an addicted life.

In the last chapter of Stay Close, I wrote: Jeremy once asked, “Momma, how will you end the story about Jeff?” I admitted, “I don’t know, Jer. It’s not my story to end.” His answer was clear, “But that’s the point. We don’t know what will happen to Jeff, but no one can ever take away our hope. You have to end the story in hope.” And we will.

Six years ago, Jeff made the decision to live a sober life and our family is deeply grateful. We remain humble, knowing that there is no finish line with the journey that is recovery, but we also know that gratitude and joy are essential parts of being alive. Celebrations are important.

Dear Jeff, We’re grateful you came home to yourself and to us. You had the courage to fight for your life, and your courage continues as you choose again each day. We learn from you. We learn from your strength, resolve, commitment and spirituality. You’ve accomplished much in these six years, and you have many dreams yet to achieve. Happy Anniversary, Jeff!


We can put our loved ones on the carousel, but we can’t expect them to be happy.

A mom wrote to me, Three years ago, when my nightmare began with my daughter’s addiction to heroin, my days were filled with dread and desperation. Looking back, my addict was only half of that chaos. The other half was created by me. I didn’t expect to have a good day, nor did I even think I deserved it. I felt everything was my fault because I was responsible for everything and everyone.  

I am now learning to allow others the dignity to make their own decisions and reap the rewards of their actions or suffer the consequences. I am not responsible for everyone, all the time. My experience tells me that when I set expectations for others, I am frequently disappointed.  In All My Affairs, I limit the expectations I have of others.

My reaction: The Big Book states, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” Jeff’s addiction taught me that I couldn’t control his actions, even though I often wanted want to. I can plan, hope and pray that something occurs, but I have no power over anyone else. A hard lesson to learn and a harder one to accept. But my serenity is based on me letting go of expectations.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today I will let go of my expectations for others. I admit my shortcoming in wanting to control people around me, but I must acknowledge that I can’t. I will give others the dignity of making their own decisions, and I will find my serenity in making good choices for myself.


From left to right: Son Jeff, Aunt Darlene, Uncle/Brother JF, Grandmom/Mom Laura, Nephew Bob, Niece Rebecca, Son Jeremy

My brother wrote this and it touched me. Following is an excerpt: “Hi, Dad. I have another question for you, but you should be honored because you’re the first person I think of to ask any tricky question….”

My daughter. Another in a long line of e-mail questions from my accomplished, 27-year-old daughter, Rebecca, who, despite her youth, has traveled the world. She now works for an organization that occasionally sends her to central Pakistan to work with Muslim female schools (madrasas) to try to show them how many Islamic views are similar to Christian ones, to effect a dialogue. I told her, “Beck, I know you get excited about this, but it’s pretty tough on the Old Man until you get back.” She said, “Dad, don’t you understand? It’s the confidence that you’ve always showed in me that gives me the courage to do all this stuff.”

Confidence…courage…to go into hostile areas…I gave her that? I raised her with two principles: that I loved her completely, and that would never, and could never, change. (Which doesn’t mean that I didn’t discipline her a ton of times growing up. I did. All kids need that. Doesn’t affect the love.) The other principle was that she had to be a good person. She had to do the right thing.

As for me, I don’t much care when I die, (but) I want to have time to say goodbye to my loved ones. I want enough time for Beck to get to me from whatever far-flung outpost she happens to be. I want to tell her I love her one more time. Maybe she’ll ask me a question. After all, I’m her Dad.

(To read the original: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/first-person-fathers-and-daughters-329029/)

Today’s Promise to consider: Parents and our children: Fathers and daughters, mothers and sons. I love my sons, and that can never and will never change. I know they are good persons and I pray they always do the right thing. After all, I’m their mom.


Granddaughter Iysa and Papa/Son Jeremy

A grandmother wrote to me, On especially hectic mornings, when I’m trying to get out of the house and my grandbabies to daycare, I think God stops me and slows me down so that I take the time to watch my grandson run to the front door and tell me, “I really run fast,” and let my granddaughter “do it myself” as she puts on her jacket. Even if it takes an extra five minutes, she is so proud to say, “I did it.” 

I look back and wonder did I take this time with my own children or was I so busy with work, cleaning house, homework, what have you. Knowing now what I know about addiction and serenity (thanks to Al-Anon), I take the time to enjoy my grandchildren each and every day, especially during the crazy hectic times.

My thoughts: Each day is precious, but often life’s pressures pound away at the present, and I think, “I’ll hug him later,” or “I’ll talk with her tomorrow.” There are memories that are forever stamped into my heart of Jeff running around in his Superman cape or Jeremy covered with mud carrying his treasures of frog eggs and salamanders found in the stream. My sons are now men and I can’t change the past, but I can hold onto my memories and make new ones.

Today’s Promise to consider: I’m not the perfect Mom or Nonna, but maybe there is no such thing as perfect. I can only be the best I can be. I’ll forgive myself for the times I wasn’t there, and today I will be there for my children and grandchildren. I will cherish every moment.