This week’s Here’s To Your Health is a continuation of Steve C.’s story about his first AA meeting and subsequent recovery.


I decided to have a cup of that coffee and hoped that nobody would talk to me. I went to the other end of the basement and filled my cup to the brim, but by the time I returned to my seat the cup was already half empty and I hadn’t yet taken a drink. It didn’t take an Indian to follow my trail because it was well marked by spilled coffee. The DT’s (delirium tremens) were starting again and the speeders I had taken before the meeting were causing me to shake violently. Even holding a half-full cup of coffee without spilling it seemed impossible. I have no idea what was said at my first AA meeting, but I distinctly remember one old man taking me aside, he asked my name, he didn’t attempt to hug me, but he shook my hand with both of his and said, “If you don’t do anything else Steve, keep coming back!”

Shortly after that first AA meeting I was locked up in a psych-ward at a Veteran’s Administration hospital. That VA hospital was on the eastern plains of Colorado and somehow six weeks passed and they started my disability paper work for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because I was no longer able to hold any type of job. They said I was disabled and would never work again, but they didn’t say my life was useless, so I began attending four or five AA meetings each day.

The AA’s started me on a rigorous course of action, for two years I did AA service work, made their coffee and ran the Pueblo club, the last position I held at Pueblo Club was Vice President of the Board of Directors.

My new life wasn’t easy, my father died when I was four months sober. I returned home to Indiana and carried his casket, but only because I was sober. This was the same father I despised, but now I longed to tell him that I loved him and how wrong I’d been. Two years later mother was on her death bed, and thanks to sobriety, I was there for her at the end of her life and that’s something I could never have done drunk. After mother’s death my daughter had a son out of wedlock, he was born with a multitude of birth defects. He was having seizures, as he clung to life at Children’s Hospital in Denver and they also discovered that he was mentally retarded. Flash backs about Vietnam, mangled bodies, traumatized people and seeing clouds of Agent Orange plagued me. Finally, our grandson was allowed to come home so Louise and I went back to Indiana to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. On our return trip to Colorado we phoned home to Pueblo and discovered that our grandson was dead. The baby was ten weeks old, and his father had murdered him, his spine was broken in two places and severed from his brain; both of his eyes were contused and hanging out on his cheeks. I can never forget my grandson’s funeral; it was the most devastating day of my life, but yet one of the most rewarding. The devastating part was walking into that church and seeing my grandson’s little blue casket. I walked to the front pews of the church with tears streaming down my face where I hugged my wife and daughter. Overwhelmed by grief and sorrow suddenly I felt a pat on my shoulder; that was the inspiring part. I turned and saw an AA friend, we hugged and then there was another pat, another hug and recovering AA people formed a line out the back of that church that extended for almost a city block. People just like me, who had once been called, “scum of the earth,” because we suffered from an untreated “spiritual malady.” These people had walked through the same insidious hell of alcoholism and addiction as me, but we now found ourselves bound together in an indescribably wonderful fellowship.

Life goes on, good and bad things still happen, but we’ve learned to live our lives on “life’s terms,” not ours.

The Waynedale News Staff
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John Barleycorn

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