This weeks HTYH is a continuation of Dave’s story: I started writing to my mother and sending her cards. When my counselor asked me if she responded, I said no. He said, “Then write to her again and keep writing to her every day.” I said, “What should I say?” Tell her you’re thinking about her and so every day, I wrote a card and said, “Dear Mom, I’m thinking about you.” Finally she wrote back and said, “Thank you for thinking about me every day and she sent me a Donald Duck cartoon. I wrote her back and thanked her for the cartoon and she wrote me back. Funny how things work, pretty soon, I called and invited her to my house for a visit. When she came to the house she sat on the opposite end of the sofa from my brother and I. She was terrorized and didn’t know what to say or where to begin.

She finally told us a story about visiting her grandmother and how her grandmother had ran her fingers through her hair and told her that she had beautiful hair. I looked at Mom and I saw my self and the hundred forms of fear she felt–I was just like her. After that visit we kept writing every day and when I was four years sober I invited her to go on a trip with me to Washington, D.C. to see the Cherry Blossoms.

She shared a story with me about burning some biscuits when she was a little girl and her grandfather beat her with a tobacco cane. She was scared to death of him and hated being around him. I decided to broach the subject of the time she beat me for not listening to her. After all, if I had listened to her, the eggs would not have been broken and whole incident never would have happened, but she stopped me and said. “Son, for 32 years I’ve regretted that incident, it filled me with remorse, guilt and shame and no words can ever describe how sorry I am for treating you like that–will you forgive me?”

For the first time, I understood that she had paid a higher price than me for that incident and it was time for it to be forgotten. I played the victim and that kept me from forgiving her and it cheated us out of so many years of each others love. What a terrible price we paid for something that should have been forgotten and forgiven so many years ago.

My mother had open-heart surgery not long after we mended our relationship and I was able to wash her feet and back and help her through her hard spot. She loved the senior center and when I visited her there she introduced me to her friends and was proud to tell them, “This is my son, David.” One time when I visited her there I asked if she had met any new friends and she blushed like a schoolgirl. She met a man named Lawrence, 6 months younger than her and she asked me if that was OK? I told her I was so happy for her and I promised to pray for them. The next day, when I said goodbye, she put her head on my shoulder and asked if it was really OK if she was seeing Lawrence. She was relived when I said of course it’s OK and she said, “Thank you, because I’m so lonely.” She told me that they enjoyed having dinner together and that he always had her home by 9:30. I am so grateful that I got sober and made amends to my mother because I would’ve went to my grave resenting her and we would’ve missed out on the final years of her life. I thought being the victim and resenting others hurt them and that I was showing them. “I’ll show you, I’ll kill myself.” God’s Grace, and the miracle of Alcoholics Anonymous gave me a second chance at life that’s been indescribably wonderful. To be continued…

John Barleycorn

The phantom writer of the column "Here's to Your Health". This writer is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and therefore must maintain anonymity. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer