Monday, October 1, 2012


A couple of years ago, I was sitting in a bar down in Mexico, imagine that, it was our usual Friday afternoon crowd and we were starting to get our loud on.  I was already starting to try and "manage" my drinking, hell, I'd been trying to manage it since I started.  Sitting smack dab in the middle of the empty Modelo cans and full ashtrays sat this man, Mike, quietly sipping his Diet Pepsi and laughing with good nature about the ribbing he was getting for providing some extra, um...chum on a recent fishing trip. I knew of this man, I'd never met him, but you know how we are when we are at that point in our drinking, so sick of ourselves, so desperate for any message of hope, constantly looking for someone to throw us a  lifeline.  Someone must have whispered in my ear once, "You know he's an alcoholic. Bad.  Real big in AA." I know now that Mike would never have wanted someone whispering those things in my ear, he would have wanted them to holler those words loud enough for the whole bar to hear.  He repeated those same words to me just a few minutes later, when I'd worked up enough courage and had enough bourbon in me to wiggle my way into a seat across from him.  He told me about his drinking, how bad it was, he told me about going to the hospital with severe pancreatitis and telling the doctor there, "You know I drink" and she said, "I know" and he said, "I drink a lot." and she said, "I know." He told me about going to rehab and he told me about his life in AA.

He told me he'd been sober 18 years.  He told me about how damn good his life is.  The joy and the disbelief in his good fortune radiated in his quiet smile and in every word he spoke.

He told me about Hope.

Mike passed away about a week ago and I wrote his wife, Lynette.  I'd already told her about mine and Mike's conversation in that bar and what it had meant to me, on my one year sober anniversary, Mike was in the hospital and I asked her to tell him, "Thank you."  The day before yesterday, I wrote her and told her how I had always looked at her and Mike's marriage as one of those star-struck lucky ones.  That she was blessed.  This is the lovely and hope-filled message she wrote me back.

You are such a sweetheart for sending me this note. You have no idea how much it means to me.
Mike and I used to talk about that other kind of marriage, the same-space forced-proximity too-financially-tangled-up-to-escape kind. We were so, so lucky. No, I would never have wanted to miss out on 20 years of my sweetheart to escape the tough times in those two decades, or heartbreak in the end. I am glad that you have found that kind of love too. We are blessed, Kary.
This is something that I wrote for Mike's funeral. It was such a good service, lots of AA people there, and no preaching. The man who led the thing was one of Mike's oldest friends in AA and he shared personal stories about Mike's impact on others that were just lovely.
If you have to have a funeral, it was a great one.

"Mike and I went to a poker game together after a Friday night AA meeting, the night before our first real date. Close to midnight, he dealt the last hand of five card draw. I picked up my cards to find my first ever royal flush ~ in hearts. The odds of that are about one in a million. When I raked in the biggest pot of the night, Mike looked at me across the table with that beautiful smile, and said "alright, babe!" I took a big chunk of his money that night, and he laughed about it. Something about his happiness in my good fortune made me think at that moment that he was the one.

And he was. Mike and I were perfect together from the start. We had a one-in-a-million, royal flush kind of life together. He made me laugh every single day and his warmth and love were as constant as the sun and the waves of that green ocean he loved, even in the hardest times.One of the last things Mike said to a friend, just after he'd awakened in ICU, a week before he died, was this: "I am blessed." He was blessed and he knew it. And I was blessed to have 20 years with him. Though people tell me life goes on,

It's impossible to imagine a life without my sweetheart, without that smart, funny, happy, man to share the days with. I will miss him the rest of my life."One day at a time, Kary. I know there's a next life coming up and I can't imagine what it will hold. It will be different, I know that. And I wish he were here, but I know that he is now healthy and free of illness and ... well, I'd say peaceful and happy, but no matter how sick he became, he was always peaceful and happy. :-)smile

In the ICU, he saw something incredible over my left shoulder, something that lit up his face and stunned him. What was it? I don't know, but next he said "The door closed," and three days later he was out on the regular floor at the hospital when he said, very matter-of-factly, I'm going to die. He knew. He also saw what was coming for a moment, and it thrilled him. He spent the next day with this amazing smile on his face saying over and over again "wow!" He was just recovering his verbal ability at that point. I wish he could have told me more about what he saw, but things work out the way they're supposed to. He's in a good place and I am grateful for that

.and now I've just yakked your ear off!! Thank you again for writing. What a gift you gave me this morning. hugs, lynette

Mike, buddy, you're still sending me messages of Hope.  Thank you.  Kary


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  2. Okay, I get it. I can see why some of you are rolling your eyes and maybe thinking I've gone too far with the "God" thing. I've even had the balls to call in a grieving widow to be my shill (yeah, I'm a little pissed off).
    Well, if you guys knew the Lynette I do, the lynette who regularly turns my fb blue with her political stylings, the lynette that could make most of us blush with our clumsy use of the "f" and "s" word, you'd know how ludicrous it is to think she'd paint a pretty little picture of her husband's deathbed for our entertainment.

    I want to introduce you to her, here is her blog link I want you to go there and read it, but don't read the latest ones, because the first one may come off a little "out there" too, read back to the beginning, read about the woman who's mother walked out the front door 40 years ago never to be seen again, read about her struggle with booze and then come back here and tell me if you think she's capable of making this up.

  3. I thought this was definitely spoke to me, thanks for sharing Kary. Your blog is one of the only ones I read, makes my day when I come here here and see a new post!

  4. I apologize for my persnickitiness in the above comment. Sometimes there are things that go on behind the blog, so to speak, that you don't know about. In this case, it was just a mistake and misconception, all is well.

  5. This was beautiful and it gave me hope. So many little messages in one writing. I'm sorry I didn't know him.
    Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on you continued soberity.

  6. You're fabulous and you bring sunshine into people's lives. Again....I'm sorry. Live long and prosper.

  7. holy cow, I missed the snark, darn it!

    I can't believe someone was an asshole about this post. Haters gotta hate, I guess.

    I'm not religious, but nobody KNOWS what happens after we die (but we're all gonna find out!)...and whether or not we meet again or if we all just become part of this big planet again (go recycling!! haha) I for one hope that I go with a big smile on MY face looking at a door opening or closing or whatever. It sounds to me like he was an amazing person and so is his wife. How lucky you are to have had them in your life (and vice-versa I'm sure).

    big hugs for your loss

  8. Tranquilo, chica!
    The person who posted alerted me to her post and apologized before I even knew it was here, so she's made her amends. She's not an alcoholic but has had one do some major damage to her life and not make amends, even though they've quit drinking. (major dickwad) She wasn't aiming at Lynette or me, we just kind of walked into her target practice.

  9. I love you Kary May.

  10. I love you too, whoever you are.

  11. I'm glad I missed whatever it was that happened here. A little too raw for anyone to take potshots at my sweetheart.

    Here is a story that Tim C. shared at his funeral. We'd all been out at our home group picnic on one miserably hot Oklahoma day. It got up to 109 that day, but we all soldiered on, cheerfully listening to the speaker and trying not to snooze after all the picnic food we'd consumed.

    By quitting time, around 4 p.m., everyone was exhausted, tired, sweaty, but also inspired and happy to have been together. Mike had been talking to a guy who'd never been to our group before. He was pretty rough around the edges, halfway between the streets and maybe getting sober.

    Mike was full up on sponsors, so he corralled Tim and asked if he'd take the guy on. Of course. Then Mike said "we're meeting him at Rebos tonight at 8:00." It was the last thing Tim wanted to do, but he respected Mike and a commitment is a commitment to that wonderful man.

    So Tim and Mike arrived at Rebos 15 minutes before the meeting. Looked around. Waited. Peeked in the bathroom. The guy was a no show. Tim was really furious with the guy. After all, we'd all been suffering out at the lake and this clown couldn't even show up. Then Mike leaned over and said "Looks like he's not coming. I hope he's okay." And Tim's anger vanished instantly.

    That was Mike. Always way more interested in caring for others and helping them than in his own comfort. Never turning down anyone, no matter how desperate. Lots of sober drunks will pass by that man sitting on the back row, the one who's rusted through his zipper, can barely hold a cup of coffee for having the shakes. It's easier to pretend he's not there, or that someone else will take care of him, and pass on by the higher bottom drunks. Mike never passed anyone by. One of his first sponsorees was a guy I'd gone to grade school with. Absolutely brilliant, but after his brother and his mother killed themselves within a year of one another, David just lost it.

    Mike used to meet with him an abandoned house in downtown Tulsa to study the book. They read every Tuesday night beneath a lightbulb with a cord run from the neighbor's house. He never gave up. And with his illness, he never gave up either.

    He's my AA hero. In my almost 30 years of sobriety, I've never met a kinder, more gentle man, one more willing to help anyone, any time, anywhere, no matter the circumstances.

    I sure miss my sweetheart. Thanks for this post, Kary.

  12. We only keep it by passing it on, bless all those who live the 12th step. Rest easy Mike. See ya at the Big Meeting in the sky.

  13. hmm,, drama has rained down upon your bloggy I see; um, Kay, screw 'em . . really, who cares? Thank God for the power to delete and pity the person who takes cynicism to such a toxic degree.

    Mike looks like so many old timers I know in the program and thank you for sharing a bit about one of our friends!! I am sorry for your, and his wifel's, loss

  14. I thought this was beautiful. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. ~ RoS