Let me tell you about Jack (name changed)…
I met Jack about two weeks after I left rehab. I’d started to go to a meeting that became more regular home group for many years, it is the one that I now rarely get to due to the commitment to my course. Anyway it was summer 2004. I was talking to one of the guys where who’d already put his hand out to me as a new comer. We were having a tea before the meeting standing outside the entrance. On the other side of the road two young guys were squaring up to each other, all that pushing puffing chests out etc which normally ends in them walking away all pumped up or with someone throwing the first punch. This oldish guy staggers up the road and jumps in between them trying to break the fight up. “Oh shit. We’ll have to jump in if they start on that old fool” says my friend. We put the tea mugs down ready to do so. But the youngsters calm down. The old bald chap with the big ears and a blazer that had seen much better days stumbles over to us. “Is this the AA meeting?” We took him in got him a tea. He talked throughout the meeting, all over the speaker. Kept saying we were all “lovely people” – pissed as a fart as they say. I honestly thought I’d never see him again, let alone in a room again.
Next week there he was. He was sober. Not drunk all week. Had been waiting for the meeting. He was regularly tea boy there and other meetings. Always a laugh. Always talking about football, he was a Man Utd fan for his sins.
Earlier this year I saw him and he looked so sad – not Jack at all, Jack always had a smile a joke and smile. His dear partner (I’ll call her Jill) had passed on having fought cancer too long. He was devastated. By then he was well into his 80s. He found that more and more of the guys he had made friends in the last 10 years at his local cafe in the “crossword crew” were going into homes or hospital or dying.
I saw him a few weeks ago and he looked so thin, drawn and worn out. He gave a talk about his 10 years of sobriety at a meeting. Everyone laughed, sighed and cried through his story. He’d been a soldier, a farmer, a good footballer… he was a great man who was one of my recovery best buddies as we were roughly the same AA age – I always joked he was younger than me. He was a great example of the AA programme at work a man who’d had issues with drink for decades who finally found something that worked for him.
Sadly two days ago Jack lost his chance to get older than me in recovery. If he believed in an after life I hope that firstly Jill and his first wife will accept a polygamous ever after and that he gets to play a game with the Busby Babes.
He never took another drink from that moment he left the pub to come to the meeting where he hoped we’d tell him how to drink normally so Jill and his daughters would talk to him again. In sobriety he gave his daughter away at her wedding and gave a sober speech and looked after his grand kids. He also helped me a great deal when Mum was ill – his wife died of the same lymphoma. He helped a great many people stay sober as well.
Rest in peace my friend – I’ll love you forever.