“Hope I die before I get old” – sang a very youthful Roger Daltry, using the lyrics written by an equally fresh faced Pete Townsend. “Only the good die young”, intoned piano man Billy Joel once. Someone should write a song saying “Only the tough die sober”… hang on I’m a songwriter… hmm… awaiting inspiration.
Some of you will remember a few months back that “Jack” (as I called him on here) passed away – Jack joined AA about the same time as me but was already well into his 60s when he did. But from his first AA meeting he never picked up a drink again and died just over 10 years later… sober.
Yesterday another inspirational friend “Terry” passed on. He had a stroke before Christmas and had been making a slow but steady recovery but yesterday slipped away. I first met Terry many many years ago when I was a teenager, I knew others in his family and met him then. Our lives took different paths until the first day I was out of rehab when for the first time I went to an AA room on my own under my own steam, well when my Mum suggested it actually! You can read this elsewhere on the blog. I know Terry was at that meeting he was in service at that group at the time. For the next roughly 2 years that group was one of my home groups where I was a regular – I’d visit my Mum early evening have a chat then head to the meeting. Eventually I realised who Terry was and that I’d known him previously – when I mentioned it to him he chuckled (like he always did) and said “I wondered when you’d cotton on who I was”.
Terry had himself entered the rooms of AA in his 60s – after retirement when he’d found that rather than stopping drinking when he stopped working it had got worse. He’d been living in a functioning alcoholic hell for so long but now it was getting worse… much worse. He went to a meeting and never picked up another drink for over 20 years until yesterday when he passed away.
Terry was one of those – Don’t drink, go to meetings, do service and you’ll get well – kind of AA members. Yes, he’d done the steps and woven them into his fabric of life but his was a simple, joyous sobriety that I for one aspire to attain myself. However behind that in his story was a desperate desire to not drink and an early sobriety where he’d been tough on himself to achieve that. He could be tough on you too in a kind way if you were wobbling – he’d just wait until you got to the bit in your story where you knew you should do something, stop doing something, accept something or move on with something you were putting off. He’d hold your gaze looking into your eyes for a second or three, shrug, smile, chuckle and just say “You know what you need to do. Don’t you.” Then next time you saw him he’d simply ask “So?” Hold the gaze again, he’d tell just by looking in your eyes… based on what he saw either he’d say “Well, the pain won’t stop until you do something about it” or “Good. How’s it feeling now then?” Always with that knowing smile and his infectious chuckle.
RIP Terry – thanks for all your support and love over the last 10 years.