Sad news. Again I have to sadly report that a friend in AA has passed away. I’ll call this friend of mine “Wilma”. I met her very early on in my sobriety she was a regular at the old meeting that is no longer running that was in the church hall along the street from my Mum’s. That meeting was terrific for me – it was the first one I walked into under my own steam after I’d left rehab. It was still a smoking meeting in those days – honestly suddenly 11 years ago seems like a lifetime when you mention that! There was a mad rule that the non smokers which include me, Wilma and my old late friend Terry sat on the opposite side of the table from the smokers – who sat with their backs to the windows… which meant all the smoke just blew straight into the faces of the non-smokers! Only in AA could this be considered a sensible compromise! I sat on the smoker side once and nearly caused a riot! Being closed to my Mum’s bungalow meant I could visit Mum for a cup of tea and a chat and then toddle off to the meeting and it had a great crop of regular members who really helped my early tottering steps in the AA programme.
Wilma was this well dressed, well presented lady in her latter years when I met her – clearly a pensioner. I almost wondered what a nice lady like her was doing in AA. Then I heard her story – horrendous – alcoholic hell – especially the trips to lunatic asylums in the 60s and 70s and the DTs during her withdrawals were horrendous. Somehow after years in and out of institutions she got it and got AA. Boy though this little old lady swore worse than the soldiers who went to that meeting when she got going!
She got increasingly frail and moved away some years ago to live nearer one of her daughters. I saw her a few months ago at one of my regular meetings she’d been a regular member of previously. She’d popped back for a visit with her daughters to see some friends and dropped into the meeting. She was still dear old Wilma and gave me a great hug and kiss and said she was so pleased to see me still on the AA path.
Sadly she passed away last week. I found out yesterday and being secretary of that group currently it was my sad duty to break the news to a group of her old friends. But she was another true testament to AA and the programme – she had one of the most horrendous drunkalog stories I have ever heard and she got it in the end and she stayed sober for must have been over 30 years spending many years herself as a psychiatric nurse after training in sobriety to take that work on. Rest well Wilma you deserve it and you’ll always stay in my heart.
The latest group of deaths has shown me that the elder statesmen and women of my local AA groups that I looked up to and wished to emulate in my sobriety are by definition now getting to be old people – I was early 40s when I came in, I’ll soon be mid 50s and therefore those 20 or so years older than me are all hitting their 70s, 80s etc. and time waits for no man or woman. However some of these people had really no divine right to be alive at their age given how they’d drunk in years gone by.