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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We Were One Number Away from Hazelden

I wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of my father talking. 

“No, no,” he says.  “You’re doing the right thing.”

I rise from bed, pad down the long hallway between the bedrooms and the living room.  On the other end of the trailer, my father is standing in the kitchen.  Back to me, elbows on the counter, the phone is cradled between his ear and shoulder.  He is staring out the window at the front, staring out into the dark, silent street.

I rub my eyes.  

There is a sad overtone to this time of night.  A person could suddenly realize that he is the only person on the planet.

“Absolutely,” he says.  “All of us, man.”  My dad goes into the fridge, pulls out a beer.

He covers the mouthpiece of the phone as he pops the tab on the can.

“The thing is,” he says, “is that we are never alone.  The help is there.  But yeah, it’s asking, right?  The salvation lies in the asking.”

He takes a long drink, sets the can down quietly.

“I agree 100%,” he says.  “And all I’m asking is that you stop hurting yourself, can you do that?  Just for tonight?” 

There is silence.

“Look,” he says, “Can you do me a favor?  You got somewhere to lie down?  Yeah, take the phone with you.  Just lie down.”  There is silence.  “No, I’m still here.”

I close my eyes, sway softly in the darkness.

“You’re right.  We’re alone.  All of us, alone – until we reach out.  You reached out, and I’m proud of you.”

My father jumps up on the counter.  The phone, after all, won’t reach to a chair.

I press my back to the wall.

“You promise?” he says.  “You just fell off the wagon, that’s all.  You promise to come in in the morning?”

The trailer is absolutely still.

“No, thank you, man.”

There is a pause.

“Yep.  I’m going to stay here until you fall asleep. ”

The cat walks by, winds his way around my ankles.  I bend down, scratch between his war-torn ears.

“Don’t worry,” my dad says.  “Everything’s going to be all right.”




32 comments:

Camille said...

Holy Moley Pearl - that was so beautifully written. Excellent.

Pearl said...

Camille, thank you. It's been in my pile of things to write about for a while now.

Shelly said...

Utterly beautiful. We need more like your dad in this world.

Dawn@Lighten Up! said...

Beautiful, Pearl.

I will tell you that I've done what your dad did, here. Not easy.

Great job, Pearl's Dad. :)

Daisy said...

I'm speechless. Blessings on all who walk with others to support new life.

Pearl said...

Shelly, Dawn, Daisy, I will share that with him. He's always said, "Everyone wants to be heard". I think that's true.

Delores said...

A whole 'nother side to the fun loving wise cracking guy you usually portray him as. Beautiful job Pearl.

Buttons said...

Oh Pearl I love your Dad I can see where you get your compassion. Hug B

vanilla said...

Your dad was a prince among men. 99. 38% of guys would have growled, "Wrong number," and slammed the phone down. (Statistical data made up on the spot, but perhaps not inaccurate.)

Simply Suthern said...

Whether it be a Dad or mom or both, every family needs an anchor. Was kind of him to be that for someone else. Good man your dad.

I've had similar conversations with a couple folks. It is hard.

jenny_o said...

Good for your dad. Not an easy thing to do, that. But he made a difference to that caller.

Daisy said...

Oh my. Very powerful piece, Pearl. Your Dad is a good man. Thank you for sharing this story.

Joanne Noragon said...

Wonderful piece. Good man, your dad.

Jinksy said...

Full marks for this well written tale. ♥

Ian Lidster said...

As an erstwhile addictions counselor I can only say your dad would have made a brilliant one. Such compassion and understanding and lack of judgment is only to be marvelled at. Thank you for writng this dear Pearl.
As an aside, we used to use tons of materials from Hazelden when I was counseling.

fishducky said...

Your dad is a beautiful man!!

fmcgmccllc said...

Not easy to be that guy.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you. I hope that I can be as warm, supportive and empathic as your father. I try.

Suldog said...

What a great story!

The construction of it was a treat. I mean - having been there and done that, in a few ways - I knew he was talking someone down, but I wasn't sure from what. At the end, I clicked on the link, understood that part of it, then scrolled back up to read the title again, and got a little shiver down my spine, realizing how cool Your Dad's actions were. The part about him popping open a beer gives a hint maybe HE had come short on a pledge, himself, but then (again) it all became clear via the link/title. Beautifully written and constructed.

Although you can't see it, I am bowing in the general direction of Minnesota.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Your father is an awesome man and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Beautifully written; thank you for sharing this with me. XO

Linda O'Connell said...

Very poignant,powerful and so much revealed with such brevity.

Geo. said...

All it takes here is for a distraught caller to transpose 2 digits and they get me instead of the veterinarian. Even setting them onto the proper number is rewarding. Your dad's patience and kindness far exceeds that --as I hope the rewards do also.

Gigi said...

And just like that...tears.

What a fabulous portrait of the man that is your father. We need more people like him walking this earth.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
...I checked in again at just the right moment.

YAM xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (send those extra hugs and kisses to your dad, please)

HermanTurnip said...

Your father, a man of integrity.

This was a beautiful piece, my friend.

Far Side of Fifty said...

He sounds like a good man. It is not easy being the shoulder to lean on:)

River said...

Your father is such a wonderful man, a good soul.

Douglas said...

A great story, Pearl. The irony of cracking a beer while encouraging someone who fell off the wagon struck me as particularly poignant.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Heroic.

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

Wow. I loved this one, too. And what Douglas said also.

Kathleen McCoy said...

This is such a beautiful post, Pearl! And it gives a glimpse of the insightful and tender aspects of your amazing Dad.

Diane Tolley said...

But one very important number. Thank you for sharing this. Made my day! Your dad is one amazing man!