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Grapevine : August 2010
I MET my friend Walter one Christmas Day when I took my children to a nursing home to do service work. They walked around with me, passing out decks of playing cards, pairs of socks and sugar-free candies. We passed a table where a man in a wheelchair was talking to a friend. I heard him say something about "the Big Book" and "the Steps," so I stopped and asked if he was a friend of Bill W. He was. I introduced my- self and he told me he'd been sober for about 25 years. He couldn't get to meetings much anymore because he was in this home, stuck in a wheelchair. It was hard for him to get around, so I offered to bring a meeting to him. Once a month, I'd visit Walter in the nursing home for a Big Book study. Sometimes a friend or two would join us, but mostly it was just me and Walter talking program. If I couldn't go, one of my sponsees went in my place. I had been sober for a while by then, but I learned a lot about recovery listening to Walter's stories. It turned out, by the way, that the conversation I'd overheard on Christmas Day was the first time he'd spoken about recovery to anyone at that nursing home. A few years later, I moved away and Walter changed homes. We lost touch for six months, but he found me again right around Christmas. My husband and I had just sepa- rated, my sponsor was out of the country, and I was having a very hard time. I'd put the kids in bed around nine, then wash dishes and straighten the house. At ten, when my work was done, the fears would rush in. That was when the phone would ring. It would be Walter, call- ing to say hi. I don't know how he knew exactly when to call, but that voice on the phone got me out of my fears and back into grace. We'd talk about the weather. He'd tell stories about his childhood in the South. He told me about the jobs he'd held. And we talked about recovery. Walter was almost 70 when I met him and he still referred to his parents as "Mama and Daddy." My fa- ther has never talked to me as much as Walter did. Even when we have the opportunity, he's too busy, too dis- tracted. Walter took time to listen to what was going on in my life. When he had experience, strength and hope to share, he shared it. When he didn't have a clue, he reminded me to turn it over to God. Over the years, there were times when I needed Walter's help and My father has never talked to me as much as Walter did. Grapevine 25