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Grapevine : June 2011
M y father’s alco- holism broke up my family when Iwas17.Inthe next six years be- tween then and his death, I spoke to him only a handful of times. I was there when he was on his deathbed. At age 60, he looked like an emaciated well-known comedian, his eyes like saucers due to his wasted body. The hospice he was in allowed him to continue drinking as he only had days left. He was unable to communicate verbally. I had no idea what to do. I mean, what do you say to a family member who you haven’t spoken to in a civil manner in almost a decade and who is about to die? I made some excuses and left for the pub. The look my father gave me when I left his room has haunted me almost every day. Did he hate me? Did he see through my own disease? What? My father died the next morning. I drank for another 12 years, to the point of spiritual and emo- tional bankruptcy. I had a white-light experi- ence responding to a ques- tion at a bar: “James, why are you so drunk?” Not the first time the question had been asked of me, but the first time I had absolutely no answer. The next day, I phoned a Death of a father to make coffee whenever possible, to chair as many meetings as possible and to sponsor as many people as pos- sible. These actions are positive, and it was good to do them, but I blanket- ed them all with a misunderstanding that responsibility was a heavy and unwelcome obligation. Drinking had been a survival skill to bury the burden of responsibility. But now, without drink, burdensome responsibilities remained. Thank God, my friends in AA saw me as a good person with a very sick outlook on life. They continually pep- pered me with slogans such as “Easy Does It,” “Don’t just do something, stand there,” “God is in charge, you’re not,” and “Let Go and Let God.” I became willing to act “as if,” and tried to follow my sponsor’s sug- gestion to take off my Superman cape. Then, one day, my Higher Power gave me an insight into responsibility that continues to change my life, a day at a time. My Higher Power let me see that responsibility could mean “response ability.” With his help, I am able to respond to any circumstance in life. I received that gift when I was able to respond to HP’s invitation to join AA. In this truer sense, responsibility is a gift, not an obligation. Accepting this gift, a day at a time, has kept the bur- dens off my shoulder and given me untold opportunities to experience the joy (sometimes painful joy) of re- 42 June 2011 GRAPE_41-43.indd 42 4/29/11 1:08 PM