AA Coffee

I went to a meeting this morning and saw something that brought a quiet kind of joy to my heart.  Big, quiet joy.  

Several months ago on my way to the meeting, I noticed a woman with a terrible limp walking down the sidewalk.  She looked scraggly and unkempt.  She was walking rather fast for someone with a terrible limp.  About 20 minutes later, she walked into the AA meeting.  She walked over to the coffee bar and fixed herself a cup of coffee.  Then she walked over to the table in the middle of the meeting and grabbed a donut.  Then she made a beeline for the door.

I’ve seen her several times since, always the same routine.  

This morning was different.  She walked into the room when the meeting was about half way through.  She grabbed a cup off coffee and sat down.  There were no donuts today.  After the meeting, I saw people hugging her and calling her by name.  She was smiling!  I was one of the last people out of the room, she looked up at me from her chair and asked if the door was going to be closed.  I told her the Alanon meeting would be starting in a few moments.  Her face lit up, “Alanon!” she said, “do they have a meeting here every day?”  She got to stay in the room.  Who knows what will happen to her.  I love the thought that she will find sobriety there, if indeed, that is what she needs.  

When I drove down the road, I thought of my old friend Tim.  He always said it was the “AA coffee.”  He said if you drank enough AA coffee, eventually you would get sober.

I know it sounds silly, but I have seen it happen.  If you’re drinking AA coffee, you are usually sitting in an AA chair, listening to AA talk.  That stuff can worm into your brain if you are an alcoholic.  

I am also happy to see that we are still the way we were.  Kind to a probably homeless woman who only wants a free cup of coffee.  

I’m glad of that.  



Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

I didn’t mean to leave…

IMG_8492There’s sweet kitty, sitting in the bedroom window.  She is such a good kitty.

I didn’t mean to leave.  I am sorry if I worried anyone.  I always think it is rude of others to leave without notice and cause others needless concern.  I didn’t mean to do that.  I just didn’t blog one day after another.  

My best friend who lives in England wrote me on my birthday, and we have been writing daily ever since.  She will one day vanish, because that is her pattern.  But for now, it is so good to be in touch with someone I know so well, and who knows me.  And having limited free time each day, that has pretty much taken my blogging time.  And I haven’t had much to say.  And, as you know, I am unmotivated to blog when there are no comments.  

I went back to my old new homegroup for my birthday, only because my sponsor and her husband wanted to go there.  It was so good to see so many people.  People I have loved over the years.  I have been going back there on Saturday mornings.  And then my homegroup on Sunday mornings.  Or some combination thereof.  It has been so nice to get reacquainted with old pals.  I have two groups, and that is good.  

But I seem to have two churches, and that is not good.  My parish is a lovely old church, that I think is a little haven in the midst of the modern world.  It is very traditional.  The music is beautiful, an organ and a cantor, the music sometimes latin, but always old.  We have a young pastor from So. America who is just amazing.  Such great homilies, so many insights, so many things I have never even considered.  He isn’t afraid to talk about hell, which I find very refreshing.  The church is 8.5 miles from home.  The congregation is mostly older, maybe 60% hispanic, 10% asian, and 30% white/non-hispanic.  They are not very friendly.  After going to several of their social events and finding myself standing alone feeling awkward, I don’t go to their social events anymore.  

The other church is 1.85 miles from home.  It is a modern church on a mountain, behind the altar is a window, with a view of the mountain and the bikers, hikers, and runners.  I have also seen deer while at mass there.  The pastor tells jokes from the pulpit, also from the altar.  The homilies are often given by deacons, who can say things so outrageous, I have to fight the urge to walk out the door.  The music is more fitting to a hootenanny than a sacrament.  The people are so friendly and welcoming.  I go there when I have one hour for mass, not two hours.  But I often feel very empty when I leave.  

In the last 2 weeks, both churches have asked me to do things.  The friendly church asked me to be a “greeter,” formerly known as usher.  They think I am friendly and outgoing and would be a great “first face” for people to see.  That has very little appeal to me.  I mean, seriously, I want to do something meaningful like feed the hungry, not smile, shake hands, and ask people who get to church on time to squish in so people who arrive late can have a seat.  

The traditional church has asked me to be a lector.  I told them I don’t really read out loud that well, but I would really like to get involved in some way.  My speech is not that great, it is somewhat slurred, always has been.  I talk slowly and almost lisp.  This is not something new though – when I was 16, a young man who did not like me called me a “female John Wayne” because of the way I talk.  The deacon said they would give me a try out.  I am happy with that.  I can trust that God will have his hand, and if I am not meant to be a lector, I will not.  If I am, I am more than happy to.  

See? This is why I like to blog.  I have answered my own question.  Thinking about it over and over again did not lead to an answer, but writing did.  

I’ll be back, and I will try to adjust my expectations about comments.

Buon Giorno.  




Posted in Faith, Mass, Roma | 11 Comments

Back to our regular programming

IMG_8366It’s been a whirlwind of activity around here.  The weekend just past was the first “normal” weekend in what feels like months.  It was nice.

The weekend before, my sponsor and her husband came and stayed with me.  They came for my 30th AA Anniversary.  I celebrated at 2 meetings, and it was wonderful.  I think it was the best birthday I ever had.  No big deals, just lots of loveliness.  One of my friends gave me her recently deceased mother’s 30 year chip, I got goosebumps and cried.  It was so special and deeply meaningful.  She is someone I have known since I got sober and I had spent a lot of time with she and her mother.  Sober women.  Sober family.

There were two people at the meeting at my homegroup that I know were at my 1st birthday.  I think there may be others too, but those two were speakers that night, so I mentioned them in my journal.

Yes, my journal.  I yanked it off the top shelf of my closet and read my entries from my 1st and 2nd birthdays.  Honestly, I forgot.  I forgot who I was.   I felt like I was reading something my daughter would write.  So much profanity!  So much drama!

Over the last couple of weeks, after returning from Montana, I have felt happiness and peacefulness that are not “baseline” for me.  I needed a vacation so badly, I had no idea.  It was also a great, great trip.  I feel rested and relaxed.  And dare I say, happy?

I had lunch with my former boss last week and she told me it was so good to see me so “happy.”  My sponsor’s thank you note said she was glad to see me “relaxed and happy.”

It’s almost scary to write that, but I will just thank God instead of doubting.  Even if it is only for today that I feel so serene, I will just thank God for it and not look for the cloud outside of the silver lining.

Thank you God.


Posted in Friends, Gratitude, History, Sobriety, Travel | 5 Comments

Be it Every So Humble…

A waterfall just inside of the south entrance of Yellowstone National park. My daughter and I stayed there for a while. It was so beautiful.

There’s no place like home. I won’t have to go back to work until Friday. I am grateful to have the days off. I am exhausted.

It was so wonderful to spend time with my son and his family. It was wonderful to fly fish on the Bitterroot River. It was wonderful to swim in a mountain lake with my grandchildren. It was just wonderful all the way around.

Now I am home. Thursday will mark 30 years of sobriety. How can I even write that without it taking my breath away. My sponsor and her husband will be here on Friday. I will celebrate at my homegroup on Sunday morning.

The Grace of God is amazing. An amazement that never grows old.

Posted in Family, Gratitude, Travel | 10 Comments

1,000 miles north

IMG_8377I’ve now seen the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.  They were both breathtaking.  Definitely worth the trip.

But something happened yesterday that I am still processing.  I am traveling with the daughter whose daughters are in the custody of her father, my ex-husband.  They spend the summers in Montana.  We got a call when we were entering into Yellowstone.  My eldest granddaughter wanted to know if we were planning to drive through their town.  We were not.  We quickly changed our plans.

For the first time, my daughter was invited to the MT home of her father.  Since I was driving the car, I was invited too.  He and I, the parents, grandparents, and ex-spouses sat on his beautiful deck on watched the “girls” play.  One of the girls my 35 year old sober daughter, the others her daughters.   This is the man who wouldn’t come to my son’s wedding because I would be there.  Who won’t come to a grandkid’s birthday party if I am going to be there.  Etc.  And yet, there we were chatting.  I felt like crying.

So many years I spent with that man.  He is the father of my children.  It was awfully nice to talk with him.  I told him I liked his beautiful home and I was glad he has it.  I actually meant it too.

Now we are in the new town of my son and family.  We just had lunch with them.  My daughter and son have gone fishing, while I took a nap at the hotel.  I am exhausted after all this driving!  I have seen all four of my grandchildren over the last 24 hours and that is a wonderful feeling.  So many plans for the weekend.  I am very much looking forward to it.

I have just learned about the terrible things going on in the world.  Imagine me spending three days with no media.  Crazy.  But good.


Posted in Family, Travel | 6 Comments

A Silent Goodbye

I got word yesterday that one of my dearest friends in sobriety is in hospice.  I knew he wasn’t well, but I didn’t realize it was this bad.  It is this bad.

When I signed in, I looked at all of the other names before mine, almost everyone on the sheet had come to visit Ed.  Some of the names I knew, some I didn’t.  I said something about the number of visitors to the people at the front desk.  They said he has had a lot of visitors.  I told them I wouldn’t be here today without him.  They looked up at me and told me every single other person had said the same thing.  They said he must be a very special person.

Oh my God, you have no idea.

I sheepishly walked into his room.  His cadaverous body was laying on the bed.  His toothless mouth was gaping as he very slowly breathed.  I said “hi,” but he slept.  I sat down and prayed the Rosary.   As I prayed, the most random memories of him would pop into my mind, and I would cry.  His story about the dog who ate the foam stuffing out of his weight lifting bench, only to have it expand, and his graphic description of the dog “blowing up.”  Now, I don’t think that story could have been true, but it was a great one (I guess unless you find stories about dogs dying disturbing).  He would say the craziest things and do the most bizarre things.  I remembered many of these as I sat and prayed.

I remembered when he first asked me “out.”  We were having coffee and he asked me to go back to his house to “watch rassling.”  Of course, I thought he was joking.  But he wasn’t.  There were six months of these crazy invitations, until I said to him one night “OK, Ed, I call your bluff.  Give me your address and I will be there in a half hour.”  He stuttered and stammered, but he gave me his address, and I showed up.  That was the beginning of the most amazing and bizarre romance of my life.  Oh, how I loved him.  He wanted to love me.  We were really good friends who should never have gone where we went.  But we continued that on and off for 10 years.  He was the worst boyfriend in the world, but he was the best friend a person could ever ask for.

He was the type of man who would do the most generous things and seldom did anyone know it was him.  He laughed and told me about a woman who shared at her first AA birthday that she had never needed to fill up her gas tank for that whole year!  She thought it was a miracle, and I guess it was.  It was the miracle of Ed.  He would bring a gas can to her parked car and fill it up.  Who ever heard of anyone doing that?

He was big on groceries on the doorstep.  A couple of times I found them at my door, and I was always grateful.  Also envelopes with cash in the mailbox, no card, no hint whatsoever that it was from him, but I always knew.  One particularly slim Christmas, he showed up on my doorstep holding a Christmas tree.  He was adorable.  I took it in and he left.

I made him Sunday afternoon dinner every Sunday for many, many years.  He would make fun of the food, but he always ate it all up.  He was funny.  I would serve him beautiful salmon, and he would say it was carp from a local very polluted lake.  Obviously, his humor was not everyone’s cup of tea.  He always made me laugh.

Tonight, I sat and prayed the Rosary and looked at what’s left of his body.  Here’s a guy who is a former Heck’s Angle (sorry to misspell, you get the idea), who has been the victim of multiple gunshot wounds, who has had more accidents on his Harley Davidson than anyone should ever survive.  He has even shot himself (accidentally).  And yet, it looks like he will have a peaceful death, probably with someone he loves at his side.  We do not get to pick the way we die.  I know he wouldn’t have chosen this way.  But it is what he gets.

I am so grateful to have known him for all of my sobriety.  He saved my life so many times.  More importantly, he saved my daughter’s life.

As I was getting ready to leave, a young man came in and sat down.  He introduced himself and told me Ed is his sponsor.  I told him he was a good one.  We sat for a while.

I took leave of my friend, just a simple “Goodbye Ed, I love you.”  That’s it.

That’s all there is to say in the end.

I love you.  And goodbye.

Posted in Love | 5 Comments

My Sponsor’s Coming

My sponsor is coming to visit me for my AA birthday.  I have not seen her for a couple of years, though I speak with her by phone at least weekly.  I had contemplated having a big birthday party, and inviting her, but decided against it.  But, like family, which she is, she has invited herself to come and spend the weekend here.  And I need to be like family and not scrub every surface of my house and go out and buy new sheets and towels, etc. before she comes.  She was wounded last night when I told her my house is not in the shape I would like it to be in.  She said “But Mary, we’re family.”  We are.

She has been my sponsor since just before my 11th AA birthday.  I had a sponsor, a woman I dearly loved.  But my whole base of operations had moved to the other side of town when I took the job at the hospital.  One morning, at the 6:30 meeting, my pal Charlie, may he rest in peace, asked me who my sponsor was.  I told him.  He, who never learned how to mind his own business, told me I should ask Maureen to be my sponsor.  I smiled and let it go, while wanting to tell him to mind his own damn business.  A moment later, Maureen walked in the door.  She NEVER went to that meeting!  I mulled it over during the meeting, decided this might be divine intervention, and after the meeting ended I asked her if she would be my sponsor.

Others sponsors when asked would say “I’d LOVE to!” or “In a New York minute!” or other expressions of glee.  When I asked Maureen, she said she would sponsor me, “if you are ready to work the program.”  I was sober 10 years!  What the hell was THAT supposed to mean?   I couldn’t sleep that night I was so upset by that response.  I was always ready to “work the program!”  And as she got to know me, she learned that.

She moved away maybe 7 or 8 years ago.  She and her husband retired and moved to the western slope of the state.  We visited several times a year, until the last couple of years.  Her health is not what it was.  They despise coming to the big city.  It is a big ordeal for me to get over there.  yadda yadda yadda.

She has been my sponsor for 19 years.  She is extremely important in my life.  She is now sober 41 years, and I will be sober 30 on the 24th of July.  We often marvel at these years, and always end up thanking God, because the “best of our ability” could have never gotten us here.  We call each other “sisters of choice.”

Her red hair is now grey.  Her sparkling blue eyes are now throwing off less sparks.  Her quick, sharp wit has lost its edge.  Her heart though is as true as ever.  I am more grateful for these 19 years with her than I can begin to express.  She knows.  She is as grateful for me.  It is a wonderful gift from God.  Thank God I had the ability to set my pride aside that day and listen to Charlie (which I found painful) and ask for help when I didn’t think I needed any.

I’ll get to see my sponsor and her husband in a couple of weeks!  It won’t hurt me to clean the house after all, right?

p.s., for anyone reading who knows me and my sponsor in “real life,” please read this in the spirit of anonymity.  Please.




Posted in Aging, Friends, Gratitude, History, Sobriety | 1 Comment