I think this is going to be one of those “life explaining moments” posts. I am sitting here at the little house on the lake, I am out on the porch, I have the wood stove going, Buttons the wonder dog is sitting on the couch, it’s 18 degrees out with a cold west wind blowing across the lake, the notebook is charged up, I got th blues on the radio and I am in a pensive mood.
If any of you have followed this blog from way back when you all know winter is not my favorite time of year. And if you haven’t followed me for a long time well now you know winter is not my favorite time of year. First, I don’t like the cold, and having to tow cars means I am out in it quite a bit. Second the end of the year is always the hardest time financially for me, the car insurance, house insurance, car registrations, water and sewer taxes, and on and on. This year I have an extra three grand I have had to spend on Tonya and my vehicles so we can continue to go to work. And Christmas is just around the corner which also tends to get me down, mainly because, and I know it isn’t about gifts, but it would be nice to be able to afford some anyway.
When I drank a lot, this time of year was always the time I would drink more than normal. Way back when my father had the grocery store, this was always our crazy season, from about the second week in November until New Years Day we were out straight, and there was quite a bit of stress. This led to drinking more than usual. After I left the store, it was in the winter when I would always feel bad about leaving and hence I would drink more. The thing about drinking is you drink because you think it will make you forget but instead, at least with me it always made me remember.
But then I guess it was my drinking which made me really believe there is a God. I admit I was never one of those religious type of people, hated to go to church, hated CCD, and as soon as I could I got away from all that. I figured if there was a God, then things would be better I guess, I don’t know, I only know I wasn’t a believer. And in those days I was pretty bad. I did some things I am not too proud of when I think of them. Screwed my life up pretty good I guess. I’m not saying it was all because of my drinking, it wasn’t, some of the things I did made me drink more and my drinking made me do things I shouldn’t have done which caused me to… well you get the picture.
It was in the winter, I don’t remember what year, but things were pretty bad. I was on the fast road to hell. One of my uncles had passed away and I left the store to go to his funeral. It was held in a small church in a small town not far from here, and as I sat there I remember looking up at the ceiling and praying. And I still remember what it was I said.
“God, I’m not sure if you really are there or not, but if you are we need to talk. I know I ain’t been leading the best of lives here and doing a lot of things I shouldn’t be doing. I’m pretty f***ed up. God, I know I haven’t led a real religious life and I can’t guarantee you I’ll be going to church every week or reading the bible, but you got to help me. You have to show me the way. Give me some kind of sign as to what I need to do and I'll do my best. That’s all.”
After the mass, I went back to work. As I opened up the back door to the store, there was a man on the other side. It was a man who used to work for my father and had left to start his own business. He too had a drinking problem and a gambling problem and it had destroyed his business. That day he had closed it down and had come to ask me to buy the food stamps he had been collecting from him. He was grey and old looking, he wasn’t more than 40 but looked 70. His face was drawn, his hands were shaking, he looked dead. He was crying. I helped him out and he left.
That night I couldn’t sleep. Each time I closed my eyes, I could see his face. Early in the morning it came to me, if I kept on the way I was going, that would be me. That was my sign from God. I wish I could say I stopped drinking right then and there, but I didn’t. Well I did but fell off the wagon, got back on, fell off again, for several years after. The difference was I never let myself get as bad as I did before this happened. I still screwed up with other things in my life, but at least I knew that there is a God who listens. And although it took about another ten or so years, I finally got my life together. Oh I will still have a drink now and then, but not like I used to, and now that I have the love of my life here I don’t ever feel the need anymore. When I get down, I look at her and she reminds of what I have and it’s all good.
And since that day I was giving the sign, I guess over 30 years ago now, I have had to ask for some help a couple of times, and He has always been there when I needed Him. But what that whole incident really did for me, was it let me know He is there. He is watching me, and just knowing that has made me less afraid, I know when I really do need help, He will be there again.