The Difference

I was at a small birthday celebration for a friend Friday night when I overheard one of the attendees talking about being a foster parent. I listened as best I could over the din of the bar. You should have heard this woman talk about some of the kids she had come through her house – she talked with joy, pride and sadness, sadness that some of them were now back in danger again. She’s also a teacher, elementary school I think, and that in itself should be considered a superhero, the foster parent doubly so.

I’m a product of Foster Care, I wasn’t really in any danger, but I was one of those kids that lacked proper supervision and was amok in most parts of my life. When I entered my foster home for the first time I tried to talk myself into running the first day – nothing bad had happened, but these people just didn’t understand me and couldn’t possibly keep up with me. My Ma had plenty of foster kids before me and was more than a match for my teenaged ideas of right and wrong.

My Ma and Pa held me responsible for my own actions – I had to wake up to my own alarm clock for school each day, I had chores, I received allowance, I had dinner every night at the table with the family (seemed stupid at the time, but it was something I came to look forward to each day and long for today). In my foster home I didn’t fear anyone coming home drunk in a rage to beat up anyone else, I didn’t worry about having food for dinner, I found peace. I wrote a poem about it a few years ago you can find here: (Foster Home) and I’ve pasted it here too

brown house now blue

gray hair then and now too

Ma in rocker knitting

Pa in recliner

fear crawls up my spine

my bags packed, all that is mine

social worker pressures shoulder

keeps me from running

dinner together, conversation and laughter

alien world, foreign notions – food a plenty

tears delay that first night,

though hard fought, buried deep

rules, responsibility, chores

wake up myself for school

wash dishes, mow lawns

allowance? what’s that?

foster brother and i

share smokes and stories

on the front patio

now enclosed, then exposed

three years teach me, show me love me

five years gone, back i come to make right

show them i’ve found the light

love unconditional, no exceptions

dc bound, to find my way

just call anytime

no questions asked

you can always come home

breast cancer scare,

tears unhindered

stream down my cheeks

fear strikes deep and hard

twenty years later, college bound

ma and pa, rhonda and greg

come to see the sites,

nope!

to see me off, wish me well, show me love

the family i didn’t choose

forced upon me by action of youth

became the one that mattered most

showed me the truth of love itself

When my Pa died a few years ago it … it still brings tears to my eyes… I decided to change my name to honor him. That’s the kind of impact they had on me – I owe my life to them (to AA too, yes) and have had so much opportunity as a result of everything they gave me.

I’m not a foster parent, I’m not very patient with kids, but I urge you to be. I urge you to be the person that makes a difference in the life of a child, show them that not all parents are irresponsible, hurtful and mean. Show them a path that leads to a better life… and make sure you hug them, kids need hugs.

Here are some links about foster care, if you’re interested give them a read and help make a difference.

http://www.adoptuskids.org/for-families/how-to-foster

http://www.fosterparents.com

http://nfpaonline.org

http://www.kidspeace.org/Foster.aspx

Friends, Memories and Time

In May of 1988 I graduated high school with a whole bunch of people I hardly knew. See I’d been at G-E-T High (that’s really the name of the school) for only 2 years after I’d been shipped off to foster care because I was a dirty rotten thief – actually, more of a petty thief or a snatch and grabber… To be fair, I can only recall a handful of the folks I went to school with in Whitehall also and I spent many years in elementary and high school with those folks.  – I think drugs did a lot to my memory….

GET High

GET High

It was mentioned to me that it’d be nice to get together and I created a Facebook group and invited a bunch of the old gang. A year later we all actually showed up. Some of these people I hadn’t seen in 22 years. People get new jobs, join the military, marry, move a million times and disappear from our radar – one good thing about Facebook is the ability to find some of these folks again.

We had a dinner Friday night at Wason’s Supper Club outside of Galesville and most of us were there, we quickly fell into old patterns of solving the worlds problems and rolling our eyes at one another. Time may have come and gone but we are all basically the same people – the same friends – we were back in school.

Saturday we had a bar-b-q, and even with a few of us getting lost we all managed to find our way to the old cabin where we used to do all manner of things which young people do that they are encouraged not to :-). Someone found a radio station that played old 80s music and we all brought food and drinks.  Just being in the cabin stirred up all kinds of old memories:

beer parties

pot smoking

don’t worry the alcohol will kill whatever is wrong with you, just take a sip

warm fires in the cold winter

getting snowed in for a few days and running out of booze – that was terrible, running out of booze is unforgivable

the old nicknames: Burnout, Sleazy, Zeus… more I can’t recall

I had to head out early and didn’t get to chat with all of my old friends as much as I would have liked, but it was nice to see them. They are people that help make me who I am today a million different ways and I’m glad I had them in my life them and hope that i’m lucky enough to have them in my life for however long I have.

Like Passengers of a Great Liner

I attended the SRI Roundup this weekend – well as much as I attend roundups: I went to the Friday night speaker, the Saturday banquet and Saturday night speaker. I would have attended the Sunday morning speaker which I normally associate with the “spiritual” talk, but they do it differently here – here it’s a local person on Sunday’s and I figure I’ll hear them ranting eventually in a meeting so I can stay home and do chores.

Friday nights speaker was the energetic Katie P from Austin, TX. She told a very powerful story and it hit all the right points, I really appreciated her talk. She was funny at times, told of tragic happenings and stressed the importance of the Big Book, the Steps and even the Traditions. During her talk she talked about having “meeting based sobriety” which is different than “solution based recovery” and it was just right.

“The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined.” Alcoholics Anonymous, page 17

The fellowship is not sufficient on it’s own for real recovery from alcoholism was what she was relaying to us. In her experience she spent decades going to meetings for the sake of going to meetings before she needed something more. When she finally hit a spiritual bottom while sober for quite a while she found real solutions in the Book.

I myself never found a need to go to more than a few meetings a week, it would seem odd to stop going to bars and hangouts only to now to to AA houses and fellowship things. To be recovered we become a part of society again and that’s all society not just the rooms of AA.

Here in Phoenix I hear people say they are going to meetings two times a day, seven days a week and it just baffles me, these people have 20+ years and say they have to do that to maintain their sobriety… I say, there is a real solution in the book that will show you precisely to recover from alcoholism – and that solutions doesn’t mention 4 hours each day in AA. Going to meetings every day is “meeting based sobriety”, going every day to get a small spiritual fix in a meeting when a real solutions is in the action described in the book is insane.

The AA program is threefold: Recovery, Unity, Service – we need all three.

The Saturday night speaker was a “slogan slinger” he had a lot of slogans and stories to tell, most of them not his. It brought lots of laughs and claps, but it wasn’t his story really and that would have probably been a better talk.

 

Once more into the breach, dear friends!

My friend Jana is fighting Cancer and needs help paying for the very expensive drugs. If you can, please donate to them.

A Cancer Journey & Plea for Aid

Well, we met Dr. Adams this morning, in Jana’s initial consultation for her chemotherapy. $260 just for the office visit, and that was with self-pay and prompt-pay discounts.

We return on Wednesday to undergo our “Chemo Training”, which would appear to be a roughly 1 hour info-dump on the treatment. We do know that immune system will be depressed, hair will be lost, and that Jana will be tired and worn out. The treatment is carbo-platinum-taxol (or something to that effect) and that there are umpteen other possible side effects.  Most dangerous appears do be liver or kidney damage/problems/side effects.

Therefore, they do labs…a lot. Initial labs, labs the day of a treatment cycle, and labs 10 days post-treatment. And they use LabCorps, which means incredibly overpriced. <sigh>   Each cycle is one infusion (IV) which should take 4-6 hours and it will be repeated twice more, at three-week intervals, for…

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