Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Hero , My Son Mike

Thursday was the 5th anniversary of our son Mike's death.It doesn't seem like five years ago. No, nor does it seem like yesterday or ever. When asked how many children we have I still answer 4, 3 daughters and a son who lives in Tampa. I can't always bring myself to clarify that he is deceased.

Mike did it all; from alcohol to cocaine.He could charm the skin off a snake.There were always girls earlier, women later who wanted to pickup the pieces for him. When he was in his cups he could be devilish. When sober little kids, puppy dogs and his many friends would follow him anywhere.

For the last twenty years of his life he was a paraplegic living in the Tampa area. In the community he lived in, he was known and loved by all the merchants and his neighbors. In a Persian restaurant they put up a memorial in the dining room with picture and memorabilia
Mike never met a stranger. Condo owners would let him use their pools for his daily swim. He worked part time in a mom and pop insurance agency. They treated him like a mom and a pop in our absence.

The last twenty years,wheelchair bound, were spent in and out of the emergency rooms (mend this)and long extended stays (replace that) in University Hospital. Despite damaged spine and seriously damage to liver, main artery, lungs, arm, shoulder Mike insisted in living independently and "to the hilt". Having survived the operations all the docs agreed Mike was a short timer.

In between hospital stays and morphine drips he would make attempts at getting clean. I can't recall how many treatment centers he went to. Over the years whenever I(we) would go down to help him recoup after the hospital stays we would go to AA meetings together. His pain never took an off day and the need for some relief.

Toward the end (last few years) we became really close. He and I pushed down any and all the walls(almost all alcohol and drug related) that had distorted our relationship. We embraced and loved each other as purely father and son.

The last time I particularly remember. Having spent over a month in the hospital, I help him home. Still too weak I stayed the week to relieve the home nurse from having to help into the tub and for his daily toilet ritual. On one of the days with him in my arms like a baby (fragile and underweight), his head on my shoulder he whispered, "dad I love you".

Yah.... I miss him but I am sustained by the gift of his breath of love in my ear.

Mike was 25 y/o when shot several times/paralyzed
The drunk jealous shooter was also 25 y/o. He was imprisoned 8 yrs.
Died after another imprisonment and
several attempts at sobriety.
All over a girl who later dumped both of them.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Thank God it's not how many times we stumble
but how many times we pick ourselves up
and start all over again.

I’ve run the path,
rarely stopping.
Escaping, pursuing
most times not knowing
what or where.

I’ve ziged I’ve-zaged
to a fancy here,
a dead end there.
Many times
to find the path again
I’ve retraced my steps
and made amends.

Back on the straight
and narrow
pleased yet humbled
I’ve prided myself to be
if not a whole lot smarter
a tad bit wiser.

However tied to ego,
my inflamed I
will have its way
despite for guidance
I thought I prayed.
My plan?
Never again to stray,
yet stray again,
many times I have.

As farther up and down
life’s path I stumbled
I learned this lesson well.
I need not stray,
if before I wander off
I’d pray.
God take my hand,
Lead, I’ll follow.
james frederick m 3.10

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Crawfish Feast

What can I say? It was one of those evenings! A fun night. Had all the ingredients in one place. Three other couples we love. Laughter,place packed to capacity, loud conversations, shouting over a Cajun band playing in the background. An old family pub atmosphere.

The pub, beer only, the brain child of a ruddy faced, constantly smiling, bearded baseball capped Cajun from Louisiana. Old rusty licenses plates tacked to the wall glaring back inviting patrons to travel back down memory lane or better yet let your imagination run wild. Several hundred dollar bills covered with scribbled messages by happy customers wall papered the bar's walls.

When we pulled up into the parking lot, there was no doubt that we had the right place, we had spotted it at once. At curb side the owner was standing before two ten gallon steaming pots with mounds of grayish-black craw-fish awaiting dipping and a new red coat. Propane fired burners, pots and morsels of honor all sat, tailgate down, on the bed of his canary-yellow restored Camino.

Seated inside we were instructed by our waitress that the craw-fish weren't on the menu, they were special;just on weekends during March. The individual servings came in one or three pound tray orders. The tray included the craw-fish, boiled red potatoes,corn on the cob and sausage all boiled in a hot Cajun sauce. We all ordered the three pounder. No beer for us, water would do nicely, thank you.

The laughter got deafening as we all dug into twisting the heads off then sucking the meat out of the tail. Louisiana-Cajun style of eating them as told by the Cajun in our party. Fingers were dripping in grease, faces smeared with red-hot drippings as the shells, claws and other craw-fish parts overflowed in the "off-fall" buckets on the table.

We went through several rolls of paper towels.

On leaving the hugs went all around. We all felt the deepest appreciation that in all of our pasts this wonderful loving evening would have most likely have ended in just one more horror story.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Choices --55 Friday

Mind racing. Can't write.
Resisting , can't let go.
Choices, choices.
Maybe it's the pen, slow pen-fast pen? No.
Black ink-blue ink?
Tight jeans, loose shorts.
Can't be the writer! Hell no!
Broad tip--fine tip? Blank paper--lined paper?
Sh*t-head! Give it up.
Get unstuck,
Let go. Get out of the way.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Foundation -- The First Five Years

Spoke at my own birthday this past month. Spoke for forty eight minutes. Know so, the group recorded it(tape minutes). Coincidence,one minute for each of my years of sobriety. Had notes to keep me from wandering, repeating myself and to cover any of my brain farts.

Identified for a few minutes , short version, then plunged right into the early days in the program. Never got out of the first five years. My growing up years. The years of developing a structure for the relationships with my Higher Power, with myself and with others.

The years of laying the foundation essential for my house of recovery. The formidable years with help from my HP and friends: meetings and 12 step calls; taking inventories and making amends; working my way through the legal, financial, relationship, employment, mental, spiritual, physical maze, and daily practice, practice, practice in living a life sober.

After the meeting I was approached by a newcomer who asked. "With all your years why did you keep returning time and again to the first five years?

Why? because they were the foundation years. The years of reconstruction, no scratch that, not "re" but new construction. They were the years of tearing down the old crumbling foundation and very carefully brick by brick laying a new foundation under the guidance of the Master Craftsman and the sponsor-ship of His hand picked journeymen.

I continue to hone the tools I was taught to use in the construction of that foundation. Some have been adapted to present technology I treasure them because they have served me in the best of times, in the worst of time and everything in between. They have weathered the test of time even when I have been at my weakest.

You all, present AAs included, have given me the gift-for-all-time and the realization that the gift will keep on giving if I assume the responsibility of daily doing my rounds of maintenance.

I wrote this and saved as draft last month. Not fresh, but I didn't find an expiration date on it.

Have a good one.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sunny days are here again"

Sun is shining ---beautiful beautiful beautiful!!!!! Suppose to rain tomorrow and you know what? Let it. I'm living in today and going to enjoy it to the hilt...gratefully.

After last week's teaser, just one day of sunshine and 60 degrees and this past weekend of freezing weather and snow it looks like Spring is going to settle in.

Went to Centering Prayer (meditation) at noon. There are now eight out the fourteen in the group that are in the program. The room was charged with spirituality. The saying "where two or more of you are gathered..." was alive and real.

After not posting anything for a few days I wanted to stop in and share my joy. This is short because I'm out of here and into all that beauty outside.

Hope you all are having a great day.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Burnt Out Ole Flame --55 Friday

I sat there a burnt out hopeless and helpless old flame dying to be lit. Alone I failed so then in desperation I prayed that some greater power would strike the match.
I'm aflame now and glowing brightly thanks to the hand of God and all you matches, wicks, waxes, oxygens that sustain me today.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Joy and the Hum Drum

After such an exhilarating weekend, despite the rain, cold and gray skies, it was back to normal. Well, maybe so, if you define normal as back to the ho-hum tasks of maintaining the house, paying bills, doing taxes, doing the dirty laundry and cleaning out the car from the weekend.

Normal wouldn't be normal though without something household breaking down. No disappointment here. The faucets in the kitchen sink and the dishwasher just stopped doing what faucets do or are suppose to do.

Not to be brought down, not even to normal I went to the noon meeting, always a upper. During the meeting I got to thinking about the title of yesterday's post (Joy & Tennis) and a poem I had written a while back.

My Joy is always present, in the normal as well as the extraordinary, the loud and the quiet, I only have to be still and tap into it. It all starts with gratitude for great friends, my (our) Higher Power, you all and a loving family. A thing of beauty.


A thing of beauty
divinely signed embraces
the human with
a blessing for all time.

The voice quivers.
A sigh of awe escapes.
Body and soul quickens
to the thrill inbound.
For in our dull tapestry of life
the brightest hue is found.

Deep into the marrow
every bone shivers under skin
as by a gentle touch
we're stroked within.

Hearts sing, souls soar
in divine harmony
here on this soil
and in that garden
beyond our toil.

Such happiness
this timeless moment.
Simple and pure
our vision cleared
for heart to see
the grandeur of
Divine love for human secure.

In moments brief
yet eternally dear
their brilliance crowned
in love and harmony
the soul clicks its heels
and bounds with joy.
james frederick m

Have a loving day.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Joy and Winning Tennis

I was going to apologize about gloating over our triumph over the weekend. Well screw it! We Won! It's party time.

We beat the other four states: Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina despite rain delays, alternate courts, flip-flopping schedules and Birmingham traffic. Serenity Prayer paid off big again. We made a clean sweep of all the matches.

Winning over South Carolina (winners the last five years) was like Boston beating New York! We got our T shirts and trophies but really the best part is---we've got bragging rights for one year!

It looks so pretty I just have to post it.
Southeastern Regional Champions-Super Seniors, 70+. (Tennessee)

No Disney World for us. We're sore, bushed and heading for the hot-tubs and liniment for the few days .........with the biggest doggone grins on our faces.

Must acknowledge the One who has made this all possible for us, me especially.
Thank you dear God.


One more shot of gratitude and joy. Our eldest daughter, in from San Diego greeted me at the door when I got home.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

God Help Me

Evening started out terrible. At dinner, group talk ended up in political ranting. Of eight diners I was the only one with opposing ideology. When it turned ugly and they wanted me to join into the fray I backed off. No way, I learned long ago I don't have to go to every fight I'm invited to.

I had an escape plan for situations like this. Before leaving home I had called Central Office in Birmingham. On Map Quest I pulled up directions from the hotel to a meeting. Only fifteen miles away but out in the boonies. Great.

With an hour to spare I took off for the 8pm meeting. Just go out the entrance to the hotel and hang a left then fifteen miles later on the same road, no turns I would be there. A no brainer. Right. No! I got lost, it was pitch dark and no posted addresses on the fields and woods I passed.

Finally I called on my directional finder, GHM, (GOD Help Me). As I crested the hill and on my right I spotted a convenience store. The only only one in miles. I pulled off the side road and came in from the back. Man at front door was talking to a store clerk having a cigarette

I jumped out of the car, saw the address above the door and inquired "is this 16000 east Hwy 280? I'm looking for the 11000s. "

Before the clerk could answer the guy stopped me. "you looking for 11580?"

"Yah, yah 11580."

"We're lost too. Going to the same meeting."

We'hugged. The clerk stood there with her mouth open. The guy and his buddy, a couple of bikers were from Houston. Me, a broken down tennis player from Chattanooga. Both lost in the middle of Alabama nowhere, going to the same meeting.

The story doesn't end there. After getting lost together, we ran into a County Sheriff who directed us to the meeting in an old trailer behind a country church.

My GHM, (directional finder) has and will always, always get me to where I'm suppose to be going. If I call and follow up.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Super Senior Tennis, 70+ , 55 Flash Friday

Heading for Alabama this weekend. The courts of Pelham beckon. Our strings are well strung, our legs a little less so. But we're coming to play, Seniors all, from the Seven Southeastern States. Who'll be the winner. That's a no-brainer. If we can suit up, last three days of tourney play, we're all winners.


Monday, March 8, 2010


They say the the next best thing to having either a boat or a pickup truck is to have a friend that has one. Our friends have both. Not just any boat, its a thirty-five (guess )footer decked out better than my house.

On the lake yesterday three of us couples laughed, hugged and grinned our way through just about a perfect afternoon. If we would have had enough room on deck we would have been doing a jig.

For the first time, since-can't-remember-when the sun was brilliant, the sky bright blue and cloudless. The temp was a Spring time perfect of sixty-one, the wind just strong enough to wash the last of winter off our faces. Yes!!!!!

God was His magnificent Self

We topped this off with a hearty meal of fried oysters and BBQ ribs afterward at the marina. . Talk about silly BBQ sauce dripping grins.

The real kicker was the friends, not any kind of friends but those special friends who have cried and laughed each other out of the pits of A&D hell.

All these ingredients together put a new meaning on "it doesn't get any better than this!"

Since it's Oscar time Ta-Da:
The afternoon was made possible through the grace of a Higher Power and a supporting cast of thousands in the Fellowship who have always been there for us.

Thank You


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Facing Fear-The Rest of the Story

Hey, hey hey!
No return of the Cancer bug!!!!!!
Thanks for your prayers.

Been eight years as of Feb 28 from first diagnosis.
At that time they put me on female hormones. Took the shots just long enough to tweak my interest in "pumps". What really scared me was when traveling in Knoxville and lost I stopped and asked for directions. Relieved when they did radiation.

This past Monday my PSA numbers (blood test) indicated that the little monsters had awaken and were eating away somewhere in this Frenchman. The doctor ordered further tests.
On Thursday I went to the lab and took CT and Bone Scan tests. On Friday (yesterday) I went back to my doctor for results. The Scans indicated "all's well."

Yesterday before seeing my doctor I wrote about Harry Potter and his dance with fear. I think you see why I needed to do that post. I thought and feared the C monsters were in my "closet" licking their chops. Just waiting to devour me.

Between Monday and yesterday I dug into my private stock of "magic" you all have given me. I repeatedly prayed for the right attitude and turned it over to my HP. I put a lot of miles on the Serenity Prayer. I went to meetings, talked about it with friends, meditated and hugged my wife a lot.

The scans opened up my "closet" for the world (brought into the light of day) to see my innards from head to toe. I thought they were awesome and funny looking. My imagined monsters were changed into the everyman normal pouches and squiggles all keep in place by the skeleton in my closet.

love you all


Friday, March 5, 2010

Facing Fear

Harry Potter
Haven't read any of the books but caught a snippet of the TV adaptation the other night. Two scenes, back to back, were great metaphors for me in facing my fears.

The class professor instructed Harry and his school chums to stand in front of this huge cabinet. Each student was to conjure up his/her worst fear. When they did so the imagined fear would throw open the door and leap out. The fears took on the appearance of huge monsters and deadly snakes. Each time the student(s) was petrified with shear fright.

Then the professor would ask the student to imagine in their mind the most ridiculous funny outfit then dress the monster in it. Immediately the monster was seen in a clown outfit/painted face or in some outlandish dress. In disbelief the student and his chums would immediately break out in laughter and dismiss the "monstrous fear" as completely ridiculous.

My greatest fears can be reduced to the ridiculous with the same mind that conjured up the fear.

The other scene was of the monster-bird. His body was that of a horse with wings. His head was that of an enormous bird. His beak could crush Harry or one of his chums in a single closing.
Harry was instructed by the professor to approach the monster and hand-feed him.

At first Harry was reluctant, obviously afraid to take the risk even though the professsor assured Harry that if his intentions were pure the monster would not harm him.

Harry proceeded to do so and the winged monster bird not only did not harm Harry, but placed Harry on his back and took off. Monster and boy soared high into the sky giving Harry the thrill of his life. The view of the mountains and sky were awesome. He had flown where no one else had.

If I take the risk and face my greatest fears there is no limit to how high I can soar.


Everything But Roadkill

First attempt at 55 Flash Friday

Busy week
Up, down the highway
Chattanooga to Nashville
Not once, twice.
Seven hundred miles
Once business
Once pleasure
Mountains, rivers, dams
Evergreens, gray forests
Snow, rain, sunshine,
Day, night.
Trucks, cars, RVs, SUVs, with
without TVs.
Cars stalled, flagged, semi flipped,
wheels flaying sky
Irritated drivers cursing delay
Country music , jazz, rock,
roll on.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I attended another Alcohol/Drug convention at Opryland in Nashville. Nashville, the Music City, the home of Country Music. Actually you couldn't forget it while you're there. This is a place where every waiter and waitress in every eatery are aspiring writers, musicians and singers.

Enough of the commercial and getting back to Opryland. In a word it is huge, all in the Southern motif and customs. Especially the way it is laid out, even security when asked for directions calls in another employee to help them. The southern part comes in when they give directions. They never refer to the "street" by name. They will tell you to go that-a-way till you come to the this corner or that then take a left an go on down till you see the big fountain then get the drift.

Mix in a few hundred alcoholics/addicts and each one had a bigger and more dramatic story about how they got lost, couldn't find their rooms, pasted up a gillion bars until finally their higher power guided them down this one unused corridor. There they ran into the only person in the hotel complex who knew how to get them to safety.

I exaggerate, but not much.
Wrote this to get back on stream with my posting. Its been a busy week with lot of travel time, but I've been in excellent company from all over the States.