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Old 08-25-2012, 03:04 PM
Charlie Charlie is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 164
Default One small step for a man

I live with a very old friend.

15 years ago he took me under his wing and taught me how to take care of his very big, very old home. It is a labor of love, a gentle, frustrating art that requires much thought, patience, and skill. I have come to understand old buildings as living, breathing things. Like people, they are idiosyncratic and need to be fussed over.

After many years of doing different things elsewhere, I am now the live-in caretaker of his building and its six apartments. When I moved in, his alcoholism had reached a point of no return: he had stopped working, shut himself in, and succumbed to depression. He was a mess and so was his building.

If you have been witness to the ill effects of the illness we call alcoholism, then you know the collateral damage it does. It is a painful process to watch. Friends and loved ones begin to turn away when they can no longer stand to participate in or be witness to the chaos. During my tenure here, my friend has fallen countless times, collecting wounds like merit badges with each crash to the floor. His last gravitational test earned him a trip to the hospital with a broken hip...

We cannot save other people from themselves, nor can they save us. To believe so is a kind of folly, usually a folly of kindness. Those of us who care deeply often care for others more than we care for ourselves. In the end, all we can do is this:

Reach out, lovingly, while our loved ones cry out in pain, and say to them, in a kind of whisper or shout, "I have noticed that you are standing on your own foot. Perhaps you could stand in some other way that would be more comfortable?"

A broken hip was the best thing that could have happened to my dear friend. He detoxed safely in the hospital and began the long road to mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and personal recovery. He has stumbled, but he has recognized his value to the world around him.

It is nice to have my friend back.

I, for my part, conspired with others to convince him to get a kitten.

Kittens, in case you are not aware, are kind of a big deal.

Last edited by Charlie; 08-25-2012 at 04:55 PM.
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