from the San Diego AA Coordinator, January 2008

I just got back from my trip to Kansas City, Kansas, my home town and I actually fly in a jet when I travel now. What’s amazing about this you ask? Well, when I first came out to California I had hitched a ride part way with no destination in mind. Then I stole away in an empty freight train boxcar from Las Vegas to L.A., then bounced my way south from town to town until I hit San Diego and the Mexican border. There I was a homeless drunk living on the streets sleeping in the bushes and under bridges. Drinking daily, in and out of jail on a regular basis was my routine.

This was not too much different from the way I was living my life the last few years before leaving Kansas. The police looking for me as I stayed with people I knew for short periods of time in different places. Sometimes, I slept in abandon houses or in my car, that is, when I had a car.

I was greeted at the airport by my daughter and two grandsons, a three year old and a one year old. My daughter and I were reuniting on the drive to her house while the two boys were just staring at me, sizing me up I guess. After awhile, the three year old began talking. He talked about all sorts of stuff while the younger one continued to stare at me without a sound.

When we made it to my daughter’s house, it was nap time for the oldest boy so my daughter left me in charge of the one year old. He stood up while holding on to the coffee table and a smile finally appeared as I began speaking to him. Then he decided to come over to me so he lowered himself down to his knees and began to make his way towards me. I kept saying things like, “come on, come see your grandpa” while patting my hands on my knees; kind of like I was encouraging a puppy dog to come to me.

The one year old then got on his hands and knees and crawled over to me and pulled himself up to his feet while holding on to my leg. My daughter came back in the room and sat on the floor a few feet away and said, “that’s your grandpa Richard.” With that my grandson began to laugh out loud, turned toward his mom and took two steps before diving into her chest. I thought that maybe I scared him or something. My daughter was so excited. She shouted, “that was his first steps!” then ran to get the baby book to make note of this occasion, “baby’s first step.”

We spent the next 30 minutes getting him to practice more steps. My daughter made the statement that he looked a lot like me. I watched my grandson try to walk, fall down, then crawl to a table pull himself back up and try again. I had to agree — he does look just like me, trying to walk when I was drunk. We laughed because it was true, but there was a sense of relief also because those days were now in the past.

I thought to myself how blessed I am to be here and to be sober so I could enjoy these moments. There were many more special moments like this one that I spent with family and friends over the next nine days of my visit. The time I spent with my grandsons filled me with gratitude and joy. The best part is; I couId feel the love and that I can remember it all clearly because I am sober today. Thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous I have grown from a crawl, learned to pull myself up and have trust in a Higher Power enough to let go and walk just like my grandson.

Richard L.