Where I come from — the land of Women’s Clubs and thank you notes on monogrammed stationery — people don’t get tattoos. They wouldn’t know people who do. If an offspring with the lineage described above gets one, well then, someone, somewhere, went very wrong.

tattoo_242I am a they and my son has a tattoo. He has five tattoos – that I’ve seen, anyway, but I’m getting ahead of myself. As a reward for being high-maintenance in middle school, Ted asked for pierced ears at eighth grade graduation. As permissive parents who had to pick their battles, we gave in.  I didn’t care much about visual issues at that point and Bush – well, his “yes” was the surprise of the century because he’s a guy who won’t wear a pastel shirt that’s not blue if you paid him a hundred bucks. As he used to say to the older boys in response to why younger bro Peter got things…

Read more

What Just Happened?

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy finds herself swept up in a tornado, lifted and twisted around until she lands abruptly in an unfamiliar place. She is disoriented and confused when she says to her dog, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

As I walked to my car after attending my first meeting of a 12-step program for families of alcoholics, I was Dorothy. “Oh this is special,” I thought to myself as the tears let loose in the dark parking lot. “I have enlisted in a program whose participants’ common denominator is that we love an addict.” What happened to my smaller world where recovery was what one did after surgery, not a discipline to reclaim one’s life from the devastation of substance abuse or the effects of another’s?…

Read more

System Overload

God gives us more than we can handle.  Heck, everyday life in a world filled with people is more than we can handle.  At least it is for me.elephants_web

When our son Ted hit the bottom of his addiction to alcohol and other drugs, my mother took her own plunge into issues of the elderly.  Refusing to let go of her condo, she got stuck in her bathtub one evening-to-morning and the question was called.  Off to assisted living, leaving behind a home of hoarding.  Five days later she had a stroke.  Weeks later she needed to be moved to a place with more care, resulting in Project Dismantle Living Quarters 2.0.  In the meantime she lost her dentures twice, had myriads of long — no, we’re talking LONG – dentist, doctor and hospital visits. I had to make medical decisions way beyond my skill set. Routinely she collapsed to the floor in the unstable antique bed…

Read more

How Many Times?

jail_window“My name is Angie, and I’m an alcoholic,” she said to a group on the recording I played in my car. “As I was talking to God this morning in my prayer and meditation time, I looked out the window at the beautiful bay and said to God, ‘I am amazed – still — after 19 years of sobriety, that I get to be used by You when all I did to deserve it was get drunk and basically screw up my life.”

I listened to Angie’s story of being the daughter of a Baptist minister and drinking her way through her former life, serving prison time repeatedly, bearing two illegitimate children, stealing her mother’s heirloom ring to buy liquor, waking up next to strangers and sleeping on a park bench for weeks at a time without a shower or a memory. Now she is addressing other recovering alcoholics for free as an act of service, telling her story because she was asked. Angie…

Read more


In my bathroom drawer are two curling irons and a blow dryer. I almost never use the curling irons but each day I loosely wrap the cord of the dryer and place it in its home. When I take out a curling iron on occasion, it’s all tangled up in the other two. How does that happen? Those two irons were sitting there. I don’t place the blow dryer under them, in the middle of them or shuffle the cords as I return it. Why is there undoing to do when there was never doing in the first place?             photo

How did Ted’s life get all tangled up when every night I would tuck him into the same bed and shut off the light? I sang Jesus songs to him after we read a book and some Bible with his brothers. Then I kissed him and told him I loved him. It wasn’t complicated. How then did his teenage spirit go missing like the one sock that never came out of the washing machine? I put …

Read more