Recovery: The First Days at Hazelden (2)

Dear Ole Dad ‘morted out’ (died) on 12 Dec. 1992.  He died in the VA Hospital in San Antonio; during the night, alone, miserable and somewhat pathetic from what I was told.  Mom called first thing the next morning and told me of his passing.  By noon Sue and I were on our way down there…

I didn’t necessarily go down to mourn the passing of Dear Ole Dad: I went down to drink.  After all, I had just lost my Father!  And so I did; I drank a lot!  And everybody understood… (what a ‘crock!’)

On Sunday morning I slipped out into the garage and pulled out one of Dad’s footlockers.  He had several he had kept, a few from his early days in the Army.  I sat there alone, with a beer, and looked through everything once again.


In one of the footlockers I found this simple poem:

God, grant me the Serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

I distinctly remember a “sense of calm” came over me as I sat there that morning, drinking my beer, and wondering, “Dad, this is so peaceful.  Why couldn’t you have lived like this?”  And then my “reality’ kicked me in the ass, and I tossed it back into the footlocker and went back inside.

I virtually forgot all about it, until the morning of 1 August 1994, my first morning on the Unit, at Hazelden.  At the end of meetings, the peers of the Unit would form large circle with our arms interlocked on each other’s shoulders, then recite the Serenity Prayer.  It was in that first circle that it hit me, hard!  And I just stood there, crying.  I couldn’t help myself then, any more than I can this morning.  “Dammit Dad, why couldn’t you have ‘gotten it?'”

Soon after I completed my treatment I made a special trip to San Antonio.  Mom picked me up at the airport, and as soon as we got home, I went straight for that footlocker.  And there it was:

The Serenity Prayer

On the back was a stamp that said: “Fellowship Group of AA, Westover AFB, Mass.”  We had been stationed at Westover AFB from 1960 – 1962.

Today this prayer sits on my dining room buffet, and I pray for my Dad’s soul…

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2 Responses to Recovery: The First Days at Hazelden (2)

  1. Bill says:

    Damn, Bobby, that is such a powerful story, one I never knew. Even that far back, Dad realized he had a problem, and I guess he tried to overcome it, but he was too weak. I am so proud of you and your success, I know its a struggle, but one day at a time.


  2. Debbie says:

    Dad died at Northeast Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, TX. I believe that he died a few hours after Mom had just left from visiting him.

    Dad also attended AA meetings in San Antonio when he & Mom were separated. Yes, he struggled. We’ve all had our struggles.

    Footlockers?? I remember Dad had given us each a footlocker. I also remember that mine came up missing when Mom & Dad were separated. t had all of my grade school & high school report cards, keepsakes, etc. Oh, well…

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