One of the gifts of Al‑Anon, for me, has been that I’ve gained the ability to see my loved ones who suffer from alcoholism with “new eyes”—to see their positive qualities, not just their defects. My father was one such person in my life who suffered from the disease of alcoholism. Thanks to Al‑Anon, the story I am sharing here is what I think of when I think of my dad these days.
It happened on Valentine’s Day, 1967, when I was five years old. It was a typically cold, blustery day in Canada. I remember being excited and filled with joy that day because I had gotten a Valentine’s Day card from every other kid in my kindergarten class. I was so excited that I couldn’t wait until I got home to look at them; I had to take them all out when I was only about halfway there. I did this beside a ditch and a pond that ran behind my house.
Immediately, the wind blew all of my precious Valentine cards out of my hands and into the ditch and pond. The pond was a slushy, mucky mess. There was no way to retrieve them, and I ran the rest of the way home crying. I had lost my treasures.
My dad happened to be home from work early that day. He worked in a large company and was in a liaison role to the public, so his work “uniform” was a suit jacket and tie, good pants, and dress shoes. What happened that Valentine’s Day was that my dad came back out with me to the pond behind our house. He walked into the slush and mud in his good suit and shoes and carefully, with love, retrieved each Valentine card for me, even though some were already ruined. He sloshed through the mud and cold water up to his waist in the middle of a Canadian winter, retrieving pieces of paper that were precious to a crying five-year-old boy. It was his finest hour.
Al‑Anon has given me the ability to see my dad as he truly was: not someone who was bad, stupid, or morally weak, but someone who suffered from an illness over which he was powerless. He was my champion. Al‑Anon helped return my champion to me, not because he changed, but because I changed. I could finally see my dad in a way that I believe my Higher Power sees him, with compassion and love.
By Steve H., Ontario
The Forum, February 2023
Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.