Yesterday a face stared right back out at me from the pages of a newspaper. It was Garry. He had been arrested for DWI after being pulled over when a cop noticed that he didn’t have a seatbelt on. (I forget how many times for DWI this makes for Garry, but it has been quite a few.)

I saw it after goofing off on Facebook. I happened to see something else of interest in my hometown newspaper’s feed, and after posting it, decided to go to the paper’s site and poke around to see what was going on back there. I went to the “Police Blotter” page, which was always amongst the first parts I’d go to after the obituaries just to see if anyone I knew was listed.

I haven’t seen or heard from Garry in perhaps 6-8 years, since I was last active in AA there. I had wondered if he was even alive.

Garry was always kind, compassionate and understanding with me, despite my not being exactly a poster child for recovery in those days. Or maybe because of that. It seems that he was hurting and suffering more than I. Yet despite very different backgrounds we struck up a friendship. He was a high-school only-grad, if that, and a blue-collar working stiff and I was edumacated in colledge. But then again, in the rooms of AA, “We are a people who normally would not mix” -AA Big Book, page 17)

I have always wondered about Garry since I last saw him. I had always been grateful for his friendship back in the day when I lived at home. We never hung out outside of the rooms of AA, but chatted on the phone when needed. He was also a convert to the Catholic Church (mainly because of his wife, who ended up leaving him on Christmas Eve in 2002 or ’03).

Seeing his picture was a shock, although I shouldn’t have been too surprised. He had been in AA before I started attending meetings, and so I looked up to him, even though I later figured that his sobriety was shaky. I think a part of it was the difference in backgrounds and my amazement that the “We are a people who normally would not mix” bit wasn’t just a saying, but a living and working part of the AA way. For some reason I felt that it validated my membership. I don’t know why, as the “only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” I had that, and so was in, but still… He was a scruffy drunk and fit the popular image of alcoholics in AA meetings, and so maybe that was it.

His sobriety, like I said, was never strong. It would last for a few months or so, maybe a year, and then something would happen. He’d hide it well, but his sponsor knew and I learned. This is why that although seeing his picture was a shock (maybe over discovering that Garry is alive), I wasn’t too surprised. He seems to be one of the ones for whom sobriety and serenity is elusive.

This part sounds weird, but I always thought it would be awesome that if we all make it to Heaven, his Heavenly mansion should be next to mine. I don’t know why I’ve had that imagery in my mind from way back then, as I’ve had better friends, but dang it, I want him to be one of the ones to make it (I know, we all want everyone to be saved, but we do know that not everyone does and I really want him to be one of the ones. AND I wanna hang out in Heaven with him for eternity. It’d be an epic blast.)

And so I am praying for him. I started a Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe for Garry. It will end on January 8th, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord. Not a bad day to end a Novena for an alcoholic. If I lived closer, I’d visit him in jail. He would be surprised to see me, and probably surprised a little at my 9 1/2 years of sobriety. Happy though. I cannot afford the travel, gas and even one overnight stay is too costly right now. I may try and send him a letter.

I wonder who else saw the piece in the paper and is reaching out.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"


  1. Sad and too often a repeated story over and over. It’s frustrating and Garry is very fortunate to have a friend like you thinking and praying for him. Garry is in His hands and your prayers are being heard. There’s time. As you know, for many that precious time is gone.

    A few years ago Vince got really sick with cancer and was in the hospital. We were meeting up at the hospital to see him. I arrived first, and was really trying to figure out how to wait for the others. Vince’s problem was not really a problem. Every one else really had a problem, and Vince was just going to get all the money and the lifestyle back. Biggest whiner and funniest guy you’d ever meet. I thought to myself, “Great. He’s really going to have something to complain about now.” I know, not my best moment. So I sat down and we talked. Surprisingly enough he didn’t complain at all. This stay in the hospital was just a hiccup in his awakening of all he was going to do for others and the charity he was going to do. He was beaming and smiling. He got it! I was excited for him. Vince never left the hospital, and the Lord took him one week later. I am so grateful for that little bit of time him and I had before he left.

    Keep praying. Garry’s in my prayers too.

  2. Thanks. Somewhere/somehow Vince came to terms and accepted. The operation of free will and the workings of the Holy Spirit sometimes mystify me. At times I figure it out (so to speak) and them I am more mystified 😉 .

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