My dad showed me everything— from how to hold a bat to how cut the cards to how to act in temple. He buffered fears—from the loss of my training wheels through my loss of innocence. And he propped me up—always —be it my spirits or my bank account. Fact is, my father taught me everything there was to know about life except how to live without him. Perhaps that’s why his sudden death caught me flat-footed and his instant vacuum confirmed that THIS Emperor had no clothes and clearly no life skills. So I turned to alcohol.

I never drank to get high; I drank to escape. I never wanted to party, but inside felt pity (for myself). I was sick, and worst of all, I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

So my drinking got worse. Slowly…but steadily worse. With the guys after work. With the guys over cards. With myself.

My marriage was struggling—had been some time. In the old days we’d through money at it. Or I’d talk to my Dad—get a pep talk. “You want to be one of those fathers that only sees his kids weekends?” he once counseled. Our four eyes watering, he kissed my forehead, and in words unspoken urged me “Get back in there and win one for the Gipper”.

Ah, but I was lost without Rockne.

Don’t know what my kids saw, not really…back then. For my protection perhaps, God’s hidden the memories.

But I do know what I saw … for years…

Living alone, my world was shrinking. Imperceptibly but steadily, I was isolating. I would look in the mirror oh so often and ask “How did this happen to a nice Jewish boy like me?”   Sometimes I’d tell myself that “Hey, I had a good run for a long time and now I’m just on a bad streak”.   Some times I’d blame others. “You’d drink too if this happened to you,” I would think.

What I didn’t see— what I didn’t know— is that I was the problem. Frankly, it never entered my mind.

LIfe had turned, it was clear. And I drank, that I knew. But it never occurred to me —not (as my Dad would say) for “one New York minute”, that the two were related. No, this kid with the high SAT scores, this lad that obediently went to twelve years of Hebrew school and never touched drugs—was sick. I had alcoholism.

So I fell
And spiraled

From 1985 to 1997.

I got sober nearly 6,000 days ago. It was not my intention. No, I entered the rooms ’cause of back ache. My friends, you see, were on my back. They were worried, and more.

But I stayed, somehow. And I listened, somehow. And (go figure), everything in my life is much better. Especially me.

Somethings, of course, just haven’t changed. Days are good and days are bad and I make mistakes and life’s still life.

But I don’t escape these days, and never try. And though I never wanted it, I wake up each morn and know each day’s a party. Oh, and my father…(who art now in heaven)? He’s looking down with gratitude, knowing his kid’s got a chance.

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