Welcome to my Blog - What Is A Blog?

A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. ... Your blog is whatever you want it to be.

For many years I have kept a journal, which I don't write in as much as I once did. I have an inner yearning to communicate with the world through writing and pictures Part of my motivation is to leave something behind to a world that has given me so much - a mom, dad, brother, grandparents, a loving wife, high spirited and gifted sons, close friends and loyal customers. Most of us have had some help along the way to get where we are. In my 12 step program, step 12 is about giving back to others. I hope there are posts here that will warm your heart, make you smile and make you think. That is what my blog is all about. I hope you enjoy it. Ken

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Father’s Day is coming up.

I’ve planned a trip to California to see my father. Dad is in his eighties and hasn’t been feeling well. Before leaving for the airport, I have a Father’s Day card I want Sam to sign. Over the phone, I ask if it’s okay to stop by Omegon to have him sign a card for Grandpa. Sam says okay and asks if I will bring him his mezuzah, a religious amulet I gave him as a Bar Mitzvah gift. When Channa catches wind of what Sam’s asked for, she tells me not to give it to him. I don’t listen. I love my son and want to believe he is on the road to recovery. We meet, Sam signs the card and I give him his mezuzah.

I am at my mom and dad’s house in Los Angeles, when the phone rings. It’s Channa. She’s in panic mode. Sam has run again from Omegon with another boy. She reminds me, “I told you not to give him the mezuzah!”

“Shit,” I say out loud. My blood starts to boil. I am infuriated. “Fool me once, shame on you: Fool me twice, shame on me!” When I hang up the phone, my mom says “Kenny, what’s wrong?” I tell her. When dad finds out what’s happened, he just shakes his head. I remind him that I was no angel growing up and he laughs. He reminds me of the time when the police called at two in the morning and how drove to Palm Springs to bail me out. A friend and I were arrested for trespassing after hours at Andreas Canyon Park during Spring Break. Although he wasn’t too happy back then, our eyes meet and we have a good laugh. He says, “do you remember saying ‘Dad, are you pissed?’” He got us released and then turned around and drove another two hours back to LA so he could go to work. I didn’t appreciate dad back then: I sure appreciate him now.

I cut my trip short and catch a flight back home to Minneapolis. After a few days, the boy Sam ran with is caught by the police while trying to board a bus. Sam manages to elude the authorities. A few days later, the phone rings. It’s the police. Sam’s been arrested. Someone called the police when they notice there’s a boy sleeping in the corner of their backyard. Because he hasn’t stolen anything, he is sent back to Omegon. But Peg, the director is mad. She doesn’t want to let him come back. Staying with us is not an option. So the child protection authorities send Sam to a shelter called St. Josephs Children’s Home.

The mezuzah is gone. When I ask Sam where it is, he says the cops took it from him – which is complete bullshit. Why can’t he be honest and tell me the truth?

At home, the phone rings. It’s Sam. He asks if I’ll bring him some fresh clothes over to the shelter. Suddenly – like a pop bottle under pressure, my pent-up wrath of anger, hurt, and disappointment come pouring out.

“How could you sell the mezuzah?” I’m at the point of no return. Sam stepped outside my moral boundary lines. I’m so angry he sold it. I associate the mezuzah as a special spiritual personal belonging – something to keep close to my heart. But to Sam it’s just a piece of gold he could sell for money to perpetuate his self seeking behavior. I’ve been used. I get angrier when I realize Sam set me up. He was planning to run and used me as an instrument to enable him. It doesn’t help that Channa keeps saying, “I told you not to give him the mezuzah.”

So the answer to his question about bringing him fresh clothes is an emphatic “NO.” I tell him I don’t care if you run around in dirty clothes for the next year - I’m not going to help him anymore. The only color I’m seeing is red. While I’m still yelling and foaming at the mouth, he hangs up on me. He calls Barb, his social worker and asks her to bring him clean clothes. Barb calls and Channa puts some clean clothes together for her to bring to the shelter. An addict has no shame in asking and asking until he or she gets what they want.

Peg, the program director at Omegon meets with Sam a few days later, at St. Joe’s Children’s Home. She tells him he can come back but there are no more chances: If he runs one more time he can’t come back. Sam agrees. From this point on we sense a change of attitude – Sam settles back into the program, stops fighting, agrees to take his meds and participates in his treatment.

We start getting positive reports: Sam is now participating more in group sessions and is doing well in school. He receives “the student of the month award” for being the first student at Omegon to read Moby Dick, from cover to cover. One of the many positive qualities at Omegon is the outside curricular activities they make available to the kids. They have a full-time program director. He plans activities for the kids – this includes going to professional sporting events, picnics, comedy clubs, AA meetings (for those willing to attend), and an annual camping trip. The staff wants to show the kids alternate ways of using their free time, besides sitting around and getting high.

I get over my anger about the mezuzah and move closer to Sam again. It seems like we are making some progress. In our therapy sessions, we reach a point where Sam stops arguing with us. He has his opinions but doesn’t explode when we question him about his past behavior and decisions that got him here in the first place.

I learned a long time ago that my nature is to let my impulsive thoughts carry me away. I once shared with a therapist how I hated cold-calling – picking up the phone and calling business people “cold” and trying to make an appointment. I told her I was quitting my job. “I hate cold-calling,” I told her. She asked, “So, Kenny, “what are you going to do after you quit your job?” “I don’t know but whatever I do is going to be better than this,” I told her.

She got real quiet. She turned her head and removed her glasses – I remember her beautiful blue eyes. She calmly said, “Kenny, it’s okay to have these feelings but you don’t have to act them out.” This is probably the most valuable information I ever received from any therapist. I’ll always remember her words. I apply what she taught me and decide to forgive Sam.

I need to remember that my primary focus as his father is to be a positive example. I won’t quit my son. Nope, not giving up!

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