Magazine

From the June 2013 magazine.

June 2013: The happiest boy in the world

It wasn't the baseball glove that gave him joy, it was his dad's first anniversary

My dad was an alcoholic who spent very little time with my siblings and me. When he did, he was usually drunk and made a fool of himself and embarrassed us. I swore that I would never be like my father. When my own children were growing up, I went to as many of our kids’ events as possible. My job, which required a lot of travel, prevented me from going to some. When my oldest child was 6, I bought him the best baseball glove that money could buy. However, he wasn’t able to use it until he was in junior high because it was too big for his hand. Until he had grown up enough to wear the glove, he used one that my wife picked up at a yard sale for a couple of bucks.

When our kids were 4, 6 and 8, my employer sent me to a treatment center. During my stay, I was introduced to AA. Part of the program at that hospital involved family members confronting the alcoholic. I knew my wife was coming to confront me, but I figured that my kids were too young to join her. I was in for a surprise: our oldest, Paul, also came. I took my wife’s criticism without feeling too badly. When the counselor had me face Paul, I had no idea what he was going to say. He mentioned a few times that I had embarrassed him, but he didn’t say anything earth- shattering. Then the counselor asked him to look at me and tell me what he wanted most. Paul told me, “I just want a daddy like other boys have.” I cried like a baby and still get teary-eyed when I think about that. That was more than enough to make me give up all my defenses and decide to really try to be a better dad—and that included staying sober.

-- J.S.

Grand Marais, Michigan

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