From the August 2010 magazine.

LISTENING TO WALTER

Through the hard times, there's a voice on the end of the line

I MET my friend Walter one Christmas Day when I took my children to a nursing home to do service work. They walked around with me, passing out decks of playing cards, pairs of socks and sugar-free candies. We passed a table where a man in a wheelchair was talking to a friend. I heard him say something about "the Big Book" and "the Steps," so I stopped and asked if he was a friend of Bill W. He was. I introduced myself and he told me he'd been sober for about 25 years. He couldn't get to meetings much anymore because he was in this home, stuck in a wheelchair. It was hard for him to get around, so I offered to bring a meeting to him.

Once a month, I'd visit Walter in the nursing home for a Big Book study. Sometimes a friend or two would join us, but mostly it was just me and Walter talking program. If I couldn't go, one of my sponsees went in my place. I had been sober for a while by then, but I learned a lot about recovery listening to Walter's stories. It turned out, by the way, that the conversation I'd overheard on Christmas Day was the first time he'd spoken about recovery to anyone at that nursing home.

-- A.D.

Texas

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