Graduation Day

In 2003 Scotty wore a cap and gown and I was so proud we had made it to this day because sprinkled in were the infancy of drug addiction and alcoholism, but our, “YETS” had not come at this point. I was also elated because I had a secret, I was about to run off and marry Hugh Smith the next day.  But graduations of a different kind have brought me more joy than any cap and gown and grade point average could ever bring.  And I think God knew that Hugh Smith would be the catalyst for recovery that he would not live to enjoy or to celebrate, not here anyway. 

Let me go back a little and give you a piece of my unfiltered heart.  There was a time when it seemed like all my friends were comparing notes and being so proud of their kid’s college experiences and their scholarships and all the accolades that go with that. I would self consciously laugh and say well my kids are graduating from rehab…. AGAIN.  

As far back as I can remember but mostly starting at age 7 many of my Christmases and frankly most holidays were spent visiting my father at a rehab or some type of recovery. My friends were the adults in the smoke filled AA rooms. Their hoarse voices and big hugs were a huge part of my childhood.  At age 10 I felt 20 and over responsible and many times so embarrassed by the actions of my family. Yet, already I knew that God had more for me and wanted me to find a life of value and purpose not after all of it but in the middle of it.

I SWORE AS AN ADULT, I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO  GROW UP IN AN ALCOHOLIC HOME  BUT I WOULD NOT DO THIS EVER AS AN ADULT.   Part of my decision to be this way was born out of so much pain, confusion and just not knowing from day to day what would happen. Any security that I had was because my incredible mother did her best to keep it together and I retreated into a world of books and scripture and trusting God, but being embarrassed over my family was always there.

Fast forward and life with 2 sons that were enslaved to drugs and alcohol was at the center of all our lives. We were being ruled by those who had no control over their lives but yet it was running ours. I knew that based on my childhood that the only way out was for me to continue to cling to my faith and realize that I had absolutely no control over the actions of others.  Thankfully because of that faith I have been able to lead a life of joy and hope and so many wonderful things sprinkled in….. But at the heart of all that  was the prayer of a mama who was crying out to God to save my sons. I lamented at the lives they could have but they were  losing each day to their addictions. There was no rhyme or reason, drugs don’t care!!!  Addiction is no respecter of persons or position.  It does not happen because you are not a good parent or you failed your kids or loved one in some way. 

So now to the really happy part of this graduation story.  Sheldon graduated from his program and started a beautiful life of sobriety in a less protected environment, this past year.  His life is like a country song backwards, he got a car, a home, his life back and a relationship with his kids. He did not walk the stage nor did he get a cap and gown. What he did get was a one day at a time chance to live a better life and in turn help those around him do the same.  Witnessing this new life, this new man is one of my most grateful life gifts.

Now tomorrow his brother graduates from his as he calls it,’ the best education he has ever gotten!!!”  Scotty feels like he has been given the greatest gift and he can hardly believe his good fortune. This week he said, “Everywhere I turn, life is working out for me!!!” Ha, he sounds like his mama!!!

So today this mama is so proud of what these sons of mine are doing and what they will do one day at a time. Seeds were planted by my precious Hugh Smith of what it looks like to live a sober life of honor and integrity. Of what it looks like to give your life away so that you can keep it. Of what it looks like when you are rigorously honest with yourself and others. Of what it looks like to be open about your addiction and your struggle. Of what it looks like to be thankful and be able to say that you are a grateful and recovering Alcoholic.  And that you would not trade any of it for the life you have today.

Tomorrow as Scotty graduates, I promise I could not be more proud if I was watching him walk an ivy league stage!!!  Because I was a front row witness to what happens when you live a life of recovery and you make the main thing the main thing. Your life becomes so rich and so full and so abundant that you can hardly believe it is your life. And you want to pass it on. 

So tonight, I am not that scared and embarrassed little girl ashamed of her family. I am one proud mama!!!!  

As Scotty graduates tomorrow, I see Hugh smiling at Jesus and being so proud of this graduation day.

6 thoughts on “Graduation Day

  1. I remember that night on 2003 and how you shared that secret with me….so proud of Sheldon and now Scotty! Hug him from us…

  2. Karen, thank you for sharing this personal story about your family. What an awesome testimony it is. I’m so happy for you & your sons! May God continue to bless you & your family!!!

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