I was all set to write about three rides I had this Saturday morning when I was reminded that tomorrow is my AA sponsor’s 43rd birthday. I write this with his permission; you will notice his picture. The three rides I took, although interesting stories—can wait. Richard is now 91 years old, his mind is sharp, his heart is full, and his body is ever so slowly diminishing. I went to see him this morning in a rehab facility near his home in Capitol Hill. I spent about 45 minutes visiting with Richard and when I finished I thought “I need to write about this most remarkable man”. We had just finished listening to the last eight minutes of Mozart’s Requiem, which I had recorded about a month ago in the Cathedral at Salzburg, Austria. I’ve also included for your listening pleasure a 30 second snippet. In my 31 years in AA I’ve been fortunate to have four great sponsors. A sponsor is somebody who has what you want, and is willing to share their experience, strength, and hope with you as you work through the steps and learn how to live life on life‘s terms without self-medicating with alcohol.
Richard is truly a Renaissance man. His knowledge of art, literature, history, and fly-fishing are without a parallel in my life. I’ve heard Richard say on more than one occasion that there are really only two things that matter in Alcoholics Anonymous– Truth, and Grace. Well, I heard about 37 years ago, “You will become as healthy spiritually and emotionally as you are willing to tell yourself the truth, no matter what the cost”. I decided I wanted that kind of freedom and, slowly but surely, I have committed myself to trying to live out a life where the truth matters. I certainly have blind spots, and my friend Richard B has helped me to both identify them and try to live past them. The Grace piece is where mystery lives, love forgives, and gratitude becomes a way of life.
As Richard and I were listening to the Mozart Requiem there was a connection beyond words. He took my hand and looked me in the eye and said “Thank you”. I asked him if he minded if I shared a bit about our time together. He said, “Please do and whatever you do, make sure you tell them about the time that we were fly fishing in the Flaming Gorge Canyon and you had that beautiful brown trout on your line as our guide steered our boat down a quarter of a mile of rapids, while my fish was hanging in the tree. Where I come from, we would call that a Nantucket sleigh ride”. We were privileged to catch and release a lot of beautiful trout on that wonderful day in June 2013.
As I sat there holding Richard‘s hand today in the presence of Mozart, filled with the memories of two recovering drunks, standing up in a fishing boat on the river, I know just how blessed we both are! We reminded ourselves that without recovery we would be long gone… But there we were – Old and Older – and the little boys in us were smiling from ear to ear.
Onward and Upward,