Friday, March 19, 2010


As I am doing all my business on the computer early this morning, I noticed the date today. March 19. I am reminded that it is the birthday of a man who passed away several years ago.
This piece today is going to be a little different. It is not going to be about drugs. And it is not going to be a commentary on life, or a poem, or a scene from my eyes. This is going to be a piece in memorandum. A tribute to a man I once knew. A tribute to a man who always touches my heart now, when I look back. When this man died, I was caught up in my web of addiction. I did not say my proper good-byes. And I did not pay my proper respects.
March 19 was the birthday of Liam's father. Or was it his mother? His father and mother were born on March 19th and 20th. I am pretty sure his father's birthday was first, but then I cannot be sure. We celebrated them both together, and I am not sure which was actually on which day...but I think Bill was born on March 19.
The first time I met Liam's father, Bill, he did not make a good impression on me. At the time he came to visit, I was dancing to support Liam. He had just lost his job, and I was taking care of everything that I could. It was my car that Liam took to the train station to pick him up, and it was my money that was keeping Liam's pocket full.
Liam and I were both into drugs when we first met. Now that I look back on it, I am sure Liam's father could tell something was not right with his son. And like any father in denial, or maybe just plain ignorance, Bill laid all the blame on me. He stayed up late one night, yelling at Liam and bashing me. I overheard the whole thing from Liam's bed at that little apartment off Farm Pond. My feelings were really hurt. I was so sure that Bill was not seeing anything clearly.
Liam always told me that his father has always felt bad about that first meeting. Since we were together for ten years, I was able to make a better impression on Liam's father later. Bill had told his son that he felt bad about all the things he thought about me at first. Years later, he told his son how much he really did like his new wife. Bill never brought it up to me, and he never apologized to me. But, now I know...that was just Bill's way.
Liam and his dad did not always get along. In fact, they often butted heads on many things. But, I never once doubted that Bill loved his son. He may not have been happy with decisions Liam had made. And he may not have agreed with his son's financial instability at the age of 27. He may have wanted his son to turn out very different that he was at the time. But, Bill's love of his son never wavered.
Liam's father would often repeat himself. Liam and I used to laugh about the way he would harp on both of us, reminding us of something over and over. Bill would bring up the same issues over and over, knowing Liam would not have a better answer later. We thought that it was just the way that Bill knew how to connect with his son.
On a family vacation on summer in Charleston, Bill would faithfully ask us about the green pass every time we left. The family had rented a house in a gated community, and that green pass was necessary to get back. Bill was always overly concerned that his son had forgotten something. And in Bill's defense, Liam was very forgetful. I think now, that was just Bill's way of trying to be nurturing and guiding his wayward son.
At the time, my perspective on life was very different. I was not a parent then. And Liam and I liked to get high. We liked to drink, and we enjoyed hanging out in bars. We often did not understand Bill and his vast concern for us. We felt that it was unwarranted and counterproductive for Liam's self esteem. Looking back, I think that even then Bill had a sense of danger where Liam and I were fearless.
In Bill's defense, he had known Liam much longer than I had. I know now, that when you nurture a child from infancy, you just have a sense when something is not quite right with them. And I believe that Bill's fears and concerns came from that place deep inside a parent; that gut feeling that just puts us on alert. Time has proven that Liam's father had a right to be concerned.
Liam and I both made a royal mess of everything. I am glad that when Bill passed, Liam was there. And he was in a sober frame of mind, even if only temporarily. I am glad that Bill was not around to witness the bitter end of that lifestyle for his son. It got ugly at times. But, I do wish that Bill could see his son today, sober. I have not talked to Liam in quite sometime, but I like to think he is sober and happy. Bill would be proud at the things his son has accomplished.
Liam's father was so generous. He was always there to bail his son out of any jam. Liam sometimes took advantage of this trait, and his parents often supported our habits unknowingly. I am sure Liam has regrets about taking advantage of his father's endless generosity.
Bill used to take us to Walmart and get all kinds of things for our house when he visited. He would always get you the best Christmas presents. Bill always put thought into gifts, so the recipient was sure to like it. Bill loved giving gifts, and I think it made him truly happy. He was a man who always took care of his family. Sacrificing himself so that his children could have what they wanted.
Bill was in the Navy, and he drove trucks for years afterwords. He had a tattoo of his wife's name on his forearm. It was just plain black ink with his wife's name in plain handwriting. He did hate all his son's tattoos, though. Bill was a tough guy from New Jersey, and he always maintained the accent and attitude...even after he had lived in the South for years.
Liam's father was a Civil War buff. And he loved to surf the Internet. Bill shared his family's passion for good food. Whenever Liam's dad visited New Orleans, we were sure to eat a few great meals. Bill was so proud to see his son cooking behind the line at the prestigious job at the Redfish Grille. Liam's father was the cook in the household, and that was a passion shared by father and son. Those men loved to eat good food!
Liam's parents always remained an active part of his life. I hope to be the same way with my son. In the height of our addiction, my parents had pretty much written me off. Liam's parents, on the other hand, refused to give up. As much as their son tried to push them away, they kept a strong hold. Liam's father was not the type of man to give up a fight...especially when his son's life was at stake.
I know I did not make things any easier for Liam's family at times. I wish I had been able to apologize to his father for all the mistakes I made. I wish I had been able to see those mistakes before it was too late. Unfortunately, that was not the case and my apologies must be made here. I was caught up in that web of addiction, and I could not see the hand in front of my face clearly. I am truly sorry about the pain I know Liam's family suffered because of my recklessness. I only wish I had been able to pull my life together sooner than I did.
But, we cannot go back and change the past. We can only live with it, and if we are lucky...we learn from it. I gave up a great family with my in-laws. I gave up a lot in those days, trading it for another bag of dope. I know I can never go back, and I know there are certain things that I can never make right. I know that all I can do is move forward, and make the best of a bad situation.
So, today...I pay tribute to a man who deserved to be sung praises by me. I pay tribute to a father, who had such an unselfish love for his children. Bill was a great father, wonderful husband, and a righteous man. He raised two beautiful children with the best of his life. I know there is not a day that passes that those two children do not think of him. Happy Birthday, Bill. You are missed very much.

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