Read the previous two parts of Ricks story here
My sons moved to Portland, Oregon and wanted to come and visit me up in Olympia. After getting over the tidal wave of emotions, I said sure. They arrived a week later in an over loaded Hyundai, with two of their friends.
Through the process of elimination, I was able to pick out my sons, but I didn’t put the names with the right one. During the next two years, we managed to see each other maybe four times and only for a few hours each time. We lived only 125 miles apart, but it may as well have been 3000 miles.
After the third divorce was final, I moved to California in hopes of obtaining employment and regaining some sanity. My third ex wife was very high maintenance and had us so far in debt that I had no choice but to file bankruptcy. In Washington State, employers run credit checks and if you have bad credit, they tend not to hire you, so I went to California looking for work.
Soon after relocating, I was hired as a “Landscape Consultant” at a major hardware store. Actually, I stocked and watered plants. I worked in the outdoor garden department. This was only a temporary job for me though, because I had also submitted applications to work at the county juvenile boot camp.
That application process was in three stages and took five months to complete. While working at the hardware store, my employment was only part time, so I figured I could play golf and drink full time and work part time. At first this worked out fine because I’d work four hours, four days a week and played the rest of the time.
I did this without any problems until I started forgetting to check the work schedules each week. In a five month period, I was counseled by my supervisor twice about my not showing up or showing up late and having alcohol on my breath. The third strike never materialized because I got hired by the county probation department. This job was great but only lasted eight months due to a career ending injury.
In that eight months, I was again counseled twice about my coming to work either hung over or with alcohol on my breath. My wife Karol and I met in June of 1998, shortly after I moved to California, and we married September 2000. We enjoyed some really good times and some extremely trying times and my drinking did not help one iota! March 14th , 2000, is a date that will be with me for the rest of my life.
My youngest son always got my birthday confused with my mother’s. Hers was March 14th and mine the 16th. So, on March 14th, my youngest son, Joseph, called to wish me Happy Birthday. I thanked him and told him again, that mine wasn’t until the 16th . “Today is your grandma’s birthday”…I said. He had that covered because he’d already called her. What I heard next tore me apart, both inside and out.
Laughing and joking with me, Joseph said, “Hey Dad, guess what I have?” I didn’t have a clue and coming from him, what little I knew about him, it was going to be something totally out of this world. It was indeed! I stood at our dining room table with the phone to my ear, stunned and paralyzed by his continuing words, “Dad, I have an inoperable brain tumor. It’s rare and , only 1 in 750,000 people get this. But don’t worry Dad, I’m going to be okay. There’s a doctor here in Portland who has pioneered an 80% successful treatment for it.”
I don’t remember much after that. From May 2000 until February 2001, we said our final goodbyes to Joseph four times. During this time, my drinking more than doubled. Instead of drinking less than a half case of beer on a regular basis, I was drinking between 18 and 24 everyday, usually starting around 10:00 each morning. Each time I went to Portland to be with my sons, I drank and stayed drunk…….
Read the final part of Ricks story next Thursday