Thursday, February 10, 2011
A Story of Twelve-Step Recovery
Ruth's Story - Part Two
It was the druggist’s suggestion that Ruth go immediately to the police station and “Tell them you have no place to live.” Ruth arrived there only to find that the lieutenant on duty was someone she knew, a neighbor of her parents. The lieutenant immediately telephoned a rooming house across the street, asking the person at the other end of the line, “Can you put up Ruth Miller tonight?”
Fortunately for Ruth and her babies, the answer was yes. And even more fortunately, it turned out that the person at the other end of the telephone line also knew Ruth. She ran the rooming house, but had also been the custodian at the school Ruth had attended. “The woman was a God-send,” Ruth says. “We cut up towels and sheets for diapers to get us through the night.”
Ruth’s parents took the tiny family into their home the very next day. Still, it was shocking for Ruth to find herself so suddenly abandoned in the terrible economy of 1939. For the next seven years, she was a single mother and living with her parents. Then came the end of World War II, and with peace at last, soldiers and sailors began returning stateside.
One of the returning men was Eddie, who had been Ruth’s original childhood sweetheart. He wanted very much to marry Ruth and to adopt her two children as his own. Eddie and Ruth were married in 1946, and the family moved to Chappaqua, New York, where Eddie owned a gas station and ran a good business. They had a very good marriage, but after ten years, Eddie was drinking to excess. But Ruth didn’t leave Eddie. She said to herself, “If he is, he is, but I’m not going to be a single parent again.”
Ten years later, the two kids had flown the nest, and Ruth was 40. It was at this point that Eddie announced something Ruth had not even remotely considered. He said, one day out of the blue, ”Ruthie, I’d like to have child of my own.” Ruth agreed to seek her doctor’s advice about having a baby at her late age. His response: “If God gives you one, you’ll have one.” Ruth says, “Wayne was given me.”
Wayne was born in 1958, but as he was sleeping soundly in his baby crib, Ruth was honing a new habit: reading to her alcoholic husband when they went to bed. Somehow or another, she had obtained a copy of The Big Book from Alcoholics Anonymous, which she hoped would cure Eddie of his problem drinking. “I would read out loud as Eddie dozed off,” Ruth recalls. “I did have a big mouth.”
It must have been, because a neighbor in the quiet hills of Chappaqua could hear her reading the book at Eddie. She says, “That neighbor could hear me fling the book at Eddie when he’d fall asleep on me, and I’d call him an SOB and a crazy bastard.” The neighbor was Bob, a member of a Twelve-Step program. One day in 1960, Bob came over at 7 a.m. to tell Ruth he’d been overhearing her nightly procedure. By that time, there were four Big Books in the attic wall, where Eddie had hidden them from the big mouth. Bob had been listening to the nightly diatribes for two solid years.
“I came to hear the rest of the story,” the neighbor said.” “What story?” Ruth asked in dismay. “The story you read Eddie every night of your life.” And to Eddie he said, “Eddie, you’ve got a problem -- and it’s her.”
(Final installment next post)