IN DEFENSE OF SARAH’S MOM

TemplepillsLisa Ling

Elizabeth Willis Barrett…………Oct 14, 2014

The other day I watched “This is Life with Lisa Ling: Inside Utah’s Struggle with Drug Abuse.”  She showed that even though Mormons have a strict health guide, they are still falling in high numbers to the addiction of pain pills.  I felt that she was very compassionate in her interviews.  She attended a Mormon Addiction Recovery Program meeting, spoke with a Mormon Bishop and in addition to others, met with a very candid girl named Sarah.

I didn’t learn about the danger of prescription pills until my son was in high school.  He went to a friend of mine who worked in the school’s bookstore and asked her for one of her pain pills.   Very responsibly, this friend called me before giving him one.  She told me that Jeffrey had come to her saying that his back really hurt.  As a football player, Jeffrey had many reasons to have a hurting back.  I told her it was OK to give him one of her pills.  Unbelievable, I know.  Looking back, I am astounded at my naiveté.  I had no idea that I had just given my consent to an addiction that would become so full blown that we wouldn’t see the end of it for fifteen years.  I knew nothing about addictions and, of course, nothing about the role pills play in dependency.

Drugs were so out of my realm of consciousness.  I had five nearly perfect children.  It was very interesting to watch the Ling program because it stressed the obsession we as Mormons tend to have with perfection.  We don’t want anyone to know that our family might be having problems, so disasters like drug addiction can be swept under the rug of denial for years.  Although that’s probably not solely a Mormon dilemma.

Lisa showed how easy it is to get addicted.  Many start innocently with prescription pills given by a well-meaning doctor.  When pills get too scarce or expensive many turn to heroin and other illegal drugs.  Addicts need their next hit just like everyone needs their next breath of oxygen and they’ll do about anything to get it.

When Lisa Ling was interviewing Sarah—a full blown heroin addict—she asked her if she wanted to quit.  “More than you’ll know,” said Sarah.  Lisa also asked Sarah what she wanted.  Sarah’s answer was that she just wanted a hug from her Mom.

Sarah’s Mom, who was never named, might have sounded like an unfeeling woman, one who wouldn’t even hug her daughter.  But not to me.  I have been that mom to some degree and I praise her for her courage.  It takes a lot of courage to divorce your addicted child and let her determine on her own that she is ready to pay the price for sobriety.  I would guess that Sarah’s Mom has already spent years hugging and encouraging and saving Sarah from the consequences of her disastrous choices.  After all, she is raising Sarah’s child which is a difficult thing to do after raising your own children.  I would also assume that Sarah’s Mom has been lied to and stolen from because that is what addicts do—they lie and they steal.  Enough is enough.

Brad and I have had many couples sitting in our living room trying to absorb any advice we can give them about dealing with their own addicted children.  We tell them all the same thing that a recovered addict told us:  “There is nothing you as a parent can do or say that will change your child.  They are the ones who have to decide when they are really ready to walk the difficult path of recovery.”  We also tell them of helps that are available to parents and meetings that would strengthen their resolve.  Most parents don’t like our advice.

I am assuming that Sarah’s Mom finally arrived at the point we all must come to: we are not helping our children by enabling them.  We are not helping our children by giving them a nice place to live and driving them places and paying for their needs.  They will never recover until it is harder to be an addict than it is to be sober.  When we make life easy for them,  addicted children continue farther down that destructive path and there is no retrieving them.  Our son wasn’t willing to get ultimate help until he had been homeless for about a year—living behind dumpsters and on the canal bank in a bush, panhandling for money to get more drugs.  We couldn’t coddle him anymore.  We couldn’t bring him home.  We had to go on with our lives and let him go on with his even though his path might lead to death.

So to Sarah’s Mom I would say that there are many imperfect Mormon Moms who are behind you right now, wishing you the best and saying, “Hang in there, Sarah’s Mom.  You are doing the right thing.  The only right thing!”

I wish I could tell Sarah that although she wants to be clean she didn’t sound like she was quite ready to throw herself into a program where she’d have to give her all into getting well.  With the nation watching, I imagine that many would step up to help her into a rehab if she had said that she was ready and willing to go right now.  But when she is done, truly done with her addiction, there is help for her.

Our son finally got the help he needed in a 24 month program that changed his thinking and his life.  It is called the John Volken Academy . It was started by a wonderful philanthropist and costs next to nothing. Two years seems like a very long time to be in a program, but the many expensive thirty day and three month programs worked only for a little while and then the addiction returned.  When you are deep into addiction, a few months isn’t going to pull you out. Thanks to John Volken we have our son back—our wonderful son.

And one day, Sarah, if you are willing to make recovery your first and only priority, your Mom will get you back .  And, I promise, the hugs won’t stop.

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LIZ’S LAWS

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Elizabeth Willis Barrett

The other day I gave a suggestion to one of my sons-in-law as he was wiping up a kid’s spill.  I wasn’t trying to be bossy, but maybe it came out that way.  We don’t always see our own faults as well as we see the faults of others.  You know, the “mote and the beam.” (Luke 6:42)

His exasperated response was, “Liz, why don’t you just write up a list of Liz’s Laws, so we’ll know what you want.

Whoa!  What a proposal! What an opportunity!  Why hadn’t I thought of it myself and a long time ago?

So here it is——-Liz’s Laws.  The listings are in random order and not prioritized.  They are not meant to be pointed at anyone in particular.  They apply to everyone generally.  This list is not intended to be all inclusive because I’m sure I’ve forgotten some very major points and I leave myself room to add an addendum at any time.

1.  If you are going to change a diaper, especially on the new carpet in the family room, please put a towel under the baby.

2.  If the diaper is a very smelly one as many are, please change him on a towel on the washer in the laundry room.  That way the smell doesn’t have to linger forever where everyone’s noses are.  But to be truthful, I am so impressed with the men in our family who are willing to be real fathers and change their delightful children, that if this law is overlooked once in a while, I will avert my eyes and nose.

3.  Please do not put cups or glasses or anything containing liquid on a wood surface.  The container will often sweat and leave an unredeemable ring on the wood.  That is what coasters are for–to place those cups on.   Unfortunately, I don’t have any coasters, but you can make do with a magazine or a piece of mail that is sitting around or……….  Never mind–I’ll buy some coasters, if you’ll promise to use them.

4.  Don’t wipe up the floor with a dishtowel.  I know it’s hard to tell the dishtowels from the rags, sometimes, since I use old dishtowels as rags.  But if a cloth is just sitting on the counter it most likely is a dishtowel.  The rags are above the dryer in the laundry room which is in proximity to the kitchen.  And I would rather you use those rags instead of paper towels, too, since they are washable and I don’t have to go out and replace them.

5.  Please don’t scrunch up the couch show pillows and put your head–however clean–on them.  All heads are oily and the scrunch won’t recover if the pillows are used in this manner too often.  These pillows are not replaceable until I buy new couches that come with new pillows.  That will not happen for years.  There are many old pillows in the cupboards in my bathroom and I will be happy to get you one or two upon request.

6.  Please put down the toilet seats–both lids.  This is good Feng Shui.  Also, probably next to impossible.

7.  Don’t put wet towels on beds or hang them over furniture.  They will get everything they touch wet.

8.  If you’re going to wipe off the wood table, which is very much appreciated, by the way, please then wipe it down with a dry cloth.

9.  Do not eat straight out of a pan or bowl that others will be serving themselves from.  I haven’t seen this happen in our family, but it doesn’t hurt to list it just in case someone is tempted to do so.

10.  I know we all wipe our hands on the hanging around dishtowel.  It would be better to use paper towels for that purpose but sometimes the dishtowel is more convenient although much less sanitary. But do you have to wipe your face with it?  Come on!  (And if you are being very good and using paper towels to dry your hands, it only takes one, not five!)

(Oh, oh, I’m feeling myself get a little too paranoid and anxious about these laws.  Maybe I shouldn’t have started.  But there’s more!)

11.  Do not let the kids eat on the carpet or couches.

12.  Do not let the kids touch the pianos, computers, Ipads, or phones.

13.  When wiping off a counter, don’t let the dishcloth drip across the floor.

14.  If kids are going to drink pop, don’t leave 1/2 drunk cans all over.

15.  If you know that your child just might wet the bed, please protect the beds.  I didn’t obey this rule when I was in your position, so I probably don’t have the right to impose this law, but it would save a lot of grief.

16.  When dishing up your kids food, don’t give them more than you know they can eat.  My rule is eat a little, then eat a little, then eat a little.  Wasting food doesn’t go over very well at my house.  See my essay Waste Not Want Not.

17.  Don’t wash kids off with a dishcloth.  Yuck.  Poor kid!  I have lots of clean cloths that would be more appropriate to use.  See #4.

18.  Before laying a sleeping child on the couch, put down a quilt first.  Who doesn’t slobber when they sleep?

So there you have it–Liz’s Laws.  In reading back over them, I see that many have something to do with moisture.  Interesting.

Mostly, however, I realize that they sound very petty and unimportant when what really matters is that you come.  My family is everything to me–all 28 members.  My joy is full when my home is full of you!

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No, No, Not a Squatty Potty!

chinesetoilet

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

“No, No,” Claire almost shouted.  “I hate squatty potties.  No.  I just won’t go.”  And she sat with defiance in the airport as we waited for our flight from Xian to Beijing.  My sentiments were most assuredly with Claire’s.  No squatty potties for me either, but I couldn’t yell my disapprobation as appropriately as seven year old Claire could.

China has the greatest of walls, the most forbidden of cities, and their terra cotta warriors are incredible, but China does not know how to do bathrooms.   The Chinese have an aversion to sit down toilets which they think are very unsanitary.  Well, when you use the squat method with a sit down toilet, they are very unsanitary and you never want to be the one to have to follow a squatter.   But when one is considerate and careful and uses the provided butt gaskets (as Brad calls them), a sit down toilet beats a squatty potty all to porcelain smithereens.

Both Claire and I were in crisis as we sat waiting to board with her family and my beloved Brad because we each were in positive need of a bathroom.  The airplane bathroom was an option but it didn’t sound much better than a squatty potty since most of the people around us were definitely squatters and I’ve had to wipe down an airplane bathroom or two before I’ve been willing to use them.  Besides, it would take too long to board and get situated.

“Come on, Claire,” I cajoled.  “Let’s just see what the bathrooms are like here.  Maybe they aren’t all squatty ones.”

So Claire and I went on a quest which seemed a little fruitless.  Yep, every closed door was hiding a porcelain hole in the ground that one was supposed to squat over. I don’t know how anyone does it gracefully without splashing all over feet, walls and clothes.  Actually, I don’t think it can be done.  The Chinese have much stronger squatting muscles, I know, since they have been squatting for a very long time.

After we passed door after door of the squatters, we came to the end–and there in all its relieving glory was a sit down toilet!  They called it a handicapped toilet and it was set in the far corner of the very long bathroom.  It didn’t even have a privacy door.  I think the handicapped should have something to say about that.  At this point, neither Claire nor I was as finicky about privacy as we would have been with empty bladders.

“OK, Claire, you go first.  I’ll guard the way so no one will see, then you can do the same for me.”

We first had to run to the front of the bathroom to grab toilet paper from a general dispenser.  Thank goodness, it wasn’t empty since it was the only source for the precious commodity.  Claire took care of her business and then just as I was going to run for more toilet paper, two little girls came up.  They, too, were looking for anything but a squatty potty.  I had to beg for their patience.

“Our plane is going to leave in just a minute,” I explained with a whine.  The girls were very kind and waited till I could replenish my toilet paper supply as they charitably kept their eyes averted.  Claire wasn’t nearly as faithful a guard as I had been for her.  She was going to leave me there in the open till I shamed her into turning her back and standing as a sentinel.  I should have asked her to be a Terra Cotta Warrior for me since we had just “oohed” and “awed” over thousands of them.

Modesty had to be flushed, so to speak, for a few moments, but I was speedy.

Enormously relieved, Claire and I washed our hands and shook them dry as we ran to the line that was beginning to board.

 

Mother, Daughter as in “grand”

Share many moments hand in hand

But none shines more on memory’s stone

Than when we paid homage to the throne!

 

 

 

 

 

My Aunt Mona

Aunt Mona with her friend

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

I saw a basket the other day–rustic, grayish, large with a small handle on each end.  It reminded me of my Aunt Mona Campbell–Dad’s oldest sister.  Aunt Mona lived behind us in Mesa, Arizona, on a large piece of land in a rambling two-story that was as interesting as she was.  She would walk across the little bridge over the very narrow and shallow irrigation ditch, come to our back door and call out “Yoo Hoo!” as she opened it.

I don’t think I was very aware then of how much I admired her, but looking back I can see that she made an impression.  She had deep red hair that was caught into a low bun and she was always dressed up to go somewhere with her Country Club group, gloves in hand.  When I was still in possession of childlike believing, she would take me to the Country Club to meet Santa.  I think he always came there first.  I should have kept my belief at least as a cover so I could continue this exciting tradition.  But as soon as Aunt Mona knew that I was privy to the Santa myth, I was no longer invited.

When I was in grade school we had a glorious day of playing with clay. Sadly, I think it only happened once.  It was a salt clay that would harden and we could make anything we wanted.  I was ecstatic.  I chose to make a little bowl with a chicken for a lid.  Very enterprising for a Third Grader who had all the desire for art but not much inner skill.  Aunt Mona had a bowl like that and I wanted one too.

Aunt Mona grew nasturtiums around her house and her house had a musty smell that, if I concentrate, I can smell now.  She was an antique and garage sale shopper and her house was filled with old things.  I’ve never been into decorating styles much but I wish I could go back to that house and look around again to get a sense of her style.  I would like to copy pieces of it.  She had an extremely old piano that filled one complete side of the living room.  It looked like Mozart might have played on it.  I could never play it, though, even when I started taking lessons from Sister Alta Standage.  It was never tuned, was just for show and was definitely not put there for children.

Coming from a very old Mormon Pioneer family that settled Snowflake Arizona, you’d think her faith would run deep.  But Aunt Mona was the only one of twelve children that didn’t cling to the Church, not counting two siblings who died in childhood and another sister who didn’t attend Church very often. Her other siblings served well in various Church callings as teachers and Bishops and Presidents of this and that, but Aunt Mona had her own set of friends and priorities.

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Her lack of faith isn’t what I admired in her because I am a devout Latter-day Saint and feel that the Church could have used Aunt Mona’s special gifts.  But I applauded her for her ambition and her get-it-done abilities and the way she made things happen in her life.  She went to college in her forties, receiving her Bachelors and Masters.  Then at fifty-seven she received a doctorate from ASU and became a professor.

She built her own cabin near a lake in Arizona’s beautiful White Mountains with some help from Grandpa Willis.  When something went awry, she’d fix it herself whether it be the roof or the plumbing.  And she thought nothing of cutting off the legs of frogs for a tasty morsel which makes me shiver even now.  Her son, Gordon, caught the frogs and she did the rest.  Gordon, by the way, became a very successful lawyer and wrote a book that made it to the New York’s bestsellers list.  It’s called Missing Witness.  Check it out.

When her husband, Uncle Bill, died, she didn’t fall apart.  She took charge as she always had and bought a place on Coronado Island and made a new life for herself.

Then, in her 90‘s–not allowing age to get the better of her–she followed her son’s example and wrote a great book called Up From Backstreet.  It never made it to a bestsellers’ list but it was the crowning glory of a full life, describing Snowflake and her time there.

I don’t have a need to be like Aunt Mona in every respect, but I hope to have her drive and her desire for accomplishment and her clear thinking mind well into my nineties.

Curses, Spoiled Again!

Marmie Betts w-kids 045

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

One of my daughters and her husband had a chance to go on a great vacation if I could come up to their home in Utah to watch their five boys and one baby girl.  How could I ever say no to that?  So I went and for the most part things went really well.  I got a little frustrated when I couldn’t figure out how to get to the Hogle Zoo, but we found the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point and that was a good enough substitute.

On our ride home, I noticed a store I wanted to peruse quickly, so I left the kids on the  store’s large front lawn and ran in and out of the establishment in about a minute.  As I was leaving and the clerk saw my absolutely beautiful children on the lawn, she made a comment that I’ve had to think about deeply ever since.  “What cute kids,” she said.  “I bet you spoil them rotten, don’t you?”

I looked at her quizzically, like I didn’t understand what she was talking about.  Spoil them rotten?  “No,” I said.  And that ended that pleasant conversation.

Why would anyone want to spoil their grand kids rotten?  I know it is just a saying and the clerk was only looking for something to chat about, but in reality I have no desire to spoil them.  I don’t have the energy, the money, or the inclination to do it.

Maybe it’s because I have 17 of the little darlings and if I spoil one I’d have to spoil them all.  Also, kids already have so much.  I’d add the word “today,” but that would make me sound like one of those people who always refers to the past as the good old days, and I don’t think they were.  But wouldn’t you say that most kids seem to have an overabundance of things?  You can give them a birthday present and by the evening they don’t even know where the pieces are and don’t really care because they have so many other presents to play with.   You could load them up with new clothes, which they’d welcome if they were the right brand, but mothers already have baskets full of dirty laundry and rooms strewn with pants and shirts and socks and shoes.

I love my grand kids.  They are precious to me.  I don’t want anyone spoiling them.  I have a grandmother friend who boasts of her spoiling.  “I let little Missy and Sonny have whatever they want when they’re with me–even candy for breakfast,” she says.  Not me.  I love teaching them and guiding them and helping them make right choices.   I think parents need all the help they can get to raise happy, moral kids.  And who is in a better position to help than grandparents?

As these little ones are getting older, my favorite thing to do is talk to them and find out how they think and what is going on at school and how they feel about things.  When I get to be with one of my fourteen year old grandsons and he’ll talk to me like a friend, I am ecstatic!

I love teaching these exceptional children–games, music, reading, math, and about our Heavenly Father who loves them.  I don’t do it as often as I’d like–teach them, I mean.  Sometimes when the teacher is ready, the student isn’t and vice versa.  But I’m working on it.  I want to give them loving memories that they can hold on to when life gets a little tough.

I am still learning to be a grandmother–the kind I’d like to be.  It takes time and planning.  Maybe by the time I’m a great grandmother I will finally be great at it.  But in the meantime, I don’t see any need for spoiling.

 

 

Pride Goeth Before a Rise

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Elizabeth Willis Barrett

When my kids were little, I would often trade days with a friend.  I would leave my kids with her so I could go somewhere childless and on another day I would take her kids so she could have some freedom.  Since my two and her two were in the same preschool, our responsibilities included letting them play, then getting them fed and ready and taken to preschool.

Any mother knows that when children and deadlines coincide, there is a potential for volatility.  Since most days did bring these two in proximity, I allowed tension to get the better of me.  “Hurry!” was my mantra.  “Get in the car, NOW!” was my war cry.  On my “on days” with two extra children, my edginess sharpened and those words were raised an octave.  Preschool waited and dawdling children meant we would be late and the teacher would be upset and her upset-ness would affect her classroom and that would make me feel guilty and my guilt basket was already filled to capacity.  (On second thought, guilt is much like Jello–there’s always room for more.)

One day, one of the girls, Carly, came to my house with a helium balloon that she wanted to take to school.  That was fine.  However, in my impatience to get the kids in the car for school after many flustering minutes of un-cooperation, the balloon came off her wrist and floated into the great beyond.  It’s graceful beauty was lost on Carly and she howled all the way to school.  A kind benevolent caregiver would have taken her straight to Walmart to get her another balloon so she wouldn’t be disappointed.  But not this one.  I wanted to get those kids to school quickly.  I was done.

About thirty years later, that particular lack of compassion came back to teach me a lesson in empathy.  Several of us were giving a gift card to a friend and I was put in charge of its presentation.  I thought it would be nice to give the card with a helium balloon that said, “Thank You.”  Sadly, helium balloons that say, “Thank You” are very difficult to find.  But I was earnest in my quest and after four non-compliant stores, I finally found the perfect balloon.  It was blown up for me and I made the somewhat pricey purchase.

Transporting helium balloons can be tricky since they tend to bounce around and ruin one’s driving view, but the balloon and I made it home and I tied the card to it.  I was feeling quite pleased with myself for going the extra mile to make our gift distinctive.  That is not my usual M. O.

I drove to the recipient’s home where the other “givers” were meeting.  They would be glad they had given the gift-giving responsibility to me because I had prepared so well.

However, as soon as I got out of my car, the quote, “Pride goeth before a fall” quickly ran through my mind with a variation: “Pride goeth before a rise.”  As I opened my car door, the balloon that should have been very stable, came off its ribbon and rose, rose, rose into the same great beyond that Carly’s had risen to so long ago.  I felt the same way she must have felt when she lost her balloon.  I was sad and I wanted to howl. No one even got to see its beauty or my hard work before it disappeared. I wanted a kind benevolent caregiver to go get me another balloon before I walked into our friend’s home.  But there wasn’t one available.

I gave our friend the card and told her about the balloon which, of course, didn’t do it justice.

It’s been a while, but I still feel the disappointment in losing my balloon.  I wonder if Carley remembers and still feels the disappointment in losing hers.

 

First Oleander on the Right

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

(I am reposting this from my old blog so that tomorrow’s post will have more meaning!)

I drive up Bunker and just past Lionel make a left turn onto the canal bank where I shouldn’t turn at all.  I don’t think cars are very welcomed on the canal roads.  But this is where he lives and I have come for another visit.   I pull up to the first oleander and get out with my feet feeling like they are trudging through deep, dark mud and with my heart slogging along above them.

“Jeffrey?” I call.

“Hey, Mom,” comes his voice from the middle of the bush.

At least he’s alive–a good sign, I think.  I walk up to the large overhanging oleander, and part the branches.  There he is like he was the night before, wrapped in his sleeping bag and several blankets and looking very comfortable.  I almost want to join him.  Almost.

“How are you?”  I ask.

“Good.  Except for my hip.  I think it’s broken.”

The first story is that he had jumped over a wall and landed on his hip.  The next story is that he had hitchhiked and as he was getting out of the Good Samaritan’s truck, he caught the heel of his boot and fell hard on his backside.  Truth has lost its way in his muddled head and doesn’t know how to get to his mouth anymore.  Honesty used to be a valiant companion of this beautiful son.  But she was so neglected that she left long ago.  We have missed her.

Jeffrey is already dealing with a broken elbow that he acquired when his scooter failed to turn a corner.  Scooters don’t miss garbage cans on their own.  They need a sober driver and this one didn’t have one.  Lack of sobriety was most likely the cause of Jeffrey’s hurt hip as well.

I never planned on any of my children becoming homeless.  Homelessness is for people with no families, no opportunities and no one left to care about them.  We have lots of room in a very nice home and plenty of food and love to share.  We could easily keep Jeffrey for another 27 years.  But the fact is, our keeping him was doing him harm, not good. We had enabled him too long or rather dis-abled him.

His father and I finally reached a decisive intersection where we stood together as adoring yet formidable parents. Although we had been at this juncture a hundred times before, this time we irrevocably meant it when we took a turn to the right and declared, “YOU CAN NOT LIVE WITH US ANYMORE!”

I used to wonder how people ended up being homeless.  When I’ve encountered panhandlers on the edge of the freeway, I’ve questioned why they didn’t go get a job and pay for shelter.  I’ve seen many “help wanted” signs.  Surely those on the street have seen them, too, and could “inquire within.”  But I understand now.  They have “inquired within”–within themselves– and the answer was, “Drugs. I need drugs.”  Jobs cannot be sustained by those who need drugs.  And standing on a corner with an outstretched hand can bring in as much as $25 an hour.  That beats the wages for dunking French fries into oil at McDonalds.  Since they don’t have any ambitions nipping at their heels, why not stand on a corner and beg?

On one occasion, a very kind and well-meaning gentleman gave Jeffrey $100 when he heard that he was homeless.  That $100 nearly bought Jeffrey a permanent shelter measuring eighty-four inches long, twenty-eight inches wide, twenty-three inches tall and six feet under, since the entire amount was used to buy drugs.

When I had to take Jeffrey to TASC one day to get a court ordered pee test–more formally called a UA for Urine Analysis–to check for drugs in his system, we joined some rather questionable characters congregating for the same purpose.

“Do you want to be like these people?” I nearly shouted at him.  I mean, who would?  They all looked frightening and frightened, aimless and aimed at.

“No, Mom,” he said.  “I wouldn’t be like these people.  When I do drugs, I always know I have a home and a bed to come back to.”

I have to remember these words when I falter and want to gather him up and bring him home.  In his case, home has kept him from growth and made using drugs way too easy.

So, I have allowed him to be a homeless beggar, choking back my motherly compulsions and desire to keep his natural consequences at bay.   I don’t want him to be cold.  I don’t want him to be hungry.  I don’t want him to be alone.

As I leave him in his makeshift camp in the bush, I have become a beggar myself.  I am begging that a change of heart will come, that truth will conquer, that the need for drugs will diminish.  I am begging that another of the many people who love him will be able to influence him in a positive direction since his family no longer can.    And I am begging that Jeffrey will finally be able to sustain a home much stronger and more stable than the first oleander on the right.

Audio-First Oleander on the Right: Read by the Author