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Happy 7th Birthday, Henry. (The Most Important Thing I’ve Ever Written)

 

You is kind.
You is smart.
You is important.
– The Help

Oct 1, 2006

I remember two things about the day you were born, son. The first is that it was a Sunday and the St Louis Rams were playing on TV. When your mother and I arrived at the hospital the evening before, I realized that our in-room TV had only 3 channels. Wondering if this was 1986 or 2006, I was happy to pass the time that Sunday afternoon watching football. I had one eye on the game and one eye on you as you made your much-anticipated entrance. The second thing I remember is that after you were born, I went out to get your mom some dinner. It was late, and on my way back to the hospital, I stopped at a local gas station and bought a 6 pack of beer. I wish I could say this was a spur-of-the-moment act by an over-joyed new father, looking to make a celebration. The truth is, it was pre-meditated. So much so, in fact, that as your mother prepared for your arrival by filling  her Mother- To-Be suitcase with your first onesie, pacifiers and stuffed animals, I was preparing by being sure I had a cooler in the trunk of the car. I knew, 36 hours before you were born, that I would need a way to sneak booze into your hospital room. As you took your first sips of milk, I was downing Bud Lights.

Oct 1, 2010

I snapped the above video  on October 1st, 2010, your 4th birthday. There is nothing particularly unique about this video, except that I don’t remember taping it. Earlier that day, I participated in a local charity golf tournament. The 11:00am shotgun start was also my signal to crack open the first beer. I drank all day and won that tournament. About the time I should have been celebrating the 4th anniversary of your birth with candles and cake,  I was toasting my victory with a bottle of red wine. The next morning, I awoke to see that I had posted this video on my Facebook page.  As I stared at the screen, watching you and your brother, Charlie, run around the house, I knew something had to change. If I kept this up, I thought, I might not see your 5th, let alone 7th birthday. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that would be the last time I was ever drunk.

The following Monday, I entered a library, found a book titled “The Best Life Diet”, and checked it out. At first, I thought I needed to get in shape, which I did. What the book taught me  was there was a bigger reason why I struggled with my weight.  The diet suggested that I take 30 days off from drinking. I did, and it was the best month of my life. I found energy, time and you. I found your brother and your mother and it  was amazing. Shortly thereafter, I decided I wasn’t going to drink anymore.

Oct 1, 2013

Today marks the 3 year anniversary of that golf tournament, and I’ve been sober ever since. With this confession today, people will treat me differently, they may treat you differently, as well. Unfortunately, we’ll be judged. It would be easy to continue to give half answers to direct questions as to why I no longer drink. After all, why endanger the relationships I’ve worked so hard to build?  Why not keep this our little secret?  A pact between a father and son, never to be told, never to be repeated.

The answer lies in why I’m writing to you today.

Henry, there will come a time when you are asked to stand up for what you believe in, to stand up to a crowd of “nay-sayers” & “cannots”. There will be a time you are made to feel the outcast, like you don’t belong.  The fear will overwhelm you like a boat against the power of the tide, paddling as the waves crash upon you. Exhausted, you will be asked to find the courage to rise above and be yourself. And at that moment, when you feel the urge to turn to me and say, “Dad, I can’t”. I want you to think back to your 7th birthday, when your father sat down in front of a computer and proclaimed to any who would listen, “My name is Greg Younger and I’m an alcoholic.”

On a day we celebrate your birth, I want to thank you for giving me life.

Happy 7th Birthday, Henry. (The most important thing I’ve ever written)

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About gregdyounger

A Father of 3 in search of his DaddyBalance See more at https://gregdyounger.wordpress.com

14 responses »

  1. congratulations Greg!!! Great story and proud of you. I only wish my Dad had figured it out as soon as you did. It took him being in a coma for a week to change his ways. I was in grade school and it changed me forever. Maybe for the best. I have never had a drink of alcohol. I credit my dad’s mistakes for making me a better person. Hopefully your kids will learn from your lesson as well.

    Reply
  2. Greg,
    So proud of you! Happy Birthday to Henry and Happy Birthday to you! I have alcoholics in recovery in my life and I know how challenging it can be at times in a society that finds alcohol a necessity for almost any celebration…or any occasion in fact. Keep it up, as the child of an alcoholic I can tell you that you are saving your children from a lot of heart ache and emotional issues in their future! God Bless!

    Reply
  3. Greg, you are a professional a dedicated father and a business mentor. We each are given challenges in life and can overcome any and all of them with faith. Also know you can lean on your brothers during times that you are challenged.

    Isaiah 41:13 For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

    Reply
  4. I am so proud of you, Greg. You are a hero to those boys and this was the most heroic move you made. May God bless your continued journey.

    Reply
  5. So happy for you and your family! You have done a great thing here!

    Reply
  6. Greg, It brought me to tears to read this post. I didn’t think I could respect or admire you more than I already did because of your dedication to the church and being a person that truly cares about others. Well that changed after reading this. I respect and admire you even more now after reading this. It takes a true man to share this and open his life up for everyone to see. You are an inspiration to us all. God Bless You!!!

    Happy Birthday Henry!!

    Reply
  7. Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope. After seeking a fearless self inventory, your honesty (with yourself) set you free. If someone feels you should join the drinking they have their own issues. As they say in AA, get with folks who want to lift you up, “stick with the winners.” You are on the right path, congratulations.
    Go Henry!

    Reply
  8. heather von merveldt

    I really love what you wrote here and can very much relate because of someone close to me that went through the same things. You are a strong person! Congratulations! Keep making wonderful memories with your family and taking care of yourself.

    Reply

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