Friday, August 18, 2006

Bob comes home -- Part III

In yesterday’s post, Bob had finally agreed to sell the car he couldn’t drive and to which he had no title. He would come to Chicago by bus. The Curmudgeon agreed to meet him and take him in for an alcohol assessment.

Bob wasn’t going to get the celebrity treatment at the Betty Ford Clinic; I knew that. I knew – or thought I knew – that there were a number of substance abuse treatment centers here in Chicago that required large amounts of money in order to secure admission. These were all out of Bob’s price range. He had no money, no home, no job, virtually no possessions. A friend, Steve, suggested the Haymarket Center as a possible destination.

Steve knew about Haymarket for a very good reason: He, too, has a brother like Bob. We’ll call him Sam. Steve and his other brothers had gotten Sam into Haymarket as a resident in a 28 day program. Unfortunately, after a day or two Sam declared himself cured and walked out. Steve thought he knew someone there who might be able to help Bob get in.

That’s the Chicago way. Nobody knows everybody. But everybody knows a guy, or at least a guy who knows a guy, who can help. Steve had a guy.

I called Haymarket one day during the lunch hour. I did not obtain the name of the person with whom I spoke, but I heard his life story. He was himself in recovery. He was in recovery too late to repair his relationship with his mother; she was dead. This was some years ago, it seems, but his emotions were still raw and close to the surface. I could feel his regret, solid and substantial, right through the phone. The person I needed to talk to was out to lunch, this man told me, but it would be alright to bring my brother by anytime. They would ‘assess’ him – and it would be the most searing 2½ hours of my brother’s life. My new friend told me that Bob would find out things about himself that he never knew. And Haymarket would determine the level of care necessary for Bob.

As I reached out for resources to help me figure out how to help Bob I learned something important: A lot of people have brothers like Bob. I knew about Steve’s brother Sam. And I knew a neighbor who has a brother; the brother lurks in the street by our house for hours at a time if our neighbor isn’t home. Or isn’t answering the door. But I didn’t know about the colleague who had to bring his brother home from an island jungle. And there were others.

I was discussing this with Long Suffering Spouse when Younger Daughter chimed in. “Which of my brothers,” she asked, “will turn out like Uncle Bob?”

None of them will, I immediately assured her. It’s a generational thing. Your generation will just have uncles.

I know that’s not true, certainly not for her entire generation. But I so want it to be true. And I hope and pray that “the Curse” will pass all of my children by.

We have such romantic names for alcoholism. The Curse. The Liquid Cross. That was a term I heard used just this year – at the wake and funeral for the son of another colleague. That young man – well, he was around Bob’s age – jumped into Lake Michigan rather than live another day with his alcohol addiction.

I also spoke with one of my ex-landlords. I recently learned that he had been involved in an intervention for a lawyer we both knew; I didn’t know that the intervention had even taken place until after that man had died. Not from drink. Not directly, anyway. My ex-landlord gave me the names and numbers of people at the Lawyers Assistance Program. I had a long chat with a clinician there; Bob’s not a lawyer, but she could talk to me because I am. The clinician recommended that I contact the Way Back Inn in Maywood. She could highly recommend the place because she was on the board there.

(In Chicago terms, that would make her my guy there. Even though she wasn’t a guy. Being a guy isn’t a vital component of being a guy. But don’t ask me who she is because I can’t tell you. If I told you, then she’d be your guy. I don’t know you well enough for that. Is that clear? No? Then you’re one step closer to understanding Chicago. Some day you can explain it to me.)

But, after mulling over the options, I decided to stay with Haymarket. I could walk there from my office. I could walk there from the bus station. There was even a Schaumburg location; I didn’t know at the time that no residential treatment is provided there. I was thinking that the suburban location might be more comfortable for Bob and more convenient for Betty. I’m the only one in the family who likes the City. And if Haymarket wouldn’t see Bob when he got here, I could always try the Way Back Inn next.

So I had a plan, even if I didn't have all the facts straight. All we needed was Bob.

Steve figured the odds at 80-20 against Bob showing up. I thought the odds about 50-50. Betty was sure Bob would get here – and she told me she felt really bad about leaving town under the circumstances. Then she laughed.

Somewhere along the line I spoke with Angel again. She promised to call me when she put Bob on the bus. That way, I’d know when to expect him.

Angel called back on August 2 – the day that Bob told me he’d probably arrive. Angel got him on the bus that morning. This is when she told me about the check. She told me the bus was expected in Chicago about mid-day Thursday, August 3. I did not have the presence of mind to ask the route number of the bus; when I went on line to look at the schedule, I didn’t find any bus that was scheduled to arrive when Angel said Bob was coming. But I found one that was scheduled to arrive within an hour of the time Angel mentioned. I figured that would be it.

Of course, I was wrong.

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