Marshall S.* is married with four adult, or nearly-adult, children. While his kids were growing up Marshall tried to consistently teach and model for them that integrity, honesty, kindness, forgiveness and good character were important traits to which they ought to aspire. Then Marshall, as one of the HUM teachers puts it, “really pooped out.”
A couple of years ago, during a time of deep depression and severe stress, Marshall began drinking heavily and crossed the line into alcoholism. He was drunk almost every day and when he was drunk he often acted very badly. He drove while drunk, sometimes with his children in the car. He was often out-of-control angry, verbally abusive and was even violent with his wife and one of his kids. Marshall gave his children plenty of good reasons to be angry and resentful. He feared that they would cut him off and refuse to ever have anything to do with him again. If they did, it would be understandable, he thought.
What could Marshall do to repair the damage he had done to his family? He desperately wanted to do something to help his family heal from the trauma he caused them with his drinking.
Over and over again though the only advice Marshall got from HUM staff was to “sit still, work on getting better, and pray.” Since following directions is the first step in successful recovery, Marshall decided to follow the advice. He participated fully in the HUM program and prayed every day for his family.
Four days before Father’s Day this year Marshall talked to his older daughter. She asked if he would come to dinner on that day. When he got to the house not only was Marshall’s daughter there with her husband and his granddaughter, but so were his older son and younger daughter. Throughout the day Marshall’s family expressed forgiveness, acceptance and love for him.
After dinner everyone had small gifts for Marshall. The last gift he opened was a journal given him by his daughter. On the inside cover she had written something that Marshall used to say to her every day when she was little. She wrote, “For Dad, On Father’s Day, I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the next.”
Gary A. Byers
Director of Spiritual Life