“Where ever in the world we were,” Bill said. “Whatever it was we were doing, we were expected to stop and to join my parents for Sunday dinner. If you couldn’t be there in person, you could be there by telephone and everyone looked forward to your call.”
As a kind and loving man, Bill shared this short story with me many years ago and it touched my heart and I believe as you read his story, it will touch yours.
Bill was one of six children, raised in Cleveland by their parents in a grand old house in a modest black neighborhood. Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and family friends were actively involved in their lives and on Sunday afternoon and evening everybody came together.
Everyone gathered in the home, the living room, the kitchen, the porch and if weather permitted, in the yard and discussed current events.
Whatever was in the news got attention but so did a new boyfriend, a new dress, a new job and upcoming family outings or vacations, and there was more than a little gossip.
Bill’s brothers and sisters lived in the Cleveland area and from the time each was a tiny tot, they knew Sunday’s family dinner was very special. And now they came with their husbands or wives and children if they had any so they too could join the family tradition.
But Bill lived in Los Angeles and as a limousine driver, met celebrities and got caught up in a fast life that included heavy drug use. At first, he had been in denial about his drug addiction because in his crowd, what he was doing was common.
However, when he stopped calling home on Sunday, his family knew something was wrong and dispatched family members to visit him. When he saw the anger and the pity in their eyes and as he listened to them, Bill was ashamed of himself.
“I’d never want my parents to see me this way,” he said sadly.
Bill knew his parents would get a full report of his life in Los Angeles and that his mother would be overwhelmed by tears and that his father’s heart would ache. He had to do something dramatic to assure them he would put his life back together and that’s what he did.
With the help of his family, Bill confronted his addiction and went into rehab.
“Without my family’s support,” Bill said softly as tears welled up in his eyes and trickled down his cheeks, “I wouldn’t be here today.”
When I met Bill, he was again a limo driver but he was also two years sober and in top physical condition. He’d become a runner and an expert dietician, paying careful attention as to what went into his body. He had regained his self-respect, his enthusiasm and his love of life. His boss also told me his firm considered him the finest of their fleet of drivers.
And one more thing, Bill periodically visited Cleveland so his family could see for themselves how well he was doing, and never again did a Sunday dinner pass without a call from him.