Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Living Saint

The other day I met a living saint. And after my encounter with him, I was awash in gratitude.

I ran into him at a barbershop in downtown Mesa a few days ago. He'd brought his two children, both in their 30s, to the shop to get a haircut.

Both had severe developmental disabilities. Each of the boys was over 180 pounds.

They had difficulty communicating and were quite uncoordinated. They were somewhat unruly and loud. But the father, who was all of 120 pounds, was the picture of patience.

When they would get too loud he would talk to them calmly. He’d direct them to sit down. Or to talk more quietly. And they would be calm for a moment, then something would grab their attention and they’d start becoming excited and raucous.

At one point they became enchanted with a music video a customer was playing on his cell phone. Both of the boys immediately went into disjointed dancing and began trying to sing to the music. When they became too boisterous the father spoke to them and they slowed down. They seemed to have the constant unfocused energy of three or four-year-olds. Yet the father never lost his composure or patience when they became overly hyperactive.

Later, after they’d left the shop, the barber told me their story. Apparently, the parents had been raising the boys all their lives. Then a few years ago the mother died and the father was raising them full time by himself.

Maybe because I'm a self-absorbed addict I can't imagine caring for anyone with their challenges - and for such a long time.

Yet this man dealt with them with almost a zen-like calm and peace. Maybe it is love or maybe it is because he needs to survive emotionally. Whatever it is, he has my respect and admiration.