Complete recovery is not simply getting sober and starting new life patterns. One of the final steps is restoring broken relationships that need mending then learning to live in community. For those from loving families it means reconciling those relationships.
This week we have a Homecoming to share.
Ken Harmon is a URM graduate and has been living in the Ambassadors wing for a number of years. The Ambassadors are actually residents who have qualified to stay as long as they are physically and mentally able to care for themselves. Ken is 79 years old and the oldest man in the mission.
For four years I’ve been having conversations with Ken about contacting his family but he wasn’t ready. Two years ago Deed & Truth offered to send him back to see his family for Christmas but again he wasn’t ready. Ken hasn’t talked to or seen his family for ten years. He said he was too ashamed to get back into their lives and feared their rejection. He has three sisters and three sons in Chicago and Colorado.
About three months ago Ken came into my office and handed me a piece of paper. On this paper he had written the names of five people. As he handed it to me he said, “I’m finally ready.” The five names were his family members. He asked me if I could locate them so we could get in contact with them.
With the help of Google I was able to locate one of them so I made the call. His sister was on the other line and I introduced myself and brought her up to speed on her brother’s whereabouts and his current physical, mental, and spiritual health. I asked her if she’d like to talk to her brother Ken. She said they were just talking about Ken recently at a family gathering and they had longed to hear from him.
Ken got on the phone and they had a lovely conversation. Since that call Ken called all five of the family on his list. All, but his oldest son, were extremely warm and receptive. His oldest son had some anger about the years that had passed without a word. Ken understood how he felt.
At the end of February the family had planned a family reunion in Las Vegas and his sister bought him a plane ticket to attend. The morning I was suppose to take him to LAX he informed Seth, the program assistant, that he decided he wasn’t going so Seth called me. I told Ken to get on the phone. Ken informed me he was having emotional reservations. We had a good talk about how normal that emotion would be for anyone in those circumstances but this was the right thing to do in his life journey to wellness. He agreed and packed his bag.
On the way to the airport a thought came to me and I shared it with Ken. I asked Ken if he thought this might not actually be a vacation but a transition. Maybe God was preparing for Ken to move back to be with his family. He was very curious and open to that possibility.
Given Ken is not as mobile as he used to be and hadn’t been to an airport in a long time to was good they let me take him all the way to his gate to see him off. His sister called when he arrived so I knew he made it.
They sent pictures of the family and informed me they were having a wonderful time. Ken was talkative and smiling a lot.
From Vegas he went back to visit his sisters in Colorado. It had been over two weeks so I called to see how they were getting along and his sister got Ken on the phone and they informed me that they had invited Ken to live in their four-bedroom home. Ken accepted. I am going to send him a few of his personal items and he is going to start writing a new chapter to his life.
Ken has made it full circle in his recovery. This is the goal for everyone who falls prey to addiction and homelessness… to get back to their family if they are safe. Ken is pleased to announce that the mission was the way home but now he is home with his family just in time to celebrate his 80th birthday this next year.