Hello, my name is Annie Sheahan, and I want to tell you about my father; but, first, you have to understand something about me.  I am a recovering addict, and will be clean/sober 9 years this September 1, 2016. Normally, I do not "look" that far ahead as far as recovery goes - it's just a day at a time.  However, for the point of this story, you need all the facts, and they are this:  I was in active addiction for 26 years, I am 54 years old, and my father, bless him, will be 91 years old on July 27, 2016.  He is amazing in my opinion; in 2004, he had to have a triple bypass and, once released from the hospital, he either walked six miles or rode his bike 12 miles, every day, to return to good physical health - he has seven children and I think he is still in better shape than any of us!  In 2011, September 21st, to be exact, and at 86 years old, my father was working as a crossing guard for a local grammar school, approximately 400 students, K-5th grade. He had just taken his "post" for school dismissal when a young adult male, who was texting while he was driving, hit my father with his car - and tried to blame my father for it! - sending my dad careening up in the air. When he landed, on his back, he also scraped the crown of his head on the driver's bumper, tearing a "flap" of his head on three sides - just laid it open a good 2-3 inches. He also broke his ankle so seriously that, while his leg was knee-up, his right foot was turned at a 90 degree angle, he also had multiple contusions, road rash, and a concussion. He was air-lifted to the Med in Memphis, TN, where he was an inpatient for 30 days, after which he spent another 3 weeks in the Baptist Memorial Rehabilitation Center, learning how to get around on a walker, a wheelchair, etc. The rehabilitation center also sent out a couple of guys to install a wheelchair ramp at the front door of their home, so he could wheel himself to the driveway for "pick-up" to go to his physical therapy sessions starting out a five days/week. My father was not allowed to put any weight on his right ankle/foot for a period that extended to February 26, 2012. I returned home to my parents' house for that entire five month period, to assist in any way I could, with my father, my mother (who is physically debilitated and unable to drive), and my son (a high school senior at the time), whom my parents raised, formally adopted in 2005, when it appeared that my lifestyle choices were going to send me to prison for quite some time - in fact, my father "found" me at the Shelby County Correctional Facility to tell me they would like my permission for said adoption, but would proceed forward without it should I withhold my permission...he cried as he told me this. I gave my permission.

When my son enlisted in the Navy, and was sent to The Great Lakes Naval Academy, just over the Illinois/Wisconsin state line, my parents, originally from Chicago, packed up their belongings and relocated back to Chicago in order to provide my son with a home when/if he was granted liberty and/or just needed to touch base with family; with his parents. I am just "Ma" to my son, his parents are my parents and I'm good with that. When I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired of my life, I entered a behavioral health hospital that specializes in addiction issues and dual-diagnosed psychological issues (which most addicts have in spades!), on September 1, 2007 and have been clean/sober since then. My father sent me a birthday card for my 46th birthday; in that card was a $20.00 (much needed!) bill and a message that means so much more than the $20.00; he told me that I was starting to earn his respect back. At my 5-year [clean] birthday celebration, my father, my mother, my son, along with a few friends of my son's, drove down to my then-current home in Mississippi, from Tennessee, to be a part of that celebration. Unbeknownst to anyone other than my mother, my father had lost one of his hearing aids and the battery had died in the other one; my father sat through the "birthday speaker meeting" without being able to hear a single word! After I received my 5-year coin, my father asked if he could say something; he stood up, looked at me with tears running down his face and the only words he could get out were "my daughter...my daughter..." before he completely broke down and just hugged me. He told me, before they left that same night, how proud I made him, how much respect he has gained for me and what I was doing with my life (I had just earned my BS degree in Psychology, and was starting on my MS degree in Psychology of Addictions) and, even though he couldn't hear a darn thing during the meeting, he could tell I was having a serious impact on my fellow recovering addicts, and he loved me - very much. There was a time when my father was going to leave my mother, due to my addictions and her inability to see how I was manipulating her, as well as making their home unbearable. From that to "starting to earn my respect again" to "I love you and am so proud of you" was a definite journey in humility for me but, also, for my father. He could have never forgiven me, never wanted me to be a part of his, and their, lives again, but he wasn't like that. I am currently going through some very serious issues with my son - not related to addiction - that have caused some very serious financial issues for me; I relocated to TN at my son's request, and spent from 09/15 to 03/16 being the only one who paid the rent etc. (I am physically disabled), while living on a very fixed income and, due to these issues I have lost my vehicle (repossessed), lost my place in school (though I am trying very hard to get back into a school to complete my MS-Psychology), lost all my personal belongings due to a lack of transportation, as well as indifference on the part of my son, and I am currently stuck in a two-bedroom apartment, with two dogs (mine as well as my son's dog), no vehicle, paying more than double what I paid for a 3-bedroom house in Monroe County, MS. Yes, I am hurt, confused, angry, and resentful of my child for thinking he has no responsibility here, whatsoever and, maybe, he's correct. After all, I am the parent. However, I did much more damage to my parents, especially to my father, and he found a way to forgive me, to be proud of me, to love me despite flaws. When the time comes for my son and I to work out our issues; I only pray I can be half as forgiving as my father has been to me.  I miss my father, so very much. I wish I could go to Chicago to see him, and my mother. I have no idea how many more Father's Days we will have with him.

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