A Bar – Poem by Darren Westbrook
Sometimes it’s called a bar,
A bar to heaven a door to hell.
Whoever named it named it well.
A bar to manliness and wealth;
A door to want and broken health.
A bar to honor, pride and fame.
A door to grief and sin and shame.
A bar to joys that home imparts.
A door to tears and aching hearts.
A bar to heaven a door to hell,
Whoever named it named it well.
“Awww, come on Johnny, just one drink won’t hurt. You can take just one. Come on down to the bar with me.” Alfred said.
He had been sober for two years. He was feeling pretty good about himself, proud of the fact that he had kept his promise to her.
“Why not,” he thought. “I can handle this, I have done great for two years, just one drink and then I”ll go home.”
She waited and worried. “What had happened to him.” she thought.” He had not been late for supper for two years. They had been so happy.
Nin had no idea when she married J.B. that alcoholism would threaten her marriage. They were in love, he was her prince and she was sure that all would be well.
“Two years, two great years and now this.” she said to herself.
It was 1:00 when he came home. “Drunk as a skunk”, she told her mother. The nightmare started all over again and it ended many years later in divorce.
Everyone of the “rellies” was affected. All who knew him were saddened that such a nice man could end up like this…no job, no family, no home, homeless and penniless, that is what happened to J.B. because he took just one drink.
J.B. was born into what could be described as a moderately wealthy family by comparison to others in the depression era. His father owned a successful business and the family had a nice home. They had come to America seeking a better life and had found it.
There were many “strikes” against J.B. The biggest of which was that his mother died when he was at a vulnerable age and his father remarried. The step-mother and he did not get along so he moved out. He did not finish high school and so his job opportunities were limited.
His dad took him into the business and he learned to weld. He was good at it, so I have been told. But, he had wanderlust in his soul.
As a young man he “hopped a freight” and headed south. He rode the rails, trying to stay a step ahead of the “dics” who would sometimes beat up the “bums” if they caught them. If you didn’t have a job you were considered a bum, a good for nothing.
He started hanging around the gyms, watching the boxers as they sparred with one another. He was scrappy and asked to be considered for Golden Gloves training. He never went very far, but well into his years he loved a good boxing match.
As a young man, he could handle his liquor, or so he thought. Many times he would get paid, go to the bar and when he was sober wonder where his money went.
He met Nin when he was 25. She was not like the other women he kept company with. She was pure and she was pretty. He was taken with her.
When she moved to be near him, they went to the bars together. This was a new world to her. It was exciting at first, but when they married and the children came, she no longer wanted to be part of it. Her upbringing kicked in.
A mother was to be at home and take care of her children.
It was seven children and many years later when they divorced. They loved each other, but the alcoholism colored their world and she could not do it anymore.
I am the oldest of seven. As I get close to the end of my sojourn here, I think more seriously about life, love and faith.
I see and I have seen first hand what alcoholism can do to a family. Like many with my experience, I hate alcohol!
My youngest son has walked my Dad’s path almost exactly. Each of us makes his own decisions. In spite of much prayer and the faith of those who pray for us, it is our decisions that dictate our path in life.
My oldest son does not have the “weakness”. He likes “a cold beer on a hot day after mowing the yard.” He is not addicted.
Why does one become addicted and another does not? I don’t know the answer.
This I do know, without alcohol my Dad was kind, generous and an interesting man. I had the good pleasure of getting to know him for several years before he died.
Alcoholism changes a man into another person. My Dad was a mean drunk. He was stubborn, blasphemous, and a womanizer under the influence of alcohol.
Inhibitions go, walls come down and a man will do things drunk that he would never do sober.
I am happy to tell you that my Dad came to Jesus, reconciled with my Mom, and in general turned from sin to the Lord before he died. Thank you Lord!
Wherever you are in your relation to alcohol, please consider my story.
If you are young, you may be able to “handle it” for awhile. Youth can do many things that age cannot, and you too are aging every day.
Life is a process, everything we do is a process. There is a beginning and there is an end. Often, the beginning determines the end.
Why start something that is detrimental, that does not help you be a better person, or provide a lasting benefit?
Pause and calmly consider is what I am asking.
God loves you and has a great plan for your life. You hold the key in your hand. What is that key for you?