Blog entry

Tough Love?

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Just saying … A couple of months after we had “enrolled” our son into a treatment program in Los Angeles, we received a phone call from the Administrator. It was around 9 pm and he told us our son had left the facility and they were sure he was headed home and it was “vitally important” that we not let him into the house until he promised to return to the program. It was in the middle of the winter and the temperature was 27 degrees. This was my first venture using “tough love”.

At any rate, around 11 pm our son was knocking at the door and I met him with the phrase that if he did not agree to return to the program, I was not going to let him come into the house. He said he would not return and I said “that’s your choice” and shut the door. Our in-laws lived just around the corner, a couple blocks away and I knew our son would head there. Sure enough, when I walked into the front room, I saw my mother-in-law who was tearful and when I said “Where is he” she indicated he was in the workshop with my father-in-law. When I got to the workshop, my father-in-law (who served as a “belly-gunner” on a B-17 during the 2nd World War) was secretly making a bed for our son in the back of his pickup and when I told him our son was not going to stay – he confronted me and said “You can’t do this” – I told him “I can do whatever I need to; if it will save my son. I said “get out of my way” then told my son, if he did not agree to return to the program he could not stay with his grandparents either. My father-in-law stepped aside but gave our son a down sleeping bag, and his flight cap which he wore during World War 2. It was wool- lined and had ear flaps that covered the ears to keep them warm.

The image of my son walking down the street, with a sleeping bag under his arm and that flight cap on with the ear flaps sticking out – is, BURNED into my brain. The wind machines were running and the oil pumps were burning to protect the citrus fruits. It was now 25 degrees. I reassured my in-laws, as best I could and returned to the house where we spent the night in prayer and tears -, hoping we had done the right thing. At 7 am, there was a knock at the door – it was him – and he said: “Okay Mom, I’ll go back”. I asked where he spent the night – he said: “across the street in the orange orchard – I curled up close to an oil pump and slept all night”. My son is a survivor – but I vowed I would never use “tough love” again because … it’s all about that hope.

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