Jim told his story tonight at Hazelden. He did a great job. He’s an awesome speaker, getting both laughs and applauses. It’s quite an honor to be asked to speak at the treatment center that’s pretty much invented the current 28 day treatment program prescribed to most sufferring alcoholics and addicts.
I’d never been up there before, but it’s an awesome place. It makes the place I went to treatment look like a Hollywood Video in a stripmall off a two-lane highway in a 4th ring suburb. Hazelden on the otherhand, resembles a prestigous private university campus:
Check out the photo tour page of the facilities on their website.
It’s up in Center City, MN – about an hour north of the Sin Cities, a.k.a., Minneapolis – St. Paul. On the way there you drive through a couple of really small towns that are purley Scandanavian and German. The small town culture up there is cute and endearing, but I can just imagine some of the folks going into treatment, just off the plane from LA or New York, driving through these towns. What must be going through their heads when they see the sign the nicest restaurant in town – Trappers. The only hint of civilization is a Hardeez that you have to drive down a pot-hole infested frontage road that may as well have been gravel.
But once you take that right turn on Pleasant Valley Rd., and another right on the curvacious and hilly private drive, you enter a world of walking paths through dense forests. A half mile into the adventure you come upon the campus – hidden from the rest of the world. It’s what I imagine is a great place to come and find yourself.
On the way up there I spoke with my Grandma on the phone. She talked about staying at Hazelden for a week with my Grandfather for part of his treatment program for alcoholism. I have a hard time judging just how much of it she understood, or cares to lead-on to knowing. I think that she’s more comfortable playing dumb and not talking about the real reasons he was there. He passed on about 10 years ago now and I believe she prefers to remember him as the perfect husband and father. He was a great grandfather to me, but I can imagine he had room for improvement in the father/husband role, being a practicing alcoholic. Who knows if I should even have these thoughts? Who am I to think and write these things?
My grandfather died of Alcoholism and Tuberculosis. He always appeared happy to me and made me laugh. However all the time I knew him he didn’t appear physically well. By the time he finally passed his liver had all but shriveled up and he had 80% of his lungs removed. He required an oxygen machine to live and was barely mobile. I never knew him any different and I loved him anyway. I’m rambling now, but it was nice to think back on the memories I have of him.
Jim and I drove back into town and as I merged from one freeway to another, I noticed the most interesting sight. A BMW X5 SUV was towing a UHaul trailer. It occurred to me that I’d never actually seen one of those luxury brand SUVs ever tow anything. Sure, I’ve seen Chevy’s and Fords towing around boats, trailers, and the like … but a UHaul truck being toted along by an X5? It was utterly absurd. What would the other X5 drivers think if they saw that?