Sunday, April 16, 2017

Night Time Rituals

Everyone seems to have before bed rituals. For most they are personal. Seems for most people they do not change no matter where you are; on vacation, at home, traveling on business, whatever or wherever you happen to be at the time.

For the parent of an addict there is always a thought or a prayer to end the madness in that bedtime ritual. Many times tears are a part of laying your head on the pillow.

Something I incorporated into my night time ritual was to deliberate on a simple question. "What did I learn?" It's a simple short question but is so powerful for the parent of an addict.

Self care is critical for any person with a loved one suffering from addiction. Self care may include a massage or a vacation but the most important self care I found for me was knowledge and information.

When we ask our self, "What did I learn?" it opens the door to new learning and unlearning. There are 3 types of learning; old learning, new learning and unlearning. Unlearning is the hardest, when we learn what we thought to be true but find it isn't, we unlearn and find a new path to learning.

As we begin a process of self learning we build a knowledge base that works for future days.

At times as I begin to process the learning, the day and experiences I would play out scenarios in my mind on how to handle future encounters for myself and my loved one. By applying my learning each day I was better prepared to handle any crisis or drama the next day.

Learning and preparation provided me a small measure of peace each day.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Sister Has Passed

Yesterday, March 7, 2017 my sister passed away. She was diagnosed with uterine cancer in July, 2016.

My sister was named after my father, his formal name was Ivan Glen Grover. Gigi was a shortened version of Glenda Gale Grover.

My sister was a homebody. Except for a very short period out of high school she lived in the same house where she was born and raised. Mom and Gigi made a home together after my dad passed in 1982.

I am not sure at times what the roles were in that home. Sometimes I think it was Mom caring for Gigi and at times Gigi was caring for Mom. Especially later in life Gigi fell into the role of primary caregiver when Mom began showing signs of dementia. I really believe it was a symbiotic relationship throughout both their lives.

As each of us live our lives we create a legacy. A legacy doesn't just incorporate a few achievements. A legacy can include lessons learned and taught. My sister left several personal memories for each person that knew her but I want to speak to an unintended legacy.

Gigi was not one to visit doctors. Maybe there were personal reasons but there was also one overriding financial reason, most of her life she did not have or afford health insurance. This is not a political statement, this is about lessons from her life.

Access to and going to the doctor and having yourself checked is a matter of life and death.

The 5-year survival rate for women with uterine cancer is 82%. The 10-year survival rate is 79%. If the cancer is diagnosed and it is still only in the area it started, called local, the 5-year survival rate is about 95%. If the cancer has spread regionally, the 5-year survival rate is about 68%.

Gigi was not diagnosed early. She was diagnosed in July 2016 and gone in March 2017. Maybe she could have been one of those 95%, maybe not. No one could possibly know for sure. But, for sure we know early diagnosis helps.

A lot of medical exams may be embarrassing and are not pleasant but watching my sister die from this disease was not pleasant either.

Ladies, get those annual exams. Men, don't forget you need to be prodded and poked too.

Rest in peace Gigi

You will be missed by many

Friday, February 3, 2017


Again, I get an email from a teacher asking if I have time to speak with his classes about my story.

Every school I visit the teachers tell me of the fear they have for their students. Stories that kids have related to them and the help students have reached out and ask for help to help them through terrible situations. The teachers want a way to help guide their students.

Stories come back to me from the teachers after I speak about the impression I had on their kids. They, like me cling to that hope we help them to make a good decision.

I dream of the time when a young person is faced with that choice to try something, words flash in their mind of a speaker they heard in class. I dream of a student confiding in a teacher or adult that they were presented with a choice and they did the right thing. Not because they might get caught, but because it was the right thing to do.

Even if you aren't teacher or a public speaker. Please take the time to tell a young person you are there for them. It's easy to believe in someone, it's more important to have someone believe in you. Think about what means to a young person or to yourself.

When any of us look around hopefully we see outstretched hands. Grasp a hand. We all need them sometime.

Teachers, a special message for you. 

Thank You for what you do and the hands you have outstretched to all those hungry students. I believe in you and what you do!!! 

(teachers, please share what you are doing in your class or with students. experiences you have had. the more we share the smarter and better we all become.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Another Blogger

Another mom with a son in recovery has decided to blog about her experience parenting and addict.

Please take a moment to visit and offer your thoughts.

Holding Your Breath Waiting To Breathe

Monday, December 19, 2016

Masters Degree #2

Yesterday I got to sit on an uncomfortable bench in a noisy gymnasium to watch our oldest daughter graduate from Baker University with her second Masters Degree. On Sunday she achieved a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

Erica is the first in our family to achieve a degree from college. She got her Bachelors in Science and Nursing (BSN) from Baker and got her first Masters in Science and Nursing Administration (MSN) from Kansas University.

Needless to say, Dad and Mom are very proud.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Top Recovery Blogs of 2016

I received an email from Paul that runs several Recovery Blogs in the United Kingdom. Again this year "An Addict In Our Son's Bedroom" has been selected as one of the top 80 recovery blogs worldwide.

I am proud and happy to receive a reward like this. To think that people read my words and find answers and comfort is a reward beyond measure.

Attached is a link to the entire list. The blogs are listed in alphabetical order so to find me listed look for #46. Top Recovery Blogs 2016

In this list are some fine blogs written by people I have met personally or online that I read for comfort and consider these people dear friends.

    Friday, November 18, 2016

    Summarizing A Week

    It's Friday evening and time to decompress. A week of speaking to students can be emotional draining. For old broken knees like mine standing for multiple hours speaking can be physically taxing too.

    As I sit here his evening what comes back are the little things. Thank you and handshakes from students that take a second to express their appreciation as they rush to the next class.

    Reviewing and thinking about what I said, not during the presentation, been doing that for eight years now. My uncertainty is when I speak one on one with a student or teacher. Did I say the right thing to students when they ask questions during the presentation? I do my best. Maybe me being there just to hear the question or statement can be enough.

    Small moments mean so much. I want to share some of those moments

    - When a teacher dabs tears throughout the whole presentation and comes to me and says, "I was crying inside and outside the whole time you sisters child...."

    - A student asks, "Can you help me? What should I do to help my sister"

    - A student listens to the presentation with a very stressed look on her face. Eyes not even blinking the whole time.

    - A student begins to cry in class. I ask the teacher if she can help and they leave the room together.

    - A student tells me that is exactly what it is like when you have an addict in the family.

    - A student comes to me after class shakes my hand vigorously, saying thank you, thank you over and over.

    - Two different classes ask to hear the story again. Even though they had heard it 2 years ago.

    - A teacher finds out I am speaking and he asks the scheduling teacher, can I open the classroom so my students can hear too?

    - A student during my entire speech making comments and asking questions but I can see him doing something pencil on paper. After class he gives me a very good pencil sketch of me speaking.

    - Students come into the classroom during the off period. They are talking to the teacher and all of a sudden one student, "I know you. You spoke to us 2 years ago." They begin repeating my story back to me.

    - A ten minute conversation with a student going to rehab.

    - The smiles on students faces when I tell them about my son's life today clear and sober. I can feel the love from them and sincere happiness he is where he is today.

    - Students in a class planning to enter the medical profession. Spending 3 hours intently listening and talking to me about addiction and recovery

    So many experiences that provide the reward for doing something like this that may sound simple and routine after eight years. There is nothing about this that is simple and routine. With every presentation I give each person a piece of me. I do it willingly. I feel honored every time they accept that piece.

    The week after Thanksgiving I will be back at it again. I have two presentations at the Johnson County Resort. I will be speaking to juveniles again at the Johnson County Detention Center.....Wish me luck.

    Thursday, November 17, 2016

    Busy Week, It Ain't Over

    It's Thursday and I just finished 3 presentations today to students at Basehor Linwood High School. On Wednesday I did one presentation there. On Tuesday I was at Shawnee Mission East High School all day with hourly presentations. On Monday I was at the Climax Springs School District in Climax Springs, MO and did two presentations, one to grades 10-12 and one to grades 7-9. I usually tone down my presentation for the younger students.

    I'll be back at it again tomorrow. On Friday it will be a new experience and different presentation. The students I am speaking with tomorrow have already heard my stock presentation. A new teacher that is an RN is teaching a new class to students interested careers in the health field. They are studying addiction and because her students have heard my first talk we put our heads together and came up with a different game plan.

    The study plan for tomorrow is a group discussion. I provided a number of terms related to addiction and recovery and the teacher created student teams to research the terms and we are having a group discussion about what they have learned. My role is to provide advocate or devils advocate in these discussions. Students are to talk, listen and think deeply about addiction and recovery from a medical perspective.

    Here is the list of terms I provided and they have been researching:

    a)  12 step programs, AA, NA, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon

    b)  Harm reduction programs

    c)  Tough love

    d)  Chemical recovery agents

    e)  Medically supervised detox vs. detox

    f)  Suboxone, Vivitrol, Methadone, Antiabuse

    g)  Narcan, is it good or enabling?

    h) CRAFT, Community Reinforcement and Family Training

    i)  Rehab models, ie. 12 step, boot camp, wilderness, etc

    j)  Legal and illegal drug models. is the war on drugs working or do we make them all legal and treat addiction

    This what I provided the teacher and tomorrow we will see how much I learn. I'm suppose to be the resident expert and that makes me REAL nervous. Feel free to provide me any thoughts, I'm going to need them. I'll be with some pretty smart students.

    Monday, October 24, 2016

    Speaking Engagements

    I have a week of speaking engagements coming up. The week of Nov. 14 I am speaking all five days at 3 different schools.

    On Monday I am speaking at the Climax Springs High School in Missouri. This is the school district where our lake house is located.

    After I am done in Climax Springs I am driving back to KC to speak at Basehor Linwood and Shawnee Mission East in Kansas.

    When I started speaking at schools I never dreamed that eight years later I would still be speaking and drug addiction would be as bad or worse than it was when I started. The one thing I have found beneficial is when parents attend the talks. I get reports from teachers that parents and kids continue the discussion when they get home. That gives me hope.

    Today on Facebook one of the posts I made four years ago about one of my school talks flashed up to share as a memory. I'd like to share what I wrote on Facebook four years ago.

    Second middle school done today. Afterwards parents and students, so many questions and experiences shared. Probably the biggest impact was the smallest gesture. I'm standing alone and a little girl walks slowly to me. She asked me, "Can I get your phone number" in barely a whisper. I give her a card and ask if she needs anything else and if she was OK. She just looks down shakes her head in a sad way, tucks the card in her pocket and quickly walks away.

    Friday, September 16, 2016

    Recovery Blogs

    Got an email notifying me that "An Addict In Our Son's Bedroom" has been recognized by as one of the best 20 recovery blogs.

    It's quite an honor for us to be read so far and wide. Port Of Call is based in the United Kingdom. I guess not bad for a non-professional, simple parent of an addict located in the middle of the United States.

    This goes to prove that with addiction and recovery there are no borders, oceans or boundaries that cannot be crossed.

    This is a direct quote copied and pasted from their site. "This is one of the best drug addiction blogs for family and friends of an addict or person in recovery. Seeing a loved one go through addiction can be the hardest time of anyone’s life and this very honest account provides comfort for anyone that knows somebody going through addiction treatment. For me that's quite a compliment

    Thank You Port of Call for this recognition.

    Thursday, September 15, 2016

    A Captive Audience

    I have been ask again to speak at the "Johnson County Resort."

    If you are a long time reader you know why I have renamed the institution. Catch up for those that are new, our son spent many a night at the Johnson County Resort, or aka Johnson County Department of Corrections.

    On Tuesday evening I will be speaking this time to juveniles.

    Johnson County Department of Corrections has been recognized nationwide because of their new and innovative methods of handling offenders addicted to drugs and alcohol. If you want to read more look at the menu bar on the left side of page.

    The last time I spoke at the Johnson County Resort it was to inmates in the Therapeutic Community, (TC).

    It will be different talking to these young people. Most of the time I am talking at schools and my message is more tailored to don't go down this path. This time I will be talking to young people that are already on that path. I am going to say many of the same things but talk more about help and second chances.

    If anyone has any suggestions on points you think I should cover that might help a young person.......let me know.

    Here is why I continue to talk.

    Monday, September 12, 2016

    A Mentor

    Last week I visited a friend and my mentor. He was 98 years old on Sept. 11.
    I met this person nearly 30 years ago. I was just a little past 30 years old myself; doing the math he was in his upper 60’s. I have often wondered to myself why would a wise and renowned man near the end of his career spend time with a young person at the beginning of his career? Guess that question answers itself in that he did. Sometimes there doesn’t have to be an explanation.
    As the years pass I have been thinking about how do you define “mentor” and how do you find/choose a mentor. Of course, a mentor is not something you just set out to do one day. A mentor is a special person that accepts a person as a raw material that is capable of transformation. You cannot choose a mentor. A mentor allows you.
    Mentor is a term used loosely in life and in the workplace. I often heard leaders at work and in the community proclaim, “We must develop mentors to pair up with our young people.” Sadly, those are nothing more than “tour guides.”
    A mentor is willing to share knowledge but much more important a mentor shares learning and how to learn in life.
    For me a mentor is not someone that necessarily has to be walking your path. A mentor knows how to see and understand your path. It isn’t about having someone to talk too. A mentor that accepts you as a person that understands how you learn and what you need and when you need it.
    It’s easy for anyone to provide opinions and answers. A real mentor shares wisdom.
    Why is it I don’t see what a wise man sees? A real mentor has the ability to help you open your eyes and mind. We all know how two people can pass the same spot and see different things. My mentor sees beyond the obvious.
    A mentor doesn’t point out the things unseen. A mentor teaches you to see the things unseen. Teaches you how to learn. A skill much more valuable than any answer that can be spoken.
    My personal dilemma is how do you express appreciation to a man that has spent 30 years teaching me?
    The only way I know how to answer that question is to live my life with the lessons learned from a wise man.

    Sunday, August 21, 2016

    Mom Has Passed

    Yesterday my mom passed away. She was 86 years old and suffering from dementia. 

    On August 1st she was moved into a nursing home. It became too hard to take care of a loved one that requires care 24/7. Those are the decisions that are gut wrenching. 

    Watching and experiencing the decline causes a person to think about their own future and mortality. How do prepare for a future that may include dementia. Experts say that if your parents suffer from dementia you have a much better chance experiencing the same future. That causes me much consternation. I do not want my children experiencing me as I age backward.

    I know it's controversial but if I get to this point take me to the vet and get me a shot. I've owned many dogs and pets in my life that I loved dearly. With each one they did not suffer at the end of their life. It hurts to watch that liquid being injected, but peace is the reward for both of us.

    I told Darlene if I get to this point I have a plan. Everyone knows I enjoy hunting at my cousins farm in western Kansas. I told her if I get to that point take me out to the farm. Put me a straddle of a barb wire fence and then shoot me. Leave my gun beside me like it was an accident and walk away. Now every two weeks she asks me if I want to go hunting.

    Ina Lucille Grover, age 86 of Kansas City, Kansas passed away peacefully August 20, 2016. She was preceded in death by her husband Ivan Glenn Grover, Mother, Father, and 9 siblings.
    She is survived by her 3 children Ron (Darlene) Gigi, and Brian (Anita) Grover, 5 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.
    Visitation will be Tuesday, 6:00-8:00 PM at the Butler Meyers Funeral Home, 6300 Paralllel Pkwy., Kansas City, KS.
    Funeral services, 10:00 A.M., Wednesday August 24, 2016 at the funeral home. Burial Chapel Hill Cemetery.
    In lieu of flowers the family suggest memorial contributions to the Alzheimer Association, 3846 W 75th St, Prairie Village, KS 66208

    Wednesday, August 10, 2016

    Busy Year

    Just a quick note to my previous post about the father who had a sign in his yard about his daughter. He called me and we talked for a 15-20 minutes and I promised to stop by next time I'm in Sedalia, MO and we would have coffee or something.

    It's been a busy year, no big concerns about our son, he is still doing fine.  Alex is working and raising a family, that is enough to keep anyone busy.

    A little update on Darlene. Some of you may remember that last year Darlene was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is doing fine. Clear margins and all the surgeries are complete. Early this summer her last doctor visit was completed and she got her nipple tattoos.

    During all of this my mother's dementia got progressively worse. Last week we had to put her in a nursing home. So far she is not acclimating to life in her new place. She thinks she is being held hostage in a casino.  I played along and told her they won't let her go until she loses enough money. I know it's not nice to tease an old person but if you aren't laughing you are crying.

    She refuses to take her medicine because she believes they are giving her pills to kill her. She is taking her medicine now because I gave the nurse one of the "daily pill" boxes we were using at home and now she thinks I bring the pills in each day because they dump the pills into her hand out of the pill boxes we were using.

    The doctor has added some Xanex to her pill mix to get her calmed down. She is pretty drugged up but that is OK with me right now to help her settle down. We can begin adjusting the dosages down as she becomes used to her new place.

    The staff and I have been working closely to try and get her settled. It takes a lot more patience than I possess.

    The nursing home is very nice with lots of activities and the staff seems very caring and gentle.

    It's hard to practise self care when so much is happening but everyone needs to take care of themselves no matter what is going on around you. I've been trying to spend some time at the lake with the kids. That is my way of taking care of myself.

    Monday, July 18, 2016

    Speed of Light Back in Time

    (please click on pic to read the sign)

    On my way to the lake today I took a different route through Sedalia, MO. It's a bit longer but I just wanted different scenery. Driving through Sedalia on US Highway 50 this sign was in a yard of a house. 

    At my first opportunity I made a U-turn. Pulling into the driveway I didn't know exactly what I was going to say but I knew I had to say something. Walking slowly to the front door I worked up the courage and rang the bell then knocked on the door. No one was home. I stood there for a second but felt like I couldn't leave. Walking into the front yard I took this picture.

    I still couldn't leave without saying something to the people that posted this sign. Was it their daughter? Was it a friend? Was it a wife? Was she a mother? I didn't know but I knew they cared VERY much for this person and she must have been loved VERY much.

    Searching through my truck I could not find a pad of paper. The best I could do was an old envelope from a boat registration. I began writing. It was hard to string words together but I wanted them to know how much good they were doing for others with this sign. Removing the stigma is the first step in the battle to help others.

    I wrote till I ran out of paper. Then I took one of the business cards I make available at my talks and I took one of my Partnership at Drugfree Kids cards and wedged them all in the back door.

    As I backed out onto the busy highway my stomach was in knots and my heart was hurting, not from the traffic. Driving east on Highway 50 a few miles I was still sad until a tear feel down my cheek for this poor girl.

    The realization that on this day I am the luckiest parent in the world struck home. I could have had a sign like this in my yard, but I don't. My son is in recovery today and every day I AM the luckiest father on Earth.

    It is sad, but with people like these it gives me hope and confidence that one day we will slay the monster.

    Sunday, June 19, 2016

    Happy Fathers Day

    This is a post from a year ago I feel that is worth repeating.

    On this Father's Day there are a lot of us that have lost our fathers, some long ago and some not so long ago. While we remember and miss our dad's let us not forget there are others with a hole in their heart.

    There are many Father's that have lost their child.

    As we remember and miss our fathers on this special day let us not forget the pain of those fathers that miss a child.

    Last year I ask everyone to remember those fathers that have lost a child to addiction or for any other terrible reason. I want to step it up this year. All you fathers out there reading this please reach out to a father that has lost a child and send them a message and hug of Happy Fathers Day. Let them know they are not forgotten on this day.

    Saturday, May 21, 2016

    Pinch Me, Am I Dreaming

    Six years ago in May and June of 2010 we were discovering how deep our son's addiction had progressed. We were in shock and after the shock wore off we snapped back to a stark reality. We began discussing what no parent should have to consider. Darlene and I began openly discussing what happens if our son dies.

    We began discussing funeral arrangements, we drove through the cemetery down the street looking at open spots. Our heart was broken and we had not given up but we had resigned ourselves to a horrible eventuality.

    Our despair was so evident I allowed myself to post about what we expected in July 2010.

    Last night we attended the Commencement Exercises at Johnson County Community College. In the Commencement Program this was printed:

    Associate of Arts and Science

    I know many that read here have loved ones still struggling. I guess the only advice I have is to always look towards tomorrow. No matter how bad it may seem none of us know what will happen tomorrow, we don't even know what will happen the next minute or second.

    Never give up, never stop loving and never stop taking care of yourself. People need you and your loved one needs you too if that day comes when they have a profound experience and enter recovery.

    Needless to say I am proud of my son. This is just one step. In these six years since 2010 he has bought a house, works a full time job, is a father to three wonderful children and loves a partner as we all wish we could and should. 

    Sunday, May 8, 2016

    Mother's Day

    Last Fathers Day I wrote a message about those that have lost their father as I had so long ago.
    Not to ignore those mothers that have lost a child I want to reprint my post here with a couple of edits.
    On this Mother's Day there are many that have lost their mothers, some long ago and some not so long ago. While we remember and miss mom's let us not forget there are others with a hole in their heart.
    There are many Mother's that have lost their child.
    As we remember and miss mothers on this special day let us not forget the pain of those mothers that miss a child.

    Monday, May 2, 2016


    I've reached that magical age of 60 where I am allowed, or expected to be that crotchety old guy in the neighborhood. Yelling at kids, get of my lawn, turn that down, go someplace else to play.

    Not for me.

    I have a big yard with no fence. Play in my yard. Throw the ball, mark off a baseball field, ride your bikes, scream, run and play. There are apples, peaches, plums and cherries in the trees. Grapes are on the vines and blueberries are growing in the bushes. You see something you want, eat it. No need to wash it off, fully organic here, wipe it on your shirt. Fly specks and maybe a worm in an apple will not hurt you. The best fruit doesn't come from a shelf in a grocery store. Climb this trees, just be careful and don't fall.

    I want to hear the laughter and the fun. It keeps me young. No matter whose kids they are.

    There is a much bigger reward in raising kids than raising grass.

    Saturday, April 9, 2016

    Addiction Won't Magically Go Away

    This is a very good clip from a mother who lost her son to a heroin overdose.

    It doesn't matter how famous you are, or rich, or poor addiction does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone.

    Jeannie couldn't just fold her arms and nod her head to fix her son. Barbara Eden suffered with her son too as we all have when a loved one is addicted. I dream that Jeannie could fix all our children this way.

    Please watch the 90 second video and pay attention to the end. Break the stigma and reach out. Silence is a killer. The only hope is when we ALL grasp hands outreached.

    Grasping an outstretched hand for help is not something only our addicted children must do.