By Sean Riley
So… how do you say thank you to a man who worked 40 plus years in a factory and provided me with every opportunity he never had in life and then I crushed his heart and became a drug addict and ultimately indicted by the Federal Government for “Doctor Shopping”… Well let me start here.
I want to introduce to everyone my father, Tim Riley. I think the thing I respect most about him is he’s my “father” not my friend. I’ll tell you later why this was so important in saving my life. He’s the kind of man that has always been there to help others. Whenever anything went wrong in our entire family my dad was always there to make it all work out. Is he a pushover… hell no, never was, never will be. He’s a man of character, faith, ethics and family values.
He’s the kind of father who was at every sporting event I ever participated in. I remember one time I was traveling the country playing baseball and he took a month off of work. His employer advised him that his job was in jeopardy if he didn’t come back soon. He told them that his son was playing in the Pony League World Series and that they may have to fire him but he was going to watch his son play. Wow!!! Didn’t think too much of it at the time being a kid but reflecting back on it… Wow!!!
When my cousin or someone else got into trouble they always came and lived with Uncle Tim. He’s all about family and is extremely protective of it. He instilled all of these values in me and I followed them, making him proud and accomplishing all of the goals I set for myself in life. He was there each step of the way. Sometimes he told me what I didn’t want to hear but it made me better. Enter… alcohol and narcotic pain medication.
As I look back it amazes me that the man I admire most I let slip away and let addiction define my new family values and it didn’t include him. How much more of an ungrateful son-of-a-bitch could I have become? I was full blown in my addiction, anytime my father would mention something to me, I would lie to him, deflect away from me and try to justify my actions. He wasn’t buying any of it but he was also very unaware of what addiction was. Unfortunately I educated him the hard way.
On the lowest point in my life I was indicted by the Federal Government on March 17th, 2005 (my first day of sobriety) I was so cocky I thought I would beat the federal case. I didn’t lose cases as a cop so why would I be beat now? After I left court that day to go to treatment I went to tell him what had happened, I was going to lie… I walked in that room ready to give him every excuse in the world and tell him how the entire justice system was wrong and how I was right. When I walked in the room, I saw for the first time that I had crushed my father, no words needed to be spoken. His body language was like nothing I have ever seen before. At that point I started to get just a glimpse of the damage I caused to him. He then told me two things that saved my life.
“At what point in your life do you accept personal responsibility for your actions and take your lumps like a man”
“You need to do the right thing even though it’s going to hurt you and this family very, very badly”
Right then and there… He was my father, not my friend. I didn’t need a friend there I needed my father and he stepped up to the plate. It was the most painful moment of my life… he was right and that one interaction has taken me to 13 years of sobriety. Yes, there were many steps in between (treatment, counseling, probation, starting over, etc…) but he laid the foundation and that’s what dads do.
Today I have an incredible relationship with him. I really get to enjoy everything about him. His strength, support, advice and his quirks. Oh those quirks are what make us both smile. When it comes to life and death, my dad is spot on money. The rest of life, he gets by like the rest of us. Each day I become more and more like my father and if I become half the man he is I’m going to be okay.
I don’t have to do anything anymore, I get to do things now and those little moments that are insignificant to others are incredible to my relationship with my father. I love mowing his lawn for him and getting the stripes just right. He’s standing at one end of the yard supervising me (I am 55 years old) and as I finish a straight line I hear “Way to go bub”. 55 years old and I still get that guidance from my father… I love it!!!
Here’s to a great man, I really enjoy spending time with you and laughing about all the stupid stuff you and I do in everyday life. Thanks for being the father you are and sticking in there to save my life. I’ll be over to mow the lawn. Love ya Pop!!!
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