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Kept the Faith
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., November 1954
D., AA Number Three, died in Akron Friday night, September
17, 1954. That is, people say he died, but he really didn't.
His spirit and works are today alive and in the hearts of
uncounted AA's, and who can doubt that Bill already dwells
in one of those many mansions in the great beyond.
years ago last summer, Dr. Bob and I saw him for the first
time. Bill lay on his hospital bed and looked at us in wonder.
days before this, Dr. Bob had said to me, "If you and
I are going to stay sober, we had better get busy."
Straightaway, Bob called Akron's City Hospital and asked
for the nurse on the receiving ward. He explained that he
and a man from New York had a cure for alcoholism. Did she
have an alcoholic customer on whom it could be tried? Knowing
Bob of old, she jokingly replied, "Well, Doctor, I
suppose you've already tried it yourself?"
she did have a customer -- a dandy. He just arrived in DTs.
Had blacked the eyes of two nurses, and now they had him
strapped down tight. Would this one do! After prescribing
medicines, Dr. Bob ordered, "Put him in a private room.
We'll be down as soon as he clears up."
found we had a tough customer in Bill. According to the
nurse, he had been a well-known attorney in Akron and a
city councilman. But he had landed in the Akron City Hospital
four times in the last six months. Following each release,
he got drunk even before he could get home.
here we were, talking to Bill, the first "man on the
bed." We told him about our drinking. We hammered it
into him that alcoholism was an obession of the mind, coupled
to an allergy of the body. The obsession, we explained,
condemned the alcoholic to drink against his will and the
the allergy, if he went on drinking, could positively guarantee
his insanity or death. How to unhook that fatal compulsion,
how to restore the alcoholic to sanity, was, of course,
this bad news, Bill's swollen eyes opened wide. Then we
took the hopeful tack, we told what we had done: how we
got honest with ourselves as never before, how we had talked
our problems out with each other in confidence, how we tried
to make amends for harm done others, how we had then been
miraculously released from the desire to drink as soon as
we had humbly asked God, as we understood him, for guidance
didn't seem too impressed. Looking sadder than ever, he
wearily ventured, "Well, this is wonderful for you
fellows, but can't be for me. My case is so terrible that
I'm scared to go out of this hospital at all. You don't
have to sell me religion, either. I was at one time a deacon
in the church and I still believe in God. But I guess he
doesn't believe much in me."
Dr. Bob said, "Well, Bill, maybe you'll feel better
tomorrow. Wouldn't you like to see us again?"
I would," replied Bill, "Maybe it won't do any
good. But I'd like to see you both, anyhow. You certainly
know what you are talking about."
in next day, we found Bill with his wife, Henrietta. Eagerly
he pointed to us saying, "These are the fellows I told
you about, they are the ones who understand."
then related how he had lain awake nearly all night. Down
in the pit of depression, new hope had somehow been born.
The thought flashed through his mind, "If they can
do it, I can do it." Over and over he said to himself.
Finally, out of this hope, there burst conviction. Now he
was sure. Then came a great joy. At length peace stole over
him and he slept.
our visit was over, Bill suddenly turned to his wife and
said, "Go fetch my clothes, dear. We're going to get
up and get out of here." Bill D. walked out of that
hospital a free man, never to drink again. AA's Number One
Group dates from that very day.
force of the great example that Bill set in our pioneering
time will last as long as AA itself.
kept the faith -- what more could we say?
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., November 1954
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