Street Tales: Building a new house or a new life

One of my many hobbies is to build model lighthouses. Some are only about half a meter tall, others range right up to about two meters. I figure this quite an accomplishment, because for most of my life, wood and I were mortal enemies (it hated me); metals were more my thing.

It all started when I semi-retired. Wanting to do something with my hands, I happened on an ad for model lighthouses, so I ordered a set of plans for three of them. Then once I had the angles and roughly the proportional sizes, I struck out on my own. I downloaded pictures of lighthouses from around the world and would build them as close to the picture as possible.

Once I had an idea of what to build, I needed to plan it on paper before construction could start, so I would draw it out and calculate the sizes I would need, and the color it would be. Once the design was locked in my brain, I would be ready to start.

Of course, while planning and working to build each one, and then as well with the work I do at the kitchen, I began to realize the similarities between planning and building a lighthouse and raising and building up a person. The same principle applies to a new child or a person needing recovery.

With a child, for some folks, if it comes; it comes, but for others it is a matter of careful planning. Then there are those who try and try using whatever is medically available to conceive a child, some successful, some not. Once a child is on the way, planning and preparing begins in earnest. It is no small thing to have and raise a child.

It is also not a small thing to be confronted with a drug, alcohol, gambling or even a food addict looking for a break away from that dependency. One particular fellow comes to mind. He was addicted to eating. I was going to say food, but while he hated food, he loved the process of eating. Strange but true. I spoke with him several times about it. At the kitchen, he would eat as much as he could; go to the washroom, then come back and eat some more. That’s when I learned about his penchant for the act of eating. His growing 320 lb girth alone declared this problem.

In conversation with him, I found he had spoken with his social worker about it and he had spent some time with a councillor, but to no avail. At the time I spoke with him, I had been planning another lighthouse, and mentioned to him that if he was to take on a project like recovery, he would have to plan it in detail, suggesting that if followed, he might have a better chance of success.

Over the next few weeks he would let me know how it was working for him; he was just happy to be making some headway. About three months into his planned program, heart complications set in and he passed away.

Even now, two years later, I can see his chubby face with that lopsided grin every time he came into the kitchen, and though while it is sad that he died before he fully realized victory, it brings me great joy just to know that he tried and was starting to see some results. More than once he stated that having made a plan gave him the push he needed to make the attempt.

For most, the idea is to detox and then maybe rehab, all done without a full exit plan in place. Developing a plan furthers the chance for success whether building a (new) life or building a house!

Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with concerns for the downtrodden

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