South Africa
Part 38

Below are pastes of two emails, Francois's and Phil's. Francois Cc'd his email to Steve to me, and Phil wrote me directly. MrB


I don't know if you'll read this mail cos I understand you're overflowed by mails, and I think I'll send it also to Gary to put some of my ideas in his mails if he wants.

I'll speak to you of dads' things: I'm one, Gary no, and we've surely a different approach and interpretation of what arrived this weekend between you and your dad.

I've yet said to you, I could never have the same relation and discussion with my son as his friends: it proves only the difficulty to be a dad.

Now my son Yan is 25 - a man - we've a good relation: we are father and son, and friends, and I may show him my love. When he was younger - til 23 - I thought all the time what I wanted to say him, and never I arrived to say that, and each time it was reproaches and disputes cos he began to say something aggro which I did not accept. And he wanted always to do something to prove I was an ass.

A little story: when he was 17, I began to be handicapped by a serious disease, and I had to stop my sportive passion: climb [mountaineering].

Then Yan has begun to climb with his friends and one day he had needed to show me what a wreck I was, and he wanted I go with him and his friends to ridicule me and above all my name: I've yet said to you I was a famous climber.

I've found this day the force to ridicule him and his friends definitively. How? I was old and sick but I knew how to break young muscles and how to keep my old muscles: I've chosen very athletic ways I knew very well all holds and all movements and so I could pass them quickly and without too tiredness. After less than one hour they were exhausted and they had to stop. I was as exhausted as them, but I've never showed or said. Yan has never begun again to climb... And I've 3 weeks of pain after that.

Why have I done that? I don't know yet. He was the boy, I was the man? I'd a name, he was breaking what I was the proudest? No I don't think.

I'd so many little things against him: and yes, as your dad, we'd passed numerous nights to wait, we've seen him destructing himself with drugs and alcohols, with motorcycles also, we've seen him as a untouchable wreck after his girlfriend had thrown him away... And never a little confidence with me, never a chat, never a hug...

His fault? No, myself only: I never find the words I'd prepared in my mind. And if Yan has came back towards me, it's only cos his friends were my friends cos I'd with them the relation I'd always had with my ex students: love and friendship.

All this shit to repete you - I know, I'm senile - the biggest difficulty of my life has been to show my son my love for him. I think it's always the biggest difficulty for a father.

We've solved it - too late - cos I was a teacher, cos I've thought during years, cos Yan love me as I love him, cos Yan is a loveable young man...

If Yan had insulted me at 18, I think I'd broken him in pieces, maybe worse your dad has made with you. And I'ld have cried during hours after , without find a solution to speak to him.

When he was 16, he'd a crisis (we don't know today what it is) and don't go to school during 15 days and we had known that by a notification of the school. The evening when we saw him going back "school", we'd a very long argument which finished he gives himself his fists in the wall, even his head against the wall, there was blood everywhere, and the only solution I'd found was to slap him in the face: he was desperate, and we did not know why...And we have passed weeks to be afraid he don't come back home any evening...

And I think I'd been a good dad, and now Yan say me it often. And I'm happy and proud to be his father.

All that is not to excuse your dad. It's to show you how it's difficult to be a dad Your dad has let explode his hatred made of little (and big) things amassed by years: yes he was wrong, but you've pushed him, and he's a man who does not arrive to communicate with you.

If your father has said you he has passed nights to wait you - your mother is certainly for much in that - but that has to say to you, he is your dad, and he loves you, but he doen't know how to help you, and less how to speak to you. They have seen you was in drugs, they have seen you was in pain. They don't know how to begin with you.. Do you think it's easy to begin with: " hey Steve, come here and let us speak of drugs, sex, gay..."

Do you know how to begin with someone you hate? fight or love? Your dad hates the image he has made of you (and you have surely helped him to build that image), he wants to destroy this image, not you. You are his son and his reaction proves he has love for you in his heart - maybe too far to be joined now -

To hate, you have to be two, to fight, you have to be two, to speak you have to be two, to love....

Gary is right, talk first to your mother: they know for your drugs, talk little at little what you've done in begining by the end. And your parents are surely talking between them. And your dad will know...

And I can't finish this mail without saying you, we (Gary, me and the others) are doing all this for you cos we all think you've in you something which is good: you may be great if you want - and you do want -. And I've said "in you" (it's not your bod - I leave that part of the story to Gary), in your heart, in your mind.

You're more near your goal than you've never been. You've done many efforts: we are proud of you. Be proud of yourself: say the goals you've reached: stop drug and deal, have back friendship with Mark and Wingnut and....

And write to Gary, it's the link with us, and the best therapy for you.

Be brave and proud


Well, Steve, there ya go... that's the kind of hate mail you were expecting when I began to write your story hehehe. Francois is a lovely man, and you have something in common with him - you have both climbed mountains. Francois doesn't climb anymore, but he is helping you with your climbing. He is a wise and gentle old Frenchman. But if he tries to talk you into eating escargot or frog's legs, let me know. That would be going waaaay too far!

And now, here's Phil's email,

hello gary or good day if you will (Americans could never get that down right) i have been following with great interest your latest Steve stories and his great struggle. wasn't going to add my 2 cents worth (or its aussie equivalent) but feel as if i have to say something. my words of support are for you first, my friend, and if there is anything that appeals to Steve then he is welcome to whatever there is with my gratitude and support to him. but back to you, i know from experience(s) how tough this can be on both individuals and want you to know that i think you are a kind and sharing person to stay the struggle with Steve, just as brave as he is for fighting the fight. now, i speak with some knowledge (which comes after living so many years i will not even attempt to count them off to you but if Steve thinks 40 is old, then i probably fart dust :-)) and that is not a double chin, lol. i also think you are giving the kind of emotional support that he needs right now, straight from the heart. best kind you know. i also can tell from Steve's replies that he really cares about his friends and himself, even if he can't see that right now. all that comes from an inner strength that was put there a long time ago for him to draw upon in times like this. not only is he drawing upon his inner strength but also that of cody and yourself. and that is why i applaud you because i know that you freely give that strength but it is also emotionally and physically draining for you to do this. well, much more to say but most of it has already been said many ways, many times, by many different loving and caring friends of cody, steve and you. you can take strength in knowing that and pride in fighting the fight with a good friend. love ya, gary. phil

G'day Phil,

Yep, Americans just can't say g'day like an Aussie does. A bunch of NYC firefighters have just been invited to spend a free holiday in Oz in appreciation of their September 11 efforts and subsequent efforts. Many of them haven't had a day off in ages. Anyway, while still in NY they were treated to some Aussie fare [food and wine] and trained how to say g'day. Dismal. Maybe they'll improve when they get here. :) And yep, cents is cool. We went dismal - uh, decimal - in 1966.

As for my being emotionally and physically drained from helping Steve, let me say this: It is a great honor and a privilege to be Steve's friend. Being his friend uplifts me. Being his friend gives me purpose. I can't thank him enough for allowing me to be his friend and mentor. Admittedly, we've been through a few rough patches when I was madly scratching around for answers, but we've come through those with flying colors.

And it isn't just me helping Steve. He's helping me. This is a two-way street. There's nothing heroic or saintly or draining about what I'm doing. Nothing at all. I'm doing it because I want to. I'm doing it because Steve is Cody's friend. And what I would do for Cody I am also glad to do for Steve.

You spoke of drawing strength. I suppose it's ironic that I actually draw strength from Steve. When he tells me about his probs and his downers, I visualize him the way Cody saw him, and I draw strength from that. I see the blonde, tanned, head-turning hunk carving up the waves, and there's no way in the wide world that I'm gonna let go of that image. And I won't rest until Steve's ego is impossibly inflated hehehe. Then I'll have to change tactics and bring him back down to earth. But at least I'll still have a job to do.

When Steve reached out to me, he gave me the greatest of all compliments. The fact that he still reaches out to me just blows me away. It can also be a bit scary cos I'm not trained in anything. That's when people like you, Francois, Spencer, Richie, Brian and others with experience that I don't have come to the rescue, and vindicate my belief in Steve. So I'm not alone. And neither is Steve.

I've said before that Steve's probs have brought out the best in us all. We've all rallied to the cause. Hey, just now Lindsay saw a young woman [an American, by the way] whose car had broken down. He raced across the road, followed by another guy, and they got her moving again. Vroom, vroom, vroom! At least she knew how to clutch start the damn thing. "Thank you very much!" she yelled from some yards down the road, then took off. Splutter, splutter, splutter. I hope the old jalopy gets her to wherever she wants to go.

So there ya go. Lindsay and the other guy didn't do what they did for any reward other than to feel good about helping another person. And that's how we all feel about helping Steve. This is a privilege for all of us. Hmmm. Maybe it's even Cody's doing. I wouldn't be surprised.

And while we're helping Steve, Steve is helping others, even though he may be unaware of that right now. He's helping his dad. He's helping Wingnut. He's helping Steph. He's helping Bruce. He's helping Mark by accepting Mark's offer to help him. Maybe one day Steve will even help Craig hehehe.

So, let me raise my Cody Glass and drink a toast to us all - and that includes Steve, who has done us a huge favor by opening his heart. Hmmm. That's interesting. We're not the only ones who've been allowed a peek inside. Steve has had a peek inside too. :)

Cody once told me that he loved me more than I would ever know. I think we all feel the same way about Steve.

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 Steve Part 39