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My Friend, Fritz.

It didn't matter if you called him "Frank", "Papa", "Dad". "Grandpa", "Great-Grandpa", "The guy with the AA jewelry", or "Fritz", he was one of the best friends Bill W. and I ever had.

I remember the night I met him. Cindy T. said: "I want you to meet my friend. He'll love you." (Cindy - - did I ever thank you for sharing him with me? If I didn't, I want to now, "Thank-You. I will be forever grateful.") He was the speaker at the Friday night meeting at "The Club". "Hi everybody, My name is Fritz and I'm an alcoholic." I was to hear those words many times in the next four years. I only got to talk to him for a minute that night because he was leaving the next day for the Indiana State Convention with his friend Steve. When he came back, the very next time I saw him, I walked up to him, told him who I was and that (as they say) was the beginning of "a beautiful friendship".

I was about six months sober and I would call him every night and every weekend we would talk on the phone until 3, 4, or 5 o'clock in the morning. I lived for those calls !! We talked program, program, program. He gave me AA 101 - the simplified version for a very confused newcomer.

One day, Jill, Coco, and I, went with him to Florence where the scheduled speaker didn't show up, and he stepped right in. "Hi everybody, My name is Fritz, and I'm an alcoholic." That's where it happened for me -- as I listened to him talk, it was like I could see the words coming out of his mouth. Talk about rocketed into the 4th dimension !! My spiritual experience !! I got it !! I finally "Got" it !!

And I have my friend Fritz to thank for that.

He taught me that I could start my day over at any time -- it took almost three years for me to get it -- but now I can start my day over very easily. He taught me that I was worth it, and that I was lovable. He loved me fat, thin, happy, sad, right or wrong, everyday of the four years I've known him. Once he gave me some cuttings of a plant he started for me and told me, "It's called Purple Passion, because you'll always be my passion." And I was. Unconditionally.

Boy, could he make me mad !! Especially when he was being stubborn and pig-headed, when I was being stubborn and pig-headed. He taught me to use the 10th step the first time he called me and told me he didn't like hearing what I had to say, but I was right. I was to call him and say those exact words so many times.

He gave me the 2nd necklace he ever made and many after that. He was there for me no matter what and I believed that he would always be there for me (talk about selfish and self centered !). He was there for my daughter too -- "How's it goin baby girl?" And he listened to a teenager pour her heart out. He was there for me in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago when an extremely persistent drunk wouldn't quit calling the CSO.

He held my hand or hugged me when I cried. Good and bad times. He was always there for me and I love him very much

I wish all of you could have known him like I did. From his childhood just outside of Penrose (Colorado) in Stone City, his mother and father, three wives, his last painful divorce, his three daughters (whom he adored) and a multitude of friends that he cared about. He took me into his life and his heart and I felt safe and loved from that moment on.

He was so happy when he got to be part of his daughter's and grandchildren's lives again. First Tracy with lots of phone calls. Then Deb, moving back to Colorado so grandfather and grandson could get to know each other. And Misty, coming for Christmas a year ago. His last trip to Phoenix to meet his two great-granddaughters -- he was so happy. His "Girls", grandchildren and great-grandchildren meant the world to him and he was so happy that he was able to start making his amends to them in person. And he shared it all with me.

Last week I had the feeling that I should call him, but time kept slipping away from me and then the phone call came Saturday morning. He was gone. First I felt guilty for not making that phone call, then I was angry because I felt he had left me when I thought he never would, and then a feeling of lonliness. It all lasted two minutes -- I realized that just as we had had that connection in life -- he was always with me, no matter how far away I was or he was -- we still had that connection. He was my angel in life. Guiding me to a better life through AA, the Steps and his unconditional love. And now he's one more angel in Heaven who is on my side and will always be with me no matter where I am. Always cheering for me. Always guiding me -- still holding my hand -- still hugging me, when I cry. Planning the International Convention in the sky where I'll hear him say, "Hi everybody, My name is Fritz and I'm an alcoholic."

Thank you Papa, for sharing your life with me, both in and out of the program. For sharing your family with me and making your daughters a part of my life. Thank you for giving me the dad I never had, a man I will always love and a legacy of sober living that I hope I can pass on in a way that would make you proud.

And last, I promise you, that if I have to, I'll call your daughters everyday (or they can call me collect) whenever they doubt that you believed, that becoming a father again (in your 60's) was the greatest gift that you received in sobriety.

I love you, Papa Fritz and always will. No one will ever take your place in my heart. As long as I am alive your message will be carried. Thanks for everything. I miss you already. I love you.


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