Marc D. Goldfinger
Spare Change News
This is a time when families come together to celebrate in different ways. It is true that some families have been fragmented by sickness, addiction, mis-understanding and mis-communication. The same can be said for the entire world we live in.
I was born well over 60 years ago on December 8th. This date falls in the middle of what I call the Triad, a grouping of three significant holidays. Actually, there are more than three but let us consider the religious holidays: Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, all as one. So we have Thanksgiving, a dubious American holiday, looked at differently if you are an Indian (Native-American), the religious holiday, and finally, the New Year celebration, which, in itself, is the least of the three.
While I was in prison, on Thanksgiving, when all American families gather together, it was so quiet that you literally could hear the sacred pin drop. Even though most prisons in America provide a turkey meal for the holiday, it is a meal that prisoners like myself eat in isolation from our loved ones.
In our homes, our bellies hang heavy after stuffing ourselves with many diverse goodies; in prison, our hearts hang heavy, the meal a meaningless token provided by the power structure. Thanksgiving is the first of the Big Three and I, because of my old lifestyle, spent many of the Big Three in prisons and detoxification centers.
For me there is an extra kicker thrown into the mix. My birthday falls between Thanksgiving and the religious holiday. I have had many mournful birthdays where the only friend I had was my needle and my spoon. The sickness of addiction that takes and takes, and hurts everyone related to me, those in touch with me and those who have chosen to remove themselves from my life because they can no longer bear to watch me die daily.
The first miracle took place in 1994 when, for the first time, I kicked heroin and stayed abstinent for many years. Then I made some bad decisions because I still did not know how to live and relapsed from February, 1998 until April of 1999. In April of ’99 I placed myself in the hospital, then followed it up with a drug program for 9 months.
The drug program, which I shall not name, was not very good and I knew I needed more help so I applied to a program in Gloucester called Moore’s Way. It was a stricter program with more supports to teach addicts how to live. I was fortunate and was accepted and stayed there for almost two years.
During that time I fell in love, and when I was ready, and when she was ready, I moved in with Mary Esther and we got married. Mary Esther’s mother at first was quite guarded with me but, as she got to know me, she began to love me too. I was healing and was able to return that love.
Mary Esther and I were married on June 22nd, 2002. It was a relatively small wedding, with about 50 friends and a couple of relatives. Marriage. One big step towards normality for a man who was a hopeless heroin addict for over 30 years.
Let me tell you a big short story that took place about one year before the wedding. Mary Esther and I had gone to church on April 7th, 2001 and returned to the house for supper. All of a sudden she began to have tremors and had trouble catching her breath.
I took her to the car and we raced to Mt. Auburn Hospital. Luckily we were there when her vitals crashed due to an abscess in her kidney that broke while she was on the table in the emergency room. They call it Sepsis and most people don’t survive it.
For two days we didn’t know whether she was going to live or die. Her mother, when she got to the hospital, said, “Remember, she was mine first.” I put my arm around her and told her that I was grateful to her; that if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have Mary Esther in my life.
Her name was Mary also so you could say that this is a tale of two Mary’s but that is only part of the story. Life is quick and one never knows when the last day comes. After Mary Esther recovered we decided to get married. We found out that life is shorter than you think. So when you look into someone’s eyes on the holiday, look well, for it may be the last time you are together.
The next major part of the story took place on November 15th, of the year 2007. I had been estranged from both my children because of my lifestyle and I hadn’t seen either of them since 1985. Since then I had been in prison, a fugitive, back in prison. Now my life had changed and I was writing and getting published.
On November 15th of 2007 my daughter Jasmine e-mailed me. She had bought one of my books and had been reading my work on the internet. We engaged in meaningful dialogue. Now, Jasmine and her family, my granddaughter Isabelle and her husband Rob are close family with Mary Esther and me. It was a true gift and it came right around the holiday season.
Yesterday, I was on Facebook and I saw a name, Chika Goldfinger, from Honolulu, Hawaii. I suspected she was my son Isaac’s wife and asked if she would “Friend” me, and sent her a small message.
Chika wrote back and said, “don’t play dumb, you know who I am,” and she “Friended” me, saying “they didn’t want to take the grudge to the grave and welcomed me as friend and family.” That was on December 6th of this year 2011. Being as my birthday is on December 8th, this was the greatest birthday present I had ever been given.
I don’t know what will come next. I have a lot of work to do to make my amends for the damage done but I pray I am up to the task. Mary Esther thinks I am and she’s very happy for me because she knows how much I love Isaac and Jasmine. Not seeing them grow up because of my addiction was the greatest loss of my life.
But things are changing. I thank Spare Change News for giving me my start in writing to make it possible for me to get published all over the world and bring my loved ones back into my life. Sometimes the holidays bring unexpected gifts. Now I pray that I can be myself and welcome my new family into my life.
Life can be wonderful. It all depends on how one approaches it. When I ran from my life, my life ran from me. Now that I welcome my life and say, “YES” to the wonder of it, life gives me gifts and lets me offer what I have to those I love.
I hope all of you out there who follow my tales and my rants and my life in print are able to celebrate life in the manner in which you choose. Thank you family; thank you Spare Change News. It all began on one cold corner where I was standing saying, “Spare Change News, Spare Change News, buy a copy from one of its writers.”
And, again, thank you Chika for making my day. I’m hoping to hear from Isaac soon. Blessings to all of you, all of you. And thank you.
Marc D. Goldfinger is a formerly homeless vendor who is now housed. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Marc also has books on www.smashwords.net that can be downloaded for $2.99.