I was born in Illinois. My father was a flight instructor and my mother was a housewife. Like most people in the midwest we had a basement. And like so many others it was converted into a room to have guests. We had the wood paneled walls and bar and my parents would have parties entertaining neighbors and friends. This was very much the in thing to do during the 60s.
At the age of eight a party was being thrown and the basement was filled with people, booze and smoke. Everyone smoked and there was no ventilation. So the smoke sat stagnant like a cloud. This bothered no one because back then smoking was everywhere. If you are younger I understand how you could not believe such a crowded room with everyone smoking could exist, but trust me, this was how it was everywhere back then. These basement parties were the norm in the midwest and my parents were not the exception. As a matter of fact, if you had a basement, it was expected that a bar (fully stocked) and all the amenities needed for a get together were furnished. For shame if you could not have a basement that met those needs. During tornado season the basement doubled as a shelter. In 1967 half our block was leveled by a twister. We were spared any damage but some of our neighbors’ home were demolished.
Back to the parties. On one occasion, my brother (age six) and I (age eight) decided to sneak into the basement undetected to watch the grownups party. There were half bottles of beers and drinks sitting everywhere. That is when Jimmy and I decided to pull a bold move and snag a couple of half beers. We wanted to taste what seemed to make our normal family and friends so happy and talkative. Now, there were two reactions a six and eight year old could have had. Sipping the beer and spitting it out, disgusted it was not soda. Or... sipping the beer and liking it. For my brother and me, it was the later. We loved it. Furthermore, we got a buzz quickly and retreated to our bedrooms before we might get caught. Of course we did not leave before snagging two more half bottles of beer.
From that moment on I was an alcoholic. We'd beg our dad for sips of his beer and he would always say... "Okay, but this is the last time." I seriously don't remember a last time. Anyway, that same year we moved to Long Island. My father transferred jobs. I started the third grade. Being "the new kid" I found myself doing outlandish things to be accepted. Up until that time I was an A student and somewhat of a nerd. This soon changed. At least in my mind, and it certainly changed in my grades.
Fast forward a few years. My parents were divorced, I was 12 and my friends and I were bumming change at the mall to buy beer every night. My father was a dead beat dad and full blown alcoholic. My mother was married at 17, had three boys and could hardly control us kids, especially my younger brother and me. We took full advantage of my mother's disadvantages and for this I am sorry to this day for the grief I put her through. She was just trying to get jobs to pay our rent. We moved from a nice development of homes to a one bedroom apartment so we could stay in the same school district. The problem for my brothers and I was the school district was home to some of the most affluent families on Long Island. At 16 kids were getting brand new cars to drive to school and we were wearing year old sneakers. This was a turning point in my life and thought process.
At 16 I was soon doing acid, smoking pot and drinking every night. I was also carrying a lot of anger and was fighting every time a fight confronted me. A lot of the time I would just pick fights. I was good at it from boxing lessons I took and found tremendous satisfaction when I knocked people out cold. I was lucky I didn't kill someone. I was an angry young man and my drinking was escalating. I soon needed more money to quench my drug and alcohol abuse. I got together with four other friends and we started burglarizing homes. We then found out how to disable alarm systems to TV warehouses and became prolific in commercial burglaries. I was still 16 and I moved out on my own and dropped out of school. I had found a way to have more cash than the rich kids and I was able to feed my thirst for alcohol. The drugs I could actually take them or leave them. The alcohol was what completed me on a daily basis.
In July of 1975 everything came crashing down. One of my crime partners turned "rat" and the rest also gave statements. I took a night long beating at the precinct and would not say a word. My partners got probation. I get six years and did two plus years.
During this, I spent a lot of time in the hole. My rage was so complete that I would fight if someone sneezed near me. I was feared in prison and I liked it. I was not rehabilitated upon my release. On the contrary, I thought only the strong survived and my rage became deadly to anyone who crossed paths with me and was not respectful. At the same time I was loyal to my friends and would die for them. I was not living...I was just existing. Not even six months after I was released, my parole was violated because I was a suspect in a warehouse burglary. Being on parole they needed no proof, just suspicion. I was sent away for a year and was released right before my 21st birthday.
Again I ran to my dearest love, alcohol. And this time I had no parole and nothing stopping me from getting away from the cops who were hounding me. One in particular told all of my associates that he was with the Organized Crime Task Force and he was going to do everything in his power to have me locked up for good.
At that time I was dating a girl from California. I was renting a room and my reputation on Long Island was shot. Even if I wanted to go straight no one would hire me. When I fell for the six years I was on the front page of our local paper. Parents forbid their children to associate with me. I was friends with one girl and her mom knew me as another name as she did not want her daughter near me. When she finally found out who I was she became one of my strongest advocates. She has passed away and I miss her dearly.
With a couple thousand in my pocket and no particular plan, I left Long Island for California. The girl I was with just wanted to do coke all day long. Her friends were the same way. I thought coke was a waste of money when alcohol was cheaper and my love for it was so demanding. So I left her and hooked up with a friend from the Island and we rented a weekly motel. We then got jobs at night clubs and the partying was nonstop! And the beauty was... I was able to reinvent myself and shed the Long Island stigma that haunted me for so long. But I was fooling myself. It wasn't the Island. It was the alcohol and unlike Long Island...California sold hard liquor until 2:00 a.m. in the grocery stores. I was in heaven!
After three months in California I met my future wife on a blind date. My best friend and his wife set us up. My friend’s wife told my future wife... "He’s a great guy, but you don't want to get serious with him." Twenty Seven years later (twenty six married) and we are still in love. We have three great children and I consider myself to be one lucky man.
Back to arriving in California. My partner and I decided that we could take down banks. Don't ask... We thought we were untouchable. We did over 30 banks never using a weapon before we were caught. One of our partners was involved in a murder. The idiot also "ratted" me out on the banks. So with him putting me in the jail it was a no brainer when the D.A. offered me 85 years or to tell what I knew about the guy who stupidly ratted me out. He ratted first, so I took the stand and got my sentence reduced to where I did three years in a country club. My wife waited for me and I can proudly say I have not been in trouble ever since. I adjusted job apps and managed over 200 employees for over 15 years and from there was an executive for a flat panel company out of Japan. After that I wrote a screenplay that has been filmed and has been in post-production for quite a while. I just optioned another screenplay due to start production next year. I am also working on a book. And besides my wife, my other best friend has been with me every step of the way...alcohol!
On October 10th, 2011 my entire life, attitude and my way of looking at the world moving forward changed forever.
My dear love alcohol flipped on me. My liver gave out and I was bleeding internally. I had what I thought was diarrhea. What I was doing was bleeding out digested blood. My wife called the ambulance and I was rushed to the hospital. They thought they stabilized me for the first day. Then I projectile vomited pure blood and my blood pressure went to 40 over 40. I was dying; they called a code blue. My wife was there and my eyes were open but they were glazed over. I died on the table for around 45 seconds. That is when I experienced my first of two after death experiences.
While my body was out, my spirit was sent to hell. It was worse than I would have ever imagined. Besides the extreme uncomfortable feeling, I could not take a moment without being bumped into and grunted at. There were dark clay boxes of heat around the size of an old 27 inch TV and they were being moved around. It was crowded and you could not make out the faces. I could not tell if they were white, African, American, or Asian. They were just there. At this point I started screaming to God to please forgive me. The grunting got louder and I asked the Lord to please let me repent if I was to stay here. At the moment a light shined through and I gravitated toward it. I thanked God and begged him for forgiveness and I proclaimed that Jesus was the light and that I believed he was the only true and living God. I felt myself then being pulled toward the light. I knew without question that I had no doubts or worries that there was a Lord and at that moment I was out of hell. I wasn't in heaven and I felt like I was back on earth, yet I had no way of knowing. One thing I knew...I was spared hell!
Now you may be saying..."Oh you were under the influences of the drugs or dreaming this. NO! This all happened when I coded because of what happened the second time I died.
They had used 23 units of blood in less than 24 hours to save my life. They then put a balloon in my stomach to pressure the veins to stop bleeding. During this time what I explained happened. Six hours later my wife was in ICU and I was not listed as critical but I was listed as "grave." As she sat with me she thought I was trying to look at something behind me. She shook me and realized I was not there and she screamed at the top of her lungs. Again I was code blue. But, this time when I died there was a glorious light shining, not bright but almost enveloping my soul. I was slowly moving upward and never felt more at peace in my life. I just kept thanking God and praising him as I was being elevated. This was no dream. If I was to die I was going to the afterlife and the whole experience was one of peace, calm, love, and excitement that I was going to live eternity in such bliss. As I approached the top of my slow rise it wasn't as though the light got brighter. It became more soothing and I never felt so accepted. Then, like a puff I was back to where I was before. I knew I was not in heaven but on earth and my life was given back to me.
For you cynics out there I can care less what you say. To try and counteract my experience with logic only you can fathom, I will not argue. I know for a fact that there is a life that is beautiful and more fulfilling than you could ever hope for. My goal in writing this is just to let you know what happened to me and how my soul was saved by faith and God's forgiveness. Because as I wrote in the start... I was not a poster child for a trip to heaven, yet God forgave me. He will forgive you. Just ask him. Be sincere and he will show you as he showed me.
It only takes your belief. I can only pray that at least one person knows in their heart that my experience was real because then you too will know to believe and know you are also blessed by the Lord.