Carl’s Second Chance
Carl will tell anyone who will listen that he is living the good life. Carl lives at the Oaks at 1057 Merivale Road, one of the harm reduction facilities that is owned by Shepherds of Good Hope. It is a beautiful refurbished residence with air conditioning, an entertainment room, a fitness room, a large dining area, and gated yard. Every bedroom comes with a double bed, fridge, and private bathroom. Carl has medical staff taking care of his health needs, delicious meals served to him three times a day, his hair cut regularly, access to a foot care specialist, arts and crafts staff and regular excursions out into the country and to interesting sites around Ottawa and the Outaouais.
Carl will also tell you that it wasn’t always like that. Carl was born in London, England – a son to a military man. He moved to the United States when he was just 5 years old and his formative years were filled with many more moves. Finally, Carl wound up in Canada. Despite all of the moving, Carl believes he has had a good childhood.
Carl started to drink fairly early in life. He enjoyed drinking but he knew at the onset that alcohol ruled him and not the other way around. Together, with a strong desire to break the rules and a bit of a chip on his shoulder, he set the pattern that would his undoing for most of his life.
Carl met the love of his life while working in Calgary. She was from Ottawa and after they married they made their home here. She transferred her job with the bank of Nova Scotia to an Ottawa Branch and Carl became a window cleaner.
This was not what Carl aspired to do for the rest of his life. It was steady income but very low paying. Carl knew that there had to be something better for him and he took the decision to study Metal Glazer Mechanics at university. After graduation, Carl landed a very high paying job with a glass firm in Orleans. Things were promising but drinking on the job would not be tolerated and so he was fired.
Carl got another job shortly following and this time, management was more tolerant of his drinking and so it became progressively worse. Then tragedy struck. Carl’s wife passed away, and with it, Carl’s reason for going on. He wound up alone and on the street. That was 20 years ago.
Carl found his way to the Wet Program of Shepherds of Good Hope and that is when Carl says, “The Man upstairs decided to give me a second chance.” The Wet Program stabilized Carl’s addiction but his desire to break rules and fear of change made the stabilization a long arduous task. Shepherds of Good Hope staff were persistent, however, and one day Carl’s light bulb came on. He realized all this while that he was fighting himself.
Now, Carl will tell you that you can’t beat his life. He is accepted by the people around him. He knows dignity and is respected for who he is. Carl is one of the fortunate ones. He found hope and he found himself.
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