Alcohol abuse is a big problem in the United States. In my family of ten kids...five boys and five girls, I have one alcoholic sister and two alcoholic brothers! Together, they have done their part to destroy the entire family! One of the most frightening nights of my life, was when Ricky came home to stay with my parents, and threatened to kill the entire family. His attitude and behavior were not tolerated, and he said hello to a jail cell!
I had not seen Ricky in several years, and I knew he was having trouble with alcohol for many years. I had been told by my mother that Ricky was living in the street of Denver, as his life had turned for the worse. He came home one day (Albuquerque, N.M.), to get help, and we, as a family were ready to give him the help he needed.
It was my birthday (1989), and me and my wife had gone out for dinner, and we had just returned home from dinner, when the telephone rang and it was my mother. She was hysterical and crying, as she told me Ricky had come in from Denver and he and my father had had a fight! She told me Ricky had threatened to kill the family, and she didn't know what to do! She was crying and out of control. I told her I would be over as soon as possible.
It was about a 20 minute drive across the river to my parent's house, and I couldn't get there fast enough! I went in the front door, and everything seemed to be quiet, and Ricky was at the stove cooking something. As I approached him from the side, I looked at him, and this was a person I did not recognize. This person looked like a hippie out of the 60's, with long dirty hair, beard and moustache, and as I looked closer, it was Ricky all right! Could this person really be my brother?
I quickly went over to my mother and asked her if Ricky had a gun and she didn't know. My brother Jimmy had gotten there ahead of my and my brother Rusty lived there with my parents. I asked them what they knew about the incident,. I was glad to see a little help was there just in case I needed it for whatever reason. My mother said that Ricky had calmed down since the altercation with my father. All of us, except Ricky, gathered in the den to discuss the situation and what we could do.
The look and strain on my mother's face was evident. She had worry and fright written all over her face! The situation we found ourselves in was difficult and delicate, as we were dealing with a son of my parents; and a brother to Jimmy, Rusty and I, so we had to be careful how we handled the situation. If it were somebody else, we could have just jumped him and taken our chances!
It was February, and was already dark outside early in the evening, and Ricky had just finished preparing what he was cooking, and he went into the darkened living room. He did not turn on the lights, and he remained there for the rest of the night in the dark. The living room was on the other side of the small dining room, and as we found out later, he could hear everything we were saying and what we were planning to do. A little light was shining through the living room window, and in silhouette, I could see him moving around and I had no idea what he was doing. All of us feared that he had a gun, so we had to be extremely careful.
Alcoholism and "Tough Love!"
"Are all of you talking about me behind my back? Do you all want to die tonight?"
As Ricky broke the silence, those were Ricky's chilling words that came out of the darkened living room and he scared the heck out of all of us in the den! We had to deal with a voice coming out of the darkness in the living room! We couldn't talk to each other in the den because he could hear us, which made matters worse! All of us remained quiet, as we tried to figure out what to do. Then we began to whisper, and that didn't work either, as we quickly heard fom Ricky...
"Why are you all whispering? Don't you think I can hear you? What are you planning?"
You talk about being stuck in the mud! We were all hand-cuffed...we couldn't do or say anything! I took out a small piece of paper from my wallet and I had a pen and I wrote a note to be passed around to my brothers and my parents:
"We have to be patient and wait until Ricky falls asleep! He has to sleep all of this off!"
Everyone agreed with the note, but when would Ricky fall asleep? It was going to be a very long night, unless something happened...and, we didn;t want anything to happen. Nine o' clock came and went...ten o'clock came and went...we were getting tired, but we could still hear a little shuffling in the living room, so Ricky was still awake! We had to remain patient.
Finally, a little after eleven at night, we felt that Ricky had fallen asleep and we were pleased with our decision to remain calm, and not to get Ricky fired up! Jimmy and I went out the back door, as not to awake Ricky who was asleep in the living room, and my parents quietly went to bed.
The next morning, I called my mother, to see if everything was okay and she said yes. She told me Ricky was already up and was quiet, and I told her I would be over in a few minutes. There was something I had to tell Ricky, and I had to tell it to his face! A few minutes later, I arrived at my parents house, and went straight to Ricky's room and opened the door. I told Ricky, IF YOU EVER HAVE ANOTHER TANTRUM AND THREATEN THE FAMILY AGAIN...YOU'RE GOING TO JAIL...YOU HEAR ME? And, I closed the door and went home!
Ricky's biggest problems, along with being an alcoholic was his bad attitude! Obnoxious and belligerent was also his problem, along with having a chip on his shoulder. He probably got all this from living in the streets!
Everything at my parent's house was quiet for about three weeks, and then it happened again! My mother called me again and she was crying and hysterical and Ricky was out of control again! I promised Ricky that if there was another incident he would be going to jail. Now, it was time to put up or shut up! Before my mother hung up, I talked to Rusty to see if he would help me with Ricky and he said yes. I explained to Rusty what we would be doing, as he waited for me to cross town.
I got to my parents house about 15 minutes later, and Rusty answered the door and told me Ricky was in his bedroom That was perfect, as Rusty helped me move a large lounge chair in the den to block the back door, so Ricky couldn't get out. I told Rusty to stand at the front door, and I would go to the bedroom and get Ricky! I knocked on the door, and as soon as he opened it, it seemed like he knew what was going on, and he shot passed me like a rocket!
He saw Rusty standing at the front door, so he made a quick left to try to go out the back door. We took off after him, and caught him in the den, and this is when the rumble began! Rusty and I were trying to get him into the living room, and, as my mother watched her three sons go at it! A lamp was knocked over, along with the coffee table...my mother was hysterical and shouting at me! "Why are you doing this, Jerry...why are you doing this?" I screamed back at her, and told her to call 911...Ricky was going to jail, whether she liked it or not!
Ricky was harder to handle than I thought, and I screamed at Rusty to het him on the carpet. Down we all went...and, Rusty and I pounced on Ricky and held him down! All of us were exhausted from the scuffle and sweat was pouring down my face. It took about five minutes for the police to arrive, but it was the longest five minutes, which seemed like five hours! Ricky didn't have much steam left, as we held him down for the police. My mother was livid and looking at me with hate in her eyes!
About five minutes later, the door bell rang, and it was the police! They came in the living room and saw we were holding Ricky down, and they quickly put the hand-cuffs on him! I thought my mother would go into the kitchen and start throwing rolling pins and whatever at all of us! I had never seen my mother that mad...and all that hate was coming my way! The police took Ricky outside and we followed, as the police put him in a squad car. And, for the first time, as soon as the police put Ricky in the car, tears came streaming down my face! It was the worst feeling I had ever had in my life! I felt empty inside and I hoped I had done the right thing. I told my mother that I would pick Ricky up the next day at the jailhouse, and I wanted her to go in and get some sleep.
After not getting much sleep the night before, I picked Ricky up at the jail the next day. I was nervous as to what he might do. I knew that he did not have a gun, so that was a relief! As soon as Ricky got in the car, I could see right away a change...for the better! We knocked that chip off his shoulder and he knew we meant business! His attitude would change, or at least I hoped so. On the way home, we said nothing to each other. When we arrived at my parents house, I stopped the car and said to him, "If anything like this ever happens again, you're going back to jail...do you hear me?" Ricky got out of the car and went inside!
Ricky stayed at my parents for over a year, and he got the help he needed, and there was never a threatening incident or any other incident out of him. After he got back from jail, he had been given a haircut; cut his beard and moustache; cleaned himn up and bought him some new clothes. He was now starting to look like the Ricky of old...tall, dark and handsome...just like his older brother! (ME) Ricky continued to do better all year long, and he got a job, as he tried to get his life in order.
A couple of months later, I was having coffee at my mother's house, and we were reflecting back on the jail incident. I told my mother that when I picked up Ricky at the jail, he had a look on his face, as if to say, "I can't believe it...my own flesh and blood, put me in the slammer!"
Believe it Ricky...believe it...I think it's called, 'tough love!"
"I have no regrets in my life. I think that everything happens to you for a reason. The hard times you go through builds character, making you a much stronger person." Rita Moreno
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Copyright; Jerry Aragon; 2007
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