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Remembering Leroy

Here’s what I said at today’s service for Leroy, a copy of the program, and a link to the video of the service:

Welcome! My name is Matthew, and it was a great joy to have been a friend of Leroy’s.

Let us start with a moment of silence to reflect on the life of Leroy and the many roles he played in each of our lives.

We are all joined here today to remember our beloved Leroy.

Whether you were family, a friend, a coworker, or a fellow traveler on the road of sobriety, Leroy touched each one of us in a profound manner. I see people here from all walks of his life; his family, his friends, coworkers from LSSI and Lawrence House, and his second family, the people from the rooms of AA, and most especially, his sponsorship tree.

I first met Leroy when he was the weekend night case aide at Kenmore. To get along with Leroy as a resident of Kenmore, you needed to know only two facts about Leroy, first, he was NOT interested in your reason for being late back onto the unit, and second, nor could he possibly care less about the perfectly valid reason you, as you saw it, had for breaking a rule. In either case, you got written up. But beneath that gruff, old man façade he put on, beat that proverbial heart of gold.

During the nine months I lived at Kenmore, Leroy and I slipped into a comfortable weekend pattern, around 10 at night or so, I’d slide into the case aide office; after he finished his first set of rounds, did his paperwork, and we’d talk until midnight or so. We’d start off discussing whatever was going on in the world, and since most of my time there was during the NFL season, we’d spend countless hours arguing about those cheating cheaters who always cheat; you know them as the New England Patriots. Leroy, for some reason that escapes me, never saw the humor in that name.

Eventually, the conversation would turn to my program, where I was in the steps, what I was learning from the meetings I was going to, and how my work with my sponsor was going. Leroy was, for the entire time I was at Kenmore, not just a case aide, he was also my sponsee uncle, and he took that role seriously. More than once I found my sponsor fully briefed on a matter before I could bring it.

For each and every one of us that passed through the doors of Kenmore, he wanted nothing more from us to be honest with ourselves, and to work an honest program. Leroy became more than just a case aide at my halfway house, more than just someone in my sponsorship family, he became a trusted friend, an adopted uncle whose counsel, while often hard to swallow, was based in love and faith in the program. When I had my own relapse, Leroy was the first person I called. He told me to get off my ass, call my counselor at Kenmore (I was living in my own apartment by then), get in to see her, and that I was to pick him up at 7:45 pm sharp because he was damn sure that I was getting to a meeting that day.

As hard as it has been for me to come to terms with his passing, I am heartened to see all of you, all of the lives he has touched; the lives he has impacted.

A lyricist once asked, “who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?” And I answer because I knew you, Leroy, I have been changed for good.

Before turning over to Desi to say a few words, I want to take a moment and read Desiderata, a poem that Leroy “re-introduced” me to while living at Kenmore. I’ve found it a great source of comfort since then and seems appropriate for this gathering.

Thank you for your patience, and I now ask Desi to say a few words.

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