3.10.2009

Thinking about Artie

Today is Artie's 19th birthday. I cannot believe he is 19 - it truly seems like yesterday that he was a little 5-year-old with the world open to him. I honestly thought Jimmy and I would have made a difference in his life, and if someone would've told me 14 years ago that he would grow up to become an addict I would not have believed them. Actually, people did say that - just not in so many words. I'm sad that more people didn't believe in him. I'm angry that he had to go through life with a mother like his, that society threw him away, that the school system didn't help him more, that his family treated us as the enemy, that all the love we gave him didn't save him. I'm sad and angry that his story really isn't all that unusual.

I'm reposting this in case anyone is new to the blog, or doesn't remember Artie's story.

This post is from September 27, 2007

My friend Kate and I saw Lucinda Williams at the Keswick Theater last night. She was great, and the Keswick is one of the best places to see a concert. It's a small, intimate theater - we were sitting in the 3rd row from the stage.

If you don't know Lucinda, you must listen to some of her songs. She's an incredible song writer. One of her new songs, "Are You Alright", is one of my favorites - it reminds me of a little boy who holds a special place in my heart.

To make a {very, very} long story short, his mother was a childhood friend of mine. She was a drug addict and had three children that she wasn't taking care of. I would take care of her middle child, Artie {starting at 4 months old}, at first to give her a break, but then eventually it turned into her expecting me to watch him every weekend. And I did - she wasn't taking care of him and by that time I felt like I couldn't just walk away. Not only would he stay with me on weekends, but I also volunteered at his schools {he had many - they moved around a lot} and sent him to camp a few summers.

{Artie and Malayna, 2004}

In 2000, his mother fell further into her addiction and Jimmy and I got custody of all three of her children {they were 9, 10 and 12 years old}. Two of them lived with us for 2 1/2 years and Artie stayed for five years, until 2005. Those five years were absolutely chaotic, but we really felt like we were doing the "right thing". There was a lot of rebellion from the kids - some of it normal teenage stuff, but most of it a result of the situation we were all in.

In 2005, our relationship with Artie was suffering. He had been getting into trouble in school and with the police. His family was conveniently absent for much of those five years, except to tell him that Jimmy and I weren't his family and that he should be with them. I still don't understand their reasoning. They didn't step up when the kids needed them, yet they didn't hesitate to put us down and poison our relationship with all three kids.

There were threats from his family about taking us to court for custody of Artie if we didn't let him go live with them. Since Artie wanted to go and we honestly felt like we didn't have a leg to stand on in court against his relatives, he went to live with an aunt. We lost touch for a while, which was sad since I had been in his life since he was a baby. {By the way, he didn't even stay with the aunt for a whole year before she kicked him out.}

I only talk to him once in a while, and I suspect he only calls when things are good for him. He's had a hard life already, including at least one stay in a rehab. He now lives with his grandparents, and when I leave a message for him I wonder if he gets it.

I can only hope that the love we showed him all those years means something.

Are You Alright

Are you alright?
All the sudden you went away.
Are you alright?
I hope you come back around someday.
Are you alright?
I haven't seen you in a real long time.
Are you alright?
Could you give me some kind of sign.
Are you alright?
I looked around me and you were gone.
Are you alright?
I feel like there must be something wrong.
Are you alright?
'Cause it seems like you disappeared.
Are you alright?
'Cause I been feeling a little scared.
Are you alright?

Chorus:
Are you sleeping through the night?
Do you have someone to hold you tight?
Do you have someone to hang out with?
Do you have someone to hug and kiss you,
Hug and kiss you,
Hug and kiss you?
Are you alright?

Are you alright?
Is there something been bothering you?
Are you alright?
I wish you'd give me a little clue.
Are you alright?
Is there something you wanna say?
Are you alright?
Just tell me that you're okay.
Are you alright?
'Cause you took off without a word.
Are you alright?
You flew away like a little bird.
Are you alright?
Is there anything I can do?
Are you alright?
'Cause I need to hear from you.
Are you alright?

Chorus

Are you alright?
Are you alright?
Hey...

5 comments:

daisy janie : scoutie girl said...

Hey Lis--
I'm sorry your heart is heavy today. Just keep that twinge of hope going for Artie - the power of your own positive thoughts keeps you going...sometimes that's all you have.

You did what you could in the time you could - and that's never a bad thing!

Anonymous said...

I thought today was his birthday. Keep your chin up, you never know what may happen. You may have planted a seed for him. It could take a while for him to break out of the cycle. ( I know another kid who came from a messed up family and got sober when he was 22 ;) I still pray for him all the time. You and Jimmy tried your best- it was better to light a candle then curse the dark. L

lisa {milkshake} said...

Thanks, Jan.
Good point, L. Didn't even realize he was 22! There's still hope.

Anonymous said...

We need more people in the world like your family that would take the time to try and positively influence childrens lives.

Anonymous said...

We need more people in the world like your family that would take the time to try and positively influence childrens lives.