Forty Years On
August 5, 1978- another date which will live in infamy. Well, at least for me. That happens to be the last day that I ever consumed even the tiniest drop of alcohol. In 1978 I was a particularly reckless, stubborn and out of control 17 year old, already a black-out drunk with several scary experiences. My last incident involved a typical night of wayward mindless drunken vandalism, capped off by punching my hand through a plate glass window at the elementary school next door to our house. I managed to slice through 5 tendons, veins and arteries, plus major nerves in my wrist and thumb. I staggered home , steadily and quickly bleeding to death. Were it not for the Parma Police responding to the alarm and subsequently following the blood trail to my residence, I would undoubtedly not have survived. Recognizing the severity of my injuries, they didn't even wait for an ambulance, choosing instead to place me in the back seat of their patrol car and then racing to Parma Community General Hospital at top speed. They saved my life.
When I awoke in the hospital with basically no memory of what I had done to find myself there, I came to grips with the fact that I had no control over alcohol whatsoever and it had no place in my future life. I made a promise then and there to quit for good; one promise to myself which I have never broken these past 40 years. Talented medical professionals reassembled my hand and thumb, and I endured a long, painful recovery. Like a typically thoughtless 17 year old, I neglected to ever thank the police officers and medical people who saved me then, and I have always regretted that.
My life was shattered to pieces on that August day in 1978, and I spent many years picking up those pieces. Forty years on I realize that every day since has been a blessing, even the very worst days. I tell this story now for even one person who has faced the conclusion that they must part ways with something that will otherwise destroy them, and somehow they doubt if they have what it takes or wonder if they can find the way. You can and you will. This anniversary and the story behind it proves that. Many who know me are aware of my extreme support for the Parma Police Department, expressed on many occasions in this newspaper. Now you know why that is.
Daniel P. McCarthy
I am the publisher of the Parma Observer. Lifetime resident of Parma for over 50 years.