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February 16, 1989
Clara, wearing a dressing gown that had seen better days, walked up the stairs to Pat’s front door and knocked as hard as her trembling hands would allow. Pat looked through the curtains and pressed her lips together staring for several seconds before deciding Clara was sober enough to be allowed entrance into her home. Opening the door, Pat motioned for Clara to be quiet then pointed toward the sleeping baby inside a very old play pin.
Clara spoke with tears in her eyes and a body that was fighting a losing battle against the shakes that come from alcohol deprivation after years of over indulgence. “Have you seen my Lily? I can’t find my Lily.”
Pat lost some of her anger and felt sympathy for this poor broken woman that had aged far beyond her years. “Your Lily is gone now and I don’t know where she went or if she’ll come back. You can’t afford to break down. You’ve got other responsibilities and I mean to make sure you take care of them.”
“But my Lily…”
“That beautiful baby right there is your granddaughter. Your granddaughter. Do you hear me? She almost died because you were so far into the bottle that you didn’t even know she existed.”
Clara collapsed onto the sofa and stared at her trembling hands. “I didn’t know. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. My Harvey, he’s gone and I can’t do anything with out him. I need Harvey and Lily and…”
Pat managed to comfort Clara while maintaining the stern voice that made it clear she meant business. “Harvey and Lily can’t help you now. It’s up to you to help yourself and that baby girl right there. You have taken your last drink. Do you hear me?”
Clara tried to stand in protest, but Pat pulled her back onto the sofa. Pulling the note she had torn from the blanket the day before and waving it in Clara’s face Pat said, “Read this. It was pinned to that baby’s blanket for over twenty four hours and you never saw it because you were drunk and in your own miserable world.”
Clara tried to focus her sight well enough to read the note but after having no luck Pat snatched it from her and read it aloud as Clara cried.
“I figure you’ve got two choices. You can leave this baby with me while you get help and sober up or I can call child protective services. They’ll take her away and you’ll probably go to jail for child endangerment.”
“Jail? I can’t go to jail.” Clara cried.
“Good. Then I would say you’ve made your choice. There’s a residential clinic that takes low income patients on a sliding scale. It’s over on Flagler Street and I’m going to drive you there now.” Clara tried to protest but one look from Pat shut her up quickly. “You will do whatever they say for as long as they say to do it or so help me God, I will make sure you go to jail myself. Do you understand me?”
Clara sat quietly as tears rolled down her face and Pat gathered her purse, keys and the sleeping baby.
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