Anniversary Dates & Honoring Our Loved Ones

Countless folks in the greater Bangor Recovery community are blessed to have a guardian angel watching over them. Her name is Penny and she was a mom and mentor to countless lost souls. Penny was the best of us. She taught us to feel safe, secure, and most of all, loved. She inspired us to take good care of ourselves and others.

The anniversary of her passing will soon be upon us. Remembering is bittersweet. In death, absence does not make the heart grow fonder; it leaves an emptiness that demands to be filled.

The challenge before us was given by her husband Earl upon her passing. As we asked him what we could possibly do for him, he simply said, “Be more like her.” That’s the type of sentiment that sticks with a person and I’ve thought of it frequently through the past year.

If we are to honor her memory then, what better way?

Aspirations and ideas are fine things, but it is the application that matters. If we are to be more like Penny then patience and tolerance are not simply characteristics; they are things we practice in our daily affairs.

If we follow her example, we must seek out those who are lost and lonely and befriend them. We must invest our time and talents in others because we are all connected. Each of us is afforded the honor of becoming a meaningful part of other’s journeys. The only way to keep it is to give it away.

So much of Recovery seems paradoxical and contradicting. How does one accept the unacceptable? How do we forgive the unforgiveable? How do we allow ourselves to be loved when we believe ourselves unlovable? Penny answered these questions for us.

Think less. Pray more. Judge less. Hug more. Keep everything simple and most of all be of service to others. The world is full of folks who are lost and in need of guidance, support, and encouragement. Penny not only understood this, she DID this. Daily.

Penny was not one for analysis. She grasped people, places, and things on a gut level. Between her mother’s intuition and her faith, she simply understood.  Penny knew to be completely present in the moment. She understood that to be present allows a Higher Power to work through us. In living this way she was an angel amongst us.

If you don’t believe in angels then I sincerely hope you meet one soon. There are people in this world who just feel good to be around. There are people who speak volumes with their eyes. There are those who teach and move us. They are angels and we need them more than ever.

Penny put into practice the value of fellowship. She had countless daughters and made herself available to them. She brought good women together and bequeathed them her Princesses. Penny’s legacy is in large part those women who today are paying it forward in and out of the halls of AA.

Penny’s compassion and empathy allowed her to bear witness to the type of pain that seems unending. How then are we to grieve without her?

We will take time alone and amongst those we love to reflect. We will tell stories. We shall laugh and cry. We hold dear her memory while releasing the pain of loss. Ultimately, we choose to honor her by following her powerful example. And still we struggle.

Through prayer and meditation we come to a place of accepting powerlessness once again. Nothing in Recovery is once and for all. We seek to experience, express, and be vessels of God’s Grace as she did.

Folks seem to forget where old timers in AA come from. They were once newcomers. Penny was once as lost as any of us. Her humility was in never forgetting where she came from and where she could return to without working an earnest program. In being of service to others she ensured herself another day of sobriety and the opportunity to be happy, joyous, and free.

The world needs more people who love unabashedly. If we are to truly honor Penny, then we must be amongst those who withhold judgment, demonstrate patience and tolerance, and love those who believe themselves unlovable.

Rest in Peace Penny. You continue to inspire and your legacy is alive and well.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in assisting people in recovery (whether from drugs, alcohol, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.