Michael Anthony Webb
April 29, 1955 – August 13, 2013
We first met Michael years ago when we lived at 20 Lisle Avenue in Binghamton, NY. My daughter, Heidi was sitting on the front steps and a young man left the little group he was standing with, came over and greeted her, “Why are you people living in this house always so happy?”
“Well, maybe it’s because we know Jesus,” Heidi said.
Michael hadn’t expected such an answer. He paused, then with hands on his hips he asked, “Well, I’m an alcoholic. What are you going to say about that?”
Not easily fazed Heidi replied, “I don’t know anything about alcoholism but I can tell you about Jesus and he can help you.” Then she added, “My Mom’s in the house, would you like to meet her?”
It didn’t take him a second to accept that invitation as the aroma from supper preparations smelled pretty good.
Michael came in and stayed for supper. So began our special friendship. It wasn’t long before he started calling me Mom. When I learned that Michael’s birthday was April 29th it took my breath away. My husband was murdered while sitting at the translation desk on April 29th.
It seemed to me then that this was God’s crazy math, subtracting one but adding another.
Our relationship with Michael included long talks and walks, taking Michael to rehab., buying him a Bible, getting him connected to Crosspoint Church, talking and loving and always praying and encouraging. Heidi called him “my li’l bro” even though he was taller and older. I just called him, “my son.”
One summer we took Michael with us on our family vacation to Willow Valley, PA. He loved every minute of it and talked about it for years. He never forgot how my grandson, Isaiah, loved swimming and said, “I was made for this.”
Sometimes we felt that Michael was cured of alcoholism, that Jesus and he had won the victory. I read statistics that if a person is free of alcohol for 2 years there is only a 15% chance that they would ever go back to it. He told us how much better he felt without the toxic alcohol in his body. He was confident that after not turning to the bottle for two years he was free of that addiction. One of the problems was his former drinking buddies looked him up. Michael was such a fun person to be around. He had nicknames for all of his friends and family. His drinking companions would come around and say, “Wow, Michael, you’re really doing great. Good for you. Come have a little drink with me for old times’ sake. Awww, one drink isn’t going to hurt…”
I am not happy with people who wooed him back into drinking. No mother is happy if someone influences her child toward evil. I longed to crawl inside of Michael and help him make the right decision but I couldn’t be with him every minute. This was his battle and he did fight it. Every time he fell back into the habit, he took himself to rehab.
One night, after dark, he came to our door. He was very drunk. I pulled him inside because the police patrolled our streets and would probably think he was breaking and entering our house. Michael flopped down on the couch. By this time we had done research and knew some of the dangerous
physical results of continuing to drink. Heidi and I covered him with a blanket and wiped his face with cold water. He was out. The two of us sat up all night with the telephone between us. We were worried that he would start having tremors or go unconscious and we would need to call 911. He made it through the night. When he woke in the morning he was surprised to see us sitting there with our housecoats on and blankets draped over us. “What’s going on?” he asked.
We told him how he had come to the door the night before. That he had fallen asleep on the couch. That we were concerned he might pass out in the night. He couldn’t believe that we had stayed up all night. “Why didn’t you just kick me out on the street when I came last night?”
I took Michael in my arms and said, “Because I love you. I have never loved you more than I love you right now.” I blubbered on, “It hurts me to see you like this. God has much higher purposes for you, Michael.”
Heidi hugged him and after breakfast he said, “I gotta go now.”
Years later Michael told me that as he walked away from our house that day he said to himself, “If Mom loves me that much…I Heidi loves me that much…I God loves me as much as they say he does, maybe, just maybe I can make it.”