|04-26-2012, 01:11 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2008
Day of Birth: 9 / 17 / 32
Robert (Bob) Paul Bergh 9/17/1932 - 10/12/2000
Clean Date 11/1/76 San Francisco native, Retired Seaman and Yellow Cab Driver
Survived by: Daughter Antoinette Molina of Napa, husband Jorge, sons Miguel, Mario Roberto, and David, and their Daughter Annamaria,
Daughter Adrienne Bergh of St Louis Mo. husband Don Torrence and sons Christopher Robert Bergh and Kevin Michael Bergh.,
Daughter Shannon Raintree and her life partner Xarre` of San Francisco, Sister, Ann & her husband Kenneth Hanson, Nephews, Larry P Hanson, Larry K. Hanson, and Ron Hanson and family.
Affiliations: Sailors Union of the Pacific, Narcotics Anonymous.
Hobbies: Bob was an avid traveler and a voracious reader.
In later life he traveled around North America carrying the message of recovery
from drug addiction to Narcotics Anonymous convention audiences and to men in jails and prisons.
Bob's ashes were to be be scattered at sea between San Francisco and Hawaii.
San Francisco, California
He passed away on October 12 @ 7 AM
San Francisco, California
Bob Berg's quote from my book Addict:
"I'd go from heroin addiction to alcoholism,
back to heroin,
and any time you stick a full load of heroin
on top of a belly full of booze,
it's like setting a bomb off."
rosalie r from the bronx - rosie circa nov 28, 1980 nyc bronx and fla , bob b and me
Bob B + Carmelita DC Bid Committee WCNA 14 Chicago 1984 Miracle Happen
From the Book Addict Out of the Dark and into the Light copyright Keeley 1987-2007
DOB: 9/17/32; San Francisco, California
"I'd go from heroin addiction to alcoholism, back to heroin, and any time you stick a full load of Heroin on top of a belly full of booze, it's like setting a bomb off."
I was born in San Francisco in 1932 and I am one of five children. There were three girls and two boys and it was during the Depression that I was born. My father was a merchant seaman and ran the world for God knows how many years. He was born and raised in Sweden and he ran away from home and started going to sea and I guess by the time he came to San Francisco and settled in San Francisco, he met my mother, produced five children and then died of cancer and chronic alcoholism. And my father died when I was seven years old and it seemed like my mother started going with a man right after about a year after my father passed away and they used to leave San Francisco, you know for days, weekends, weeks, and whatever and they used to leave everybody at home.
It seemed like I was always looking for something, I don't really know what I was looking for, but I was searching for something. And it seemed like the only way that I could get any kind of attention, was to do something wrong, was to get into some kind of trouble, and I started doing that when I was quite young. I was made a ward of the Juvenile Court when I was nine years old. I had my first drink when I was five. I went on my first alcoholic binge when I was twelve and it lasted for six months. At the end of six months my mother had to take me to the doctor because I had broken out with this rash around my waist. It was diagnosed later as shingles.
It seems like everybody's got role models and the role models that I used to have were the guys that used to sit in the back booths up at the creamery and they looked like they were really at peace, like they didn't have any problems at all. They'd sit back there scratching and nodding and not doing a hell of a lot of anything, and like they say, they were, they had something that I wanted and I really didn't know what it was. I started taking those pills and smoking those funny . . . when I was really young, nine, ten or thereabouts. My mother knew that I was smoking cigarettes when I was about seven years old, no, about eight years old, and she told me, she said, "You know, Bobby, I know that you're smoking cigarettes out in the back and under the house and I don't want you doing that. If you're gonna smoke cigarettes you smoke them in the house." Yeah, I did that right in the house. I smoked for forty years.
You know, I went into my first institution when I was twelve and it seemed like after that it was a long line of institutions after that there. In and out of the Juvenile, one reform school after another, and it was tough, really tough. Anyway, the day came when a couple of the, guys that I hung out with came to my house and they said, we used to think that if you stuck a needle in your arm you went on a three-day high. Well, these two guys came over to my house one time and they told me, "Today is your day, Bobby. Today we're going to turn you on to a three-day high." And they had some little glycerin capsules of heroin and they proceeded to give me a half of a five-dollar cap.
And it seemed like I never could get enough of anything that I ingested or injected into my body. And they no sooner got done injecting this half of a five dollar cap into me, and I told them that I didn't have enough, that I had to have the other half, and they proceeded to inject me with that other half. And you know, the feeling that I got off of that there was indescribably delicious, you might say, and the feeling was so great that I chased it for the next twenty five years. I chased it all over the world. I became like my father. I became a seaman, you know, a husband, a father, a drunk. I became all those things that people become hooked into with addiction.
And when I started going to sea, when I started, when I went aboard my first ship and set my bag down and I looked around, I seen people that were just like me, and I really hooked in and I knew that this was the place that I wanted to be. I could go on a ship and I could be hooked from heroin and by the time I would get to wherever I was going, I would be a full-blown alcoholic.
And it was tough, and it was very dangerous, because of what I was doing. I'd go from heroin addiction to alcoholism, back to heroin, and any time you stick a full load of heroin on top of a belly full of booze, it's like setting a bomb off. And there were many times when I ended up flat on my face and that was tough.
Anyway, I chased my addiction all over the world. And it was really ironic that you could be a drunk on a ship but you couldn't be an addict. If you were an addict, if you were caught using, possessing or whatever, of any illegal drugs, they would take your seaman's document away from you. And you wouldn't be able to practice your trade. You could still practice your addiction, because they'd set you free. They wouldn't let you go to sea any more.
And I covered up my addiction on a ship with alcohol. The first thing did upon going on a ship was to find out where the drunks were hanging out at, and proceeded to indulge immediately. I chased my addiction all over the world. There wasn't a place in the world that I didn't go that I wasn't able to get what I needed, and I always needed something.
In 1973, in 1974, I got married, and I became what I thought was a responsible person -- because I got married. I became a father. But it didn't work for me, because my addiction had a hold of me and I couldn't be a responsible person, because I didn't know how, because this thing called addiction drove me in another direction, and it was addiction that took my family away from me. And it seemed, like I really didn't care. Because I could then do what I needed to do for myself, for this thing called the addictive part of my personality was able to take, to surface, as full blown, It seemed like I have been in very tight situations. I've been in the jungles of Vietnam. I've been in the jungles of the Philippines. I've been in the ghettoes of Hong Kong, Singapore, and it seemed like I never ever had any problem, because I conducted myself as a responsible person, either a responsible person or a person who respected the rules and regulations.
In 1973 I went on a ship that was going out to India, and it wasn't coming back. I was a full book member of the Sailor's Union of the Pacific and when I got out there I was on a ship that was a sick ship. Everybody from the Captain on down to the lowest worker, the wiper, was either an alcoholic or a drug addict. And it was a pretty sick ship, but it was a good ship. I got out to India and got up to the dope house and bought a kilo of opium. I bought a kilo of opium for 66 dollars and proceeded to maintain.
It seems like after the -- what do you call it? -- the euphoria, you know, the feeling of elation of heroin, it seemed like after those first few months or couple of years or something like that there were over, it seemed like I wasn't really getting loaded to get high, for that feeling of elation, it seemed like all I was doing was taking these drugs to keep from getting sick.
And I found out later it was called "maintaining." So I was a maintenance user, **** near from the beginning. Anyway, I got out to India and proceeded to use and came back to San Francisco with a stomach habit from eating opium and tried to go from being an opium addict back to a heroin addict. And it seemed like nothing that I put into my body. I was using some very strong Heroin -- they called it Mexican Brown or Raw -- I had a lot of money at the time and pumped a lot of that stuff into my body and it didn't work.
And I made my first ten-day methadone detox and went right back out to India a couple of weeks later. And proceeded to do the same thing. This is when that miracle drug -- they thought -- a miracle drug called Valium had came on the scene and all the psychiatrists and all the medical doctors and everybody talked about what a miracle drug this was, and I guess they sold millions of barrels of Valium and they really didn't know what a time bomb that they had on their hands.
And this is when I got into Valium. I used to think that I needed Valium to sleep. And I would take every two weeks I would take anywhere from one hundred fifty to two hundred of those little blue tens. And what I was putting into my body was opium to keep from getting sick, alcohol I drank all day, with my alcoholic friends, to cover up my addiction, I smoked hashish I like to say sometimes to maintain my sense of humor, and any time I'd get ready to go to sleep I'd always take a handful of these Valium, and that was terrible, it was terrible.
Anyway, after I cane back from India the second time -- was thirteen months out there. It really didn't matter what I put into my body. Nothing really got me well. I couldn't get well. All I did was, I put all these chemicals into my body and all it did was make me perspire. I sweated a lot. I was soaring wet all the time. I remember one time I went to get a haircut and the barber refused to cut my hair because -- he told me, he says, "You're sick" -- and I guess I really was.
Anyway, I used to sit up in my room and I used to contem-plate suicide, you know, like hanging myself in the bathroom or going to the store to buy another bottle or diving under the rear wheels of a bus. But I really didn't want to die. I was scared of living and feared of dying, I guess they say, like Old Man River.
And somehow or another I was able to . . . I woke up one morning and pumped that stuff off into my arm and I said, "This is it. This is the last one that I am going to do." And I went over and asked my daughter for help. And I really. DidnŐt know, I never knew that there was such a thing as help available. I thought that addicts died. I thought that addicts spent the rest of their lives in prison or some kind of a nut house.
And I went over to my daughter's house and I asked her what I had to do to get some help. And it seemed like that's what happened. I ended up going into the U.S. Public Health hospital in San Francisco. They had an alcohol program that they also worked with addicts. And it was the first time in my life that I ever walked into a doctor's office and rolled up my sleeves and said -- I showed him the tracks -- I says, "I need help. I drink, I drop pills, I shoot heroin, and I need help."
And they took me into the hospital and they put me on a methadone detox. They brought me up and they brought me down and dropped me off. And one night a man came in on a Tuesday night to a recovery meeting and shared his experience, strength, hope. It seemed like when this man started talking, the lights had dimmed, and it was just he and I there and I was hooking in, I was relating to everything. This man said, after the meetings he gave me some information. He told me about anonymity and he told me about recovery and all the rest of those good things that go with being in a recovery place. And he sent a couple of guys up to see me, a couple of addicts who were heavily involved with recovery, and it was the first time that these guys ever walked in and introduced themselves and it seemed like that this was when it started for me, and I started going to recovery meetings, and they told me that it was a simple program, this support group for addicts. The only thing I had to do was change my whole life.
I proceeded to do that, but I had reservations, I had reservations as to smoking a little bit of weed or going back down on the corner and associating with my old friends. And they told me not to do that. And I didn't and I shot a little more Heroin. And after I had these things set aside, these reservations, after the reservations were pushed aside and I got down to the business of recovery, that my life started to get a little bit better.
I found that I could work and I could be a good worker. I found that if I thought that I was a good worker when I was loaded, I think that the only way that I used to think that, the only way to do a job was I had to be loaded, and I was a good worker. And you know what? I found out that after all those years of being out there at sea that I was a labor faker, I was a labor faker, and I had to go back and re-learn my trade, and it was hard. It was hard to go back there on a ship and be a full book member of the Sailor's Union of the Pacific, an Able Seaman who is supposed to know all this stuff, and to tell somebody that you know what, man? You know what? I don't know how to do that. I could talk a good job but I couldn't do it, and it was a tough one.
But a anyway, I overcame all these things here and I proceeded to get into this thing called recovery, and they told me that you only keep what you have by giving it away. And when I was out there I was an addict with a twenty-four-hour-a day habit. I went to any lengths to get what I needed. I was a thief. I was a liar. I was a cheat.
But basically, over and under all these little things, I was basically still a pretty nice guy. And I knew that there, even while I was using drugs, I used to help people, And when I got clean seemed like this nice guy started to surface and become a little bit more evident.
I started working on my recovery and it's been hard but it's been easy. My life has gotten good. I have found that I am everything that other recovering addicts are. Today I am a responsible, productive member of society. I give a day's work for a day's pay. I sometimes go over and above that. I find that I am not a taker any more, that I am a giver. I've been married. I've been married three times and I have got a lady in my life today that I really care for. I've found that relationships are just like this recovery: you get out of it what you put into it. And I am going to get married sometime around the first of the year, and I am really looking forward to that 'cause I really love this lady.
When I was, back in 1955, my son died through this thing called the Hong Kong flu. In 1955 the Hong Kong flu came through the United States and it killed a lot of people. It killed old people, it killed young people, and it killed my son. And I went back to the priest who married me, who baptized my first son, and when I walked into the parish house I had to wake this man up at dawn, at six thirty, seven o'clock in the morning. And when this guy came in and I told him, I said: "Father, my son died. What am I going to do?" The first words that came out of this man's mouth was: "Was he baptized?" and I said, "No, he was only three months old." And this man looked at me and he says, "Well, what the **** do you want me to do about it?"
And it was like he slapped me in the face. And it was bad, it was really bad. And I told him, I said, "I can't believe what you're telling me." And this man told me, he says: "Well, you didn't care enough about your kid to get him baptized. What the **** are you coming to me for?" And I said, "To bury my son." He looked at me and he says, "There's no way," and he walked out of the room.
And my attitude towards . . . I never really had a spiritual or religious background, but I did believe in some kind of a God and what this man did was, he took all of that away from me by refusing to, being so uncompassionate, you know.
But I found out later that this guy was a -- he was a drunk, he was an alcoholic, and on the day that I got married everybody in the church was either drunk or loaded except my mother and my uncle, even my father-in-law was drunk, my mother-in-law was drunk, my best man was full of heroin. I was full of heroin. The priest was standing there and he was intoxicated. It was a pretty sick wedding.
Starting a new life and, you know, when somebody gets married you think here they are, into a new, journey, a journey into a nice happy new pleasant way of living. But it really wasn't like that. It was pretty sick. But over the years my . . . I had a hatred for this thing called God and I think that this hatred wasn't pointed at God but at this man who was so uncompassionate. And every time I'd walk by a church I'd spit on the sidewalk or I'd say, "**** you," or whatever.
Since I have been, clean, when I started to get clean, and they told me that I had to believe in something, and I said, "No way. You're gonna want me to believe in God. After what he did to me? **** God." As simple as that. And since I've been clean, I've been clean for a while; I've had a number of spiritual awakenings. I tried to work this whole recovery program my way. My way never worked.
One morning, through a series of circumstances, real heavy deep depression, I got down on the side of my bed and I said that I needed help and I think that that's where it began. And today I have a God, my God, I don't know about anybody else's, I've got a God of my own that I believe in, that I get down on the side of my bed and I say, "Thank you," and I say, "Please, please help me," and I say, "I can't, but you can." And since then, since I have kicked in my spiritual program, my whole life has did about a hundred and eighty degrees, and it seems like it's all up. I don't have too many bad days. The bad days that I have I can handle with the help of this Power and these people that have come into my life. It's a nice way to live.
November First I will have twelve years clean and I got it this way. As far as the whole thing goes, addicts do recover, they don't die or go to institutions. They die or go to institutions only if they want to; it's their choice. If an addict wants help, all he has to do is walk into a room and say the magic word, and it's a four-letter word that means help. "I need help. I'm willing." That's all.
Bob was an avid traveler and a voracious reader. In later life he traveled around North America carrying the message of recovery from drug addiction to men in jails and prisons.
Bob's ashes were to be scattered at sea between San Francisco and Hawaii. He passed away on October 12, 2000 at 7:00 AM from Liver Cancer.