In the early 90s, my former wife and I visited the home of Barb and Mike Craver in Berea, for a special occasion -- perhaps a birthday or holiday party. My contemporaries and friends, Craver siblings Doug and Cheryl, were in their 20s or early 30s and out in the work world, visiting mom and dad at home for the occasion along with several of their friends, including us. As people mingled and ate -- the primary activities in any Craver home -- Doug and Cheryl's grandmother, whom Doug had dubbed, The Gatekeeper, was there, and when nobody was looking she just kind of lost her balance and fell backward, near the kitchen, her head making a gentle thud sound as it made contact with the carpeted floor.
The noise was loud. Conversation abruptly stopped as our eyes searched to determine the source of the thud, not immediately noticing the person laying horizontally on her back beneath our gaze, her eyes staring calmly at the ceiling. After a moment, she let out a muffled, "Oh," which gave away her location. Several family members rushed to her side to see what had happened, as blood began to soak and then puddle in the carpet around The Gatekeeper's head. It looked serious.
Most impressive in action was Barb. Apparently, she had prepared to deal with this type of traumatic event because she took charge immediately, clearing people from around The Gatekeeper and kneeling next to her, looking down intently to determine what level of trauma may have been at hand and how to deal with it. I had never seen Barb move so quickly or act so decisively. Perhaps she had special emergency medical training, necessary for her work as a drug and alcohol counselor. Like everyone else, I stood in awe, awaiting orders from the self-appointed Commander, perhaps to call 9-1-1, get ice, boil water, tear sheets. Within seconds, Barb had seen enough. Bolting upright, she searched the crowd, settling on the first person in her line of sight. "Joanne!" she said excitedly. "We were just talking about this... do you think that Resolve carpet cleaning spray will work to get this blood out of the carpeting?"
An instant later when she realized how absurd her temporarily misplaced priorities appeared to be, she laughed at herself. The humor among the onlookers was strained at first. No one yet knew whether an ambulance was required. Until that moment, Barb had not given a thought to relaying what she saw: blood aside, the fall hadn't harmed The Gatekeeper, much. Barb assessed that she'd be fine and simply moved on to the next priority, which of course was restoring the carpet to its normal condition. Barb attempted to assuage everyone's concern for The Gatekeeper; she was fine, really. As the message sunk in, the laughter spread, growing louder and longer. Barb often squinted her eyes so tightly as she laughed (and sometimes cried simultaneously) when something really struck her as funny. This was one of those times.
Moments later as The Gatekeeper sat safely in a chair and iced down her bumped head, Barb followed directions from the back side of her newly purchased carpet cleaning product, still excited at the chance to really put it to the test. She removed every ounce of blood, proud of herself and her product. This was Resolve's inaugural use in the Craver household. Probably not its last.
I loved the way Barb Craver could laugh at herself and see the many absurdities that happen simply by living life on life's terms. She wasn't always comfortable in her own skin, she had once told me. But she grew to be so over many years and through much effort and help from her higher power and others. Never taking herself too seriously and being so authentic and generous with herself and her gifts, she was a great example to me and countless others. I'm so glad Doug introduced me to his mom, Barb Craver, 23 years ago. She'll always be a part of who I am.
Barb Craver founded and headed UMACC in 1976, to help others beat their addictions to drugs and alcohol, shortly after she began her own recovery from prescription pills and alcohol. She was one of the first -- if not the first -- intervention specialist in Cleveland, and earned both compliments and scorn from colleagues in the field of recovery for her then-new and unconventional technique of confronting addicted people along with family and friends with rehearsed and scripted straight talk and a plan of action for the person's recovery. She was a frequent guest on local TV shows, appearing as an authority on addiction and recovery. Scores of sober people and thousands of their friends and family give credit to Barb for her successful assistance. She died peacefully in hospice, July 7, surrounded by family.
photo of Barb Craver courtesy of Doug Craver
-- Steve Cadwell, July 8, 2009