Looking back through the logs that mention his name, his track record at the shelter is spotty. Not very 'harmonious'. Fights. Disrespectful behaviour. Alcohol on property. A list of transgressions that earned him numerous bars and removal from premises.
As he told a Global TV Reporter yesterday, "I earned a lot of life bars because I was bad." He didn't care about himself or anyone. All he really wanted was to booze it up and do drugs.
And then the logs stop -- at least the ones about bad behaviour.
The new one's begin several months later. After he came back to the shelter. After he was in hospital. After the surgery that changed his life.
The new logs are different. "This vulnerable client." "Concerned for his whereabouts." "C.G. has an appointment with the Nurse today."
The logs are different, as is his life. And his body.
Every thing changed last winter. Everything shifted.
C.G. went off on a bender. He wanted to get high. He did some crack. Drank a 26er and fell asleep on a bench on a frigid cold night. A day later, a medical team was fighting for his life. Fighting to save him. Eventually they would win but they wouldn't be able to save his hands. And a chunk of his leg.
And everything shifted.
Because in passing out in that snow bank, C.G. lost all hope of living life in 'normal'. In his 40s, he's mostly worked labour. And with the loss of his hands, he'll never hold a shovel, drive a backhoe, or lay cement again. Without his hands, he'll never be able to easily lift a cigarette butt to his lips. Or hold a crack pipe or any other kind of implement or bottle or cup with ease.
Some of that loss is good. He's done with crack. Done with fighting and scrapping to get by. He's done with being the bad-azz, the guy everybody avoids.
He's into being present. Living his life clean and sober.
Charming. Funny. Warm and inviting, he's into spreading joy. He's into making his life, and the world around him, a better place.
Yesterday, I chatted with C.G. as he got ready to have his Christmas Wish come true. He talked about his excitement, his belief that this would be a brand new day, a brand new start to his life. And, he talked about what took him down so hard, what pushed him over the edge into sobriety -- and why he wants to make sure others hear his story.
"I was a real bad guy," he said. "And now, I've got a second chance. If something like this [his wishlist request coming true] can happen to me, imagine what else can happen now?"
On the best day of his life ever, as he described it, C.G. is ready to take on the world.
All because of a Christmas Wish come true.
A simple wish from a man who is living simply.
C.G.s wishlist request? A passionate Calgary Flames supporter, he asked for a Flames Jersey.
Yesterday, thanks to Jill Croteau, Global TV Reporter, C.G. got more than he ever imagined. More than he thought possible.
He got a chance to watch the Flames practice.
He got to go in the Flames dressing room and meet the players.
He got to meet his hero Kiprusoff.
And, he got a Jersey. Signed by all the players.
It was a Christmas wish come true.
An opportunity to experience life in a whole new way, a way he never imagined.
"I can't drink no more," he later said. "To do that would be to disrespect everything everyone has done for me. I can't do that."
For C.G., losing his hands has given him the thing he cherishes most, himself. He's found the one he lost somewhere on that road of life, the one who fell asleep in a snowbank under a haze of drugs and alcohol.
Life isn't easy, but he's up to the challenge. He's giving it his all, taking it one step at a time, being his best so that around him, he can create the best of worlds for everyone.
Kudos to you C.G. You are a great man.
Thank you to the players and management of The Calgary Flames. You rock!
And Thank you Jill Croteau who cared enough to make one man's Christmas wish come true in ways none of us ever imagined. You are amazing.
Here is Jill Croteau's story from Global Calgary (it begins after the 30 second ad on the Telus World of Science)