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Stories tell how the healer became healed
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Abigail Cutchshaw holds the book she’s recently written about her late father, longtime Gainesville pediatrician James Michael Hosford. After his death last year, she says, her grief turned into the book, which recounts his life and struggle with addiction.

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Listen as Abigail Cutchshaw talks about her book, “A Clock, a Coffee Pot and a Field of Lilies,” which describes her father’s life as a well-known pediatrician and recovering drug and alcohol addict.

Shattered by the loss of her father, Abigail Cutchshaw decided to channel her grief through her passion for writing.

A year of putting her father’s life and work into words has resulted in a book, “A Clock, a Coffee Pot and a Field of Lilies.”

“Grief has an enormous energy with it and I couldn’t fall apart, having five children to take care of,” Cutchshaw said in an interview last week. “So, I decided to harness that energy and create something meaningful out of it.”

Her father, Dr. James Michael Hosford, a Gainesville pediatrician, died last May of cancer, leaving two generations of area families who knew him as just “Dr. Mike” to mourn his passing.

Hosford led an eventful and, as things would turn out, inspirational life.

At an early age, he won a national science fair, got to meet President John F. Kennedy, appeared on NBC’s “Today” show and earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school.

“Sometimes, things can just appear to look like someone has it all made,” said Cutchshaw, 35, who lives in Cleveland and writes a newspaper advice column, “Ask Lula Belle.”

“Inside, he was really struggling. He was an alcoholic and drug addict. A lot of people in Gainesville knew that, but some people didn’t,” she said.

Cutchshaw’s book is a story of a “journey of how he found hope,” Cutchshaw said. “It’s a story for everybody because (Hosford’s life) was spiritually and emotionally uplifting.

“I think everybody can relate to the story, because we all have wounds ... and challenges and struggles.”

While doing his residency at a hospital in Alabama, a drunken Hosford was confronted in the emergency room by his peers.

“He got fired, and that’s why he moved to Gainesville (in 1976),” Cutchshaw said. “He thought a geographical change would be the solution.”

It wasn’t.

“He was trying to quit drinking and using drugs, and he just couldn’t do it,” said his daughter.

One day at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, a nurse became suspicious of Hosford’s behavior.

“She thought maybe he was under the influence, and he was,” Cutchshaw said. “And he was confronted again, and this time, he went to a ... treatment program for addiction.

“It worked for a short time and he finally kind of realized he wasn’t crazy ... he had a disease. And alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease.”

Four years later, while at his familiar Sherwood Park Drive practice, Hosford’s business partner left him “because he felt he couldn’t trust him,” Cutchshaw said.

“At that time, he tried another detox, and this time, it worked. And he became more involved in (Alcoholics Anonymous).”

The book’s title “describes three miracles that happened,” Cutchshaw said. “The ‘Field of Lilies’ is the most touching part of the story because it describes an event that my sister, who was 12 years old at the time, in a way showed (Hosford) how to let God into his heart.

“And he began a more spiritual journey of letting AA in his heart. He was able to truly surrender to a higher power.”
An AA slogan, “In order to keep it, we must give it away,” sums up “who my dad was and the philosophy he adopted to find a better way to live his life,” Cutchshaw said.

“And for the last 24 years that he was clean and sober, he dedicated his life to serving others,” she said. “He not only healed people physically, he healed a lot of people spiritually.”

Hosford also believed in bartering.

“He accepted payment for medical services in chicken, firewood and art,” Cutchshaw said. “And if someone needed medication, he made sure they found the way (to get it).”

After his death, Hosford’s practice received more than 500 notes from families about “how he touched their lives and some stories about how he saved their children’s lives,” she said.

“Or maybe their family was in a crisis and he was there — he knew the right things to say and he guided them to getting the help they needed.”

The book is for sale at several area locations including Sherwood Park Pediatrics, where he practiced, with proceeds going to the J. Michael Hosford Foundation.

“We established that to honor our father and continue his life’s work of helping others,” Cutchshaw said. “The foundation supports the nonprofit organizations of Gainesville and Hall County ... of the things he was involved in while he was here to help people.”

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