Saturday, May 31, 2014

This Too

Noticing his misery, his father gave him an instruction that Charlie always remembered when he needed to. "You think it's awful. And it is. But I'll tell you something. You can't believe it now, but times will come when this won't be on your mind. You won't think of it."
Wendell Berry, A Place in Time, Drouth

I first noticed this phenomenon after having a few operations. When you come home from the hospital, the cause and results of your operation, whatever it my have been, occupy your consciousness almost completely. You probably hurt, and every move you make reminds you that you hurt. You're always thinking about how to move just so, so that you won't make the pain worse. You think there might be something wrong. Your incision doesn't look right. You're not sure you are following the doctor's instruction correctly. Your medication doesn't seem to be working right. 

In a week, or a month, or maybe two, you're feeling better, but there's still an ache here and a twinge there, and you're exhausted. Your incision begins to itch. You're ready to get back to your normal life but you're soooo tired. You feel almost well, but you have a little relapse. 

But then a day comes when you realize you haven't thought about your operation for a couple of weeks. You feel really good. You can do everything you used to do. Pretty soon the whole experience, which was so all-consuming has disappeared beneath the waters of your everyday life and you only remember it when operations or sickness come up in casual conversation.

Then as I got older, some serious things began to happen in our family. I'm not going to go into details here, but we had some hard times--times when it seemed that everything we hoped for was lost--times when it seemed that it would be impossible to be really happy ever again. Even in the midst of those times, though, there were days that weren't so bad, when life pretty much went on in a normal way, and moments when we were happy. Berry speaks to this paradox further on in this story about the effects of a drought on a young boy.
For me, it was a summer of need--of more need, probably, than I was capable of recognizing or feeling. That one may be grieved and in need and all the while living one's life, often enough with interest and even pleasure, was an ordinary oddity far beyond my years and understanding. Grief, great as it might be, did not consume all the world, but now, for me, it had taken its place among the world's other things.
"Grieved and in need" we were indeed, but time passed, and grief did not consume all the world, or even our small part of it. Eventually, things got better--much better--although as Sam Gamgee hoped, everything sad has not yet come untrue. Now, we don't think about those times often, and when we do, much of the pain has been relieved.

Lately, things have been kind of hard, both physically and emotionally, but I know that down the road a bit, I won't think about them much. In the meantime, things are looking up. Thursday, we moved Mother into her new apartment. It's really a lovely place. It's on the 10th floor of the building and it's a corner room with fairly large windows, and it's next to a park, so the view is wonderful. I wish I had pictures, but I was too tired to get my phone out of my pocket. Hard as it was to prepare for and make this move, it was great to see my family working together to get this done. I think that Mother is happy to be there. I'm sure it will be an adjustment, but everyone there has been very, very nice, and soon, I think, she will feel at home there.

We found out that Mother was going to have to sell her house, and many of her possessions, and find a new place to live during the first week of April, and all this was done by May 29. That is truly amazing. We had a contract withing 3 weeks of putting the house on the market, and there wasn't the slightest hitch along the way. The people we found to buy her things were absolutely wonderful to her, and I think they were truly fond of her by the time our business was finished. We seem to have found the perfect place for Mother to live. I believe that this is an answer to prayer and the gift of a loving Father, but it really puzzles and humbles me when I think about it. Why are we so blessed when I see others struggling so much? It seems almost an act of presumption to say that I think it's God's work, but on the other hand, it would be an act of ingratitude to say that it wasn't. I guess that all I can do is just be truly grateful, and try to live in a way that shows that gratitude.

I guess this precludes complaining about my little miseries, but I'm going to have to try to do it anyway.



  1. I am very happy to hear that the sale and move went well. It's a big job, and quite something to come out the other side without too much amiss. Congratulations. Now -- or at least sometime soon -- maybe you can get some rest?

  2. Thanks, Craig. I'm going to be off work from the 20th to the 30th of this month, and the only thing I have planned in that time is a dentist's appointment and a couple of days babysitting for my 3 yo granddaughter while my grandson is born and afterward. That won't be very restful, but I'll probably be laughing a lot.


  3. Well, that is wonderful news! Congratulations to the whole family!