Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rereading My Own Words

It is sort of funny to see how others end up interpreting something I've posted here. For instance, the previous post that included the chat session with my brother Charles was meant to show how little "real" information I get from him or his current caregivers since he's taking hospice care from home and I am not able to be there and see things firsthand myself. Instead, I have people telling me how moved they were and how they've been ministered to through the sharing of that "private" conversation. I've reread it many times and it is now different for me, too.

However, in the rereading of that post I've realized how inefficient the written word is for truly transferring the emotional moment on to others to experience with me. Missing from the conversation are the labored pauses waiting for each line of Charles' part of the conversation as he hunts and pecks with a single finger. Gone are the thoughts that ran through my head as I waited for each line from him. Thoughts of the questions that never got answered because they were never asked but only existed in my heart.

But obviously the real message came through. The message I didn't even know myself at the time that was being conveyed. The message that there can be peace in dying. There can be love in the midst of fear. The message that blessing can come from the most unexpected places and family members during this time.

The blessing of the alcoholic brother that remains as sober as possible and sleeps in the same bed as his dying brother so he can hear him if he stops breathing in the night.

The blessing of the immature delinquent son who sacrifices his self-centered ego and greed long enough to plant a huge vegetable garden under his father's gaze and direction. Just like the garden Charles would have planted himself as he has done every year at this time. The garden he will not see harvested.

He had to have known that the whole time the soil was being tilled, the plants were being purchased and each one placed just so in the ground and watered. He had to have known and had to have considered it in his mind as the final plant was put in and his son stood up sweaty and dirty and told him he was going fishing for the night.

Yes, I do read my own blog... over and over. That's what it is here for... me.


VikiBabbles said...


I read your entry last night, and this morning I heard this song, Breathe, by Anna Nalick.

It contained some lines that made me think of what you wrote:

2AM and I'm still awake writing a song
If I get it all down on paper it's no longer inside of me,
threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
'cause these words are my diary screaming out loud
and I know that you'll use them however you want to

It's the "I know that you'll use them however you want to" that made me think of what you wrote. Your blog is here for you, but once you put it out there, it becomes something else for others. Your readers' interpretations of what you've written takes on a meaning for them, as it relates to their own lives, and how your words affect them may have absolutely nothing to do with how the moment you are writing about affected YOU.

The two things-the affect Charles' illness has had on you and your family and the affect your words and story have on your readers-are at once completely separate and thoroughly intertwined.

We, your readers, are blessed that you have chosen to share this story with us, as we will glean meaning and learn lessons from yours and Charles' story.

I know it must feel odd to have complete strangers becoming emotionally involved in what is a very personal and emotional experience for you and for Charles and the rest of your family, but it is a testament not only to how well you are telling the story, but also to how powerful the messages are.

Good luck and God Bless.

VikiBabbles said...

Sorry, the grammar/spelling freak inside of me must correct-effect, not affect. Yikes.

Tony said...

Thank you, Viki. You have illuminated the very thing I was observing. I am so grateful for the interactions of people who have read this blog and have comforted and supported me with their words. For every comment I get publicly here on the blog I also get, on average, another two private e-mails from people who don't post or who post a comment then e-mail something further. Most of these people I had never known before the existence of this blog but have quickly become true friends in every sense of the word. My gratitude for each and every one of them, including you, is more than I can adequately say.

Abby Taylor said...

Beautiful post, Tony.

Tony said...

Thank you, Ms. Abby Taylor.

Counselor said...

You write beautifully. I admire you and your brother for the gifts you have been able to give to each other, and the grace to receive them.

Your words have reached me on the third anniversary of my father's death. He planted his own vivid, extravagant flower bed for himself that last spring. I think of him as I work in my own garden this month. I was not a gardener before, but it seems the perfect metaphor, the perfect place to be.
Thank you.

Tony said...

I consider that a high compliment coming from you, Counselor. My thoughts and prayers are with you on this third anniversary of your Father's passing. I am sure he would agree with Charles that the garden is indeed a wonderful symbol of the circle of life.