A close relative revealed the other day that he has written a book and that it is soon going to press. I wasn’t surprised – he has enviable writing skills; has written all of his life. Actually, I was glad to see that he had stepped out of his vacuum and, finally, begun using his gifts. Really, I don’t know if he’ll ever be wealthy; but he will get that ever-elusive sense of satisfaction that comes from doing what he enjoys. And he’ll release an incredible amount of angst. It takes a lot to write a book.
The content was a bit confusing, initially, but as I read I began to understand. It was good. It was clear. It was better than I could have done with the subject matter he has chosen. Yeah, I’m going to read it again. The name of the book – if you’re wondering – is Conversations of Love; written by Jeremiah Loquacious Denton. Look it up if you get a chance.
Oh yeah. It’s about God’s love and how men process it for and through their women. He says the book stems from loves he has lost, but it is a message to the one he wins.
I’m particularly pleased about this effort because I remember the beginnings of this young man’s life. Born with multiple medical issues he was promised no more than three months to live. He lived anyway. Then he was promised that his bones were too soft to support him. They did; he is now over 6 feet tall and strong as, well, as a bull. They said he would never achieve because of his inability to focus or to comprehend the world around him. “They” were obviously wrong. God has a way of doing things.
He does suffer; people who don’t know him don’t understand how hard he has fought for his life. They don’t know the challenges he has had communicating, working, getting an education. He overcame them all; won awards for his academic achievements, even excelled in the military. We were satisfied, pleased, and proud of him then. We are proud, pleased and satisfied with him now.
So, out of his pain he has elicited glory.
Sometimes we, his family who should understand him better than most, look askance at his efforts and – as with any wayward child, mutter “Aw mannn. Here we go!” But we encourage him; every success a celebration. Every failure acknowledged as preparation for the next success. He never stops trying. He cries only in private. When we see him, when we lay eyes on him, we are met with his easy smile (forced, actually, but we pretend not to notice) and a warm embrace. “How you doin’? I’m good.”
His father is not around. We’d like to share this with him, but maybe it doesn’t matter at this point.
But maybe it does. A near-70 year old friend of mine just recently revealed that he is angry that his father was not there. He was frustrated that he tried to communicate his loss to his father, but was brushed off. The idea that things were different back then was not sufficient to alleviate my friend’s pain. So I wonder about it, but will respect my relative’s wishes and leave it alone.
There are 15 children in my friend’s family; 9 boys and six girls. Only the four youngest know their father; lived with their father. One of the boys was killed at 24, leaving 14 to mourn. It was rough, my friend told us. A large family in a four-room house behind a store (it was actually a storage room). A single parent household, usually. Kids slept in bunk beds and on twin mattresses – feet to face. There was a dog, too. A giant German Shepherd named Blackboy. So little food, so many people, one bathroom. Yeah, it was rough.
But then they moved into the courts, that’s what they called housing projects down south. There were three bedrooms, a living room that was lived in, not slept in, a kitchen and a bath. That was more than they’d had before so it was enough. The older boys had jobs. Newspaper delivery. The eldest joined the military; the second and third oldest soon followed. The remaining children continued as usual. They worked. Yep, all but the youngest had jobs. They went to school, came home, cleaned up (when their mom could catch them), ate and played. The typical family growing up anywhere- including the south. They played, fought, cried and lied together.
There was a third house which was larger, roomier. There were fewer children at home now. Those that remained were older; capable of feeding themselves, of cleaning behind themselves, transporting themselves, and managing their own homework and wash. But it was still full of children. And something else – sadness maybe. Anger definitely.
They are all grown up, now; they’ve moved on; grown into highly functional, productive adults. They are CPAs, teachers, musicians, managers of all sorts of businesses, owners of all sorts of businesses – but not in the business of being related. They don’t seem to get along very well. They don’t talk or visit with each other. My friend said the oldest brother had a stroke recently but that no one went to see him. They all assumed he would be fine. And he was, but he is angry.
It seems that everyone is angry; violence trends throughout all of his stories. Just recently he heard that his older sister, the oldest child, was beaten up by her granddaughter and daughter. Since his sister hasn’t called they assume she is alright.
When I look at my relative I think about this family. We have our problems and yes, there is space between us. I thank God that it is not as dark or as deep or as engulfing as his family’s space is. I am thankful that we can do better. I believe we can do better because I have watched other do it. I have watched others step over distrust, frustration and distance. We can do that too. When I look at my friend I see pain, and I feel that pain. I remember the times that my own relative looked at me just like that. I try to soothe this man as if he were mine. I hope that it is enough.
Yeah, I’ll call his brother. And mine.
Although the love I’m talking about is different, it is as necessary and as hurtful as the love(s) discussed in Conversations of Love.
I know families hurt each other just as unrequited love hurts young men. It’s what we learn from the broken heart, each put down or put aside, that helps us to do better the next time. What I get from the book and its correlation to life is that God loves us through our pains and our downfalls so that we can do the same for others. And the people we love don’t always look like the people who love us.
Even though we want them to.
There is always the possibility that a change is needed; maybe we should look at what caused the relationship to fail; look to see if our personal pain is blocking our future happiness? Maybe we should skip the ready smile and check in with our souls to learn whether we’re ready to give as thoroughly, as exhaustively, as love requires. Sometimes we are just not ready. We are not healed. We don’t know enough.
When we get ready – when we are healed is when the family will come together. That is when we will be able to love THE ONE, the right, person who comes later.
I’ll see you next time.