Monday, March 16, 2009

Think Well of Your Friends....

This post was supposed to be about prejudgement, but it is turning into something else in my head. Lack of openness is as much a part of this as is prejudgement. See, I was reading a fellow bloggers post asking for prayers for a dying friend named JoAnna (whom if you would be so kind as to pray for her complete healing, I am sure he would appreciate that). Somehow that got me thinking about my father's wake several years ago. I got to thinking about a conversation I had with a neighbor that day, who was once a good friend of my dad's, but they drifted apart...

Greg: Tsk. Such a shame. He probably could have recovered better if he didn't drink...
Helen: Greg, dad didn't drink for the last 15 years. Not even when I graduated from college. He said when I was about 8 that as he gets older, he finds it makes him sick. He couldn't handle more than one drink without get nauseous, so he stopped drinking all togetherl (making it hard for him to get along with drinkers in the family who thought accepting a drink was equal to accepting hospitality. "Love me, love my whiskey..").
Greg: Helen, I saw your dad come home staggering...
Helen: Greg, he worked twelve hour days in a hot factory and had half a foot on one leg, varicose veins throbbing in both legs....What do you expect?
Greg: Half a foot?
Helen: Yeah. It was from a farming accident when he was a boy.
Greg: Why didn't he tell me?
Helen: Why would he?
Greg: When I said something about his staggering....?
Helen: I guess he would rather have you thinking he was drunk than pitying him.

Greg and I continued with a little small talk, then I left to talk to others. Someone soon asked me who he is, because he was weeping. I just said he was an old friend of dad's. They said that he must have loved him a lot. I imagine (though I may be prejudging myself), that he was weeping over years where their friendship could have continued beautifully if he hadn't misjudged, or if my dad had trusted him enough with the knowledge of his injury. They both screwed up, and paid a price. Neither of them assumed the best about their friend, but the worst. I am going to work harder to assume the best about my friends, family, and people around me, instead of the worst. When I weep at their wakes, I want it to be because I feel sorry for the loss to their families and myself of the future with them, not the past.
I also am going to work at being honest with my friends about stuff. No more "fine", if it isn't. Doesn't "fine" when things aren't fine tempt people to draw their own conclusions, which may hurt them more than finding out what is wrong? I am going to assume that they are loving enough to take the truth about me, whatever it is.
Sorry if I sound like Polly Anna. But my dad had a saying. "Sure, people learn from their mistakes. But smart people are able to learn from the mistakes of other". I hope I am smart enough to truly learn from their mistake. I hope you all are able to get something from it, too.


Beth said...

Wow. That's a powerful reminder, Helen. Thanks for that.

katdish said...

I don't know how much I've shared about this, but my dad (whose house I am typing this from) and my sisters have a very strained relationship. They have attempted to make amends on a few occassions, but unfortunately, on certain points, all would rather be right than happy. I pray that pride would be set aside and they could appreciate the special relationship that they are all missing out on. Was my dad a model father? No. Am I a perfect mother? Absolutely not. But it would break my heart if my kids grew up and wanted nothing to do with me.

Helen said...

Beth-Thanks. I just think it is sad. Dad would have been happier if when Greg made an obnoxious comment and assumption about his gait said something like "Give me a break! I'm injured, and you are giving me grief!" and given him an opportunity to rethink his assumption and apologize, and his friend would have been happier if he could have thought of another possiblity and said "Gee, I l hope Frank is alright. I don't like the way he is walking, maybe I should ask what is wrong...."

Katdish-That is sad. The past is lost, but the future isn't...yet. Why don't we realize these things until after a wake? I hope your sisters and dad come around soon.

Michelle said...

Helen, this post is spot on. For me.

I have been having trouble in my head with something and now I know what i have to do!!!


sherri said...

Helen- this is a great ,insightful post. You are so right. We really have no idea what is going on in the lives of others.

I'd love to hug your Daddy. He just sounds like someone I would have, he made you!

-Had to have been a great guy.

Annie K said...

Kat, I can relate because of my daughter and her dad (throw a stepmom in the mix and you have....). Lot's of pride, ego, and who is-who isn't right. It's ridiculous and I think it's going to turn into a regretful situation because of those things.

Helen, well said. I seem to find myself doing that sometimes as well. And every now and then i have to remind myself to knock it off.

Helen said...

Michelle, I hope it works out well for you and your friend.
Sherri, thanks. I think dad would have liked you all too. He would have crashed our party in August, you know. He and mom always would sit at the table with us for about an hour when my friends came over. He even yelled at them if their grades were lower than he thought they should be. AND THEY LOVED IT!
Annie, thanks. Me too. I think sometimes I inherited my dad's stubborn pride. But I got his sense of humor , too, so it ain't all bad. ;-)