Sue Y.

Reflections: Charlie'sTomatoes

Grief is often defined as intense suffering caused by a loss.  Normally we think of a death when discussing this emotion but perhaps it can be the loss of something else we always expected to have.

Charlie and I grew up together.  He was my first boyfriend and I can remember being taken to school dances by his parents when we both were too young to drive a car.  Although times changed, Charlie and I remained friends.  He graduated high school and found a job repairing TV sets.  During the 1960’s Charlie was drafted and quickly snapped up by the Army.  Five months into his tour, he was shot in the head by a sniper.  Charlie came home blind.  I visited him a few times at his mother’s home and felt his grief, and anger over losing the precious gift of eyesight.

A few weeks later he left for the VA hospital near Chicago.  There he learned Braille, how to use a white cane, and to get around without being run over. Charlie returned home and began work on his BA in counseling.  He used tutors, talking books, and any other help available to achieve his goal.

  Somewhere in that time I decided to attend a church sponsored dance.  Who else to take with me but Charlie?  There he met a young lady who would become his wife.  After graduation Charlie decided to work for his Master’s degree.  He and Ann married and they set off for our state university some eighty miles away.  Things were definitely on the mend.

After completion of those studies, the couple moved back home and Charlie began a 30 years stint as a Counselor for the Blind.  He’s retired now.  He and Ann have four healthy children and several grandchildren.  Charlie has a voice activated computer and returns every so often for update training at the VA hospital.  He’s active in his church and goes on regular fishing trips with his buddies.  Charlie and Ann have a lovely home in the suburbs with a large back yard.  He plants a large garden every year and enjoys having the first and finest tomatoes in the neighborhood.

I visit Charlie a few times each year.  He seems happy and content.  Like most of us, he probably even has a few moments of joy.  When asked, Charlie will volunteer,” I’m blind as a bat, but everything else work just fine.”  Perhaps that’s the key for all of us.  Charlie still likes to dance and I make sure to visit when those tomatoes are ready to eat!

In planning this piece CONTENT remains KING.  Along with color choice I’ve added some words important to me in explaining the three stages of recovery.   They will serve as a back-drop for symbols depicting the grief, acceptance, and happiness mentioned in the above narrative.