Insight to Injury

March 26, 2008
By Logan Ream, Norcross, GA

I walked with my father today. Each step seemed so foreign. We accumulate about an hour of conversation between the two of us in any given week, and in our history of me being his son, we have never walked together. A relationship exists there; it is simply small and stagnant.
The walk was not for me but for my mom. We were taking her to the mall so she could have some time out of the house. She's currently infirmed on our leather chair back home, dulling the pain of her second shoulder surgery with daytime television. Dr. Phil writes a mean prescription.

Meanwhile, my dad has taken a time out from the seclusion of bread winning to be both parents for the next few weeks. Until Mom recovers, Dad is in charge of nearly any tedious task she would normally do on her own, untouched by planning or help; bathing, dressing, doing her hair, etc. I am sure if I was in his position, I would already be praying to the Invisible for summer to hurry. But I can see no such prayer behind his eyes. 23 years of marriage is his god, and he has faith.

From as little as Dad and I converse, I finally learned a lesson from him in love and marriage. For love to live, one must love the whole person, not just when they’re showered and smiling. The tacit tutorial has size to eclipse the sun, but cultivates my conscious. The discovery nurtures my future.. I realize now how much my dad still cares about his wife; the nagging, the tangents, that slurred speech after one too many. All of these wane in the shadow of his love.
Day 5

"Today, I was so good to your mom...” my father began to brag. The car ride conversation was ominously leaving me uninvolved and indifferent. My teacher of humility started to expel the details of his day to trapped ears. Car doors don't open when the shiny sedan is in motion.

My mom used to carry on the in the same self-appreciating tone when she would pick me up from school. She would blunder on about the burdens she been through in her day. I would nod my head, more to the rhythm of the radio in the background than to her report, and she, like my father, was naïve enough to believe I was listening.

My father was listing the ways he donated valuable time to my needy mother; an early morning walk, a drive to lunch, and a seamless stream of syllables that had no effect on me. Dad shouldn’t sound like mom. I was fidgeting in my skin until the story stopped. Brake lights. A stop sign. A parking space, finally. I preemptively slid my fingers behind the silvery salvation of the door handle. A left turn into the slanted space and my door clacked open immediately.

After my hurried walk to the next door, so I could buy some shimmering trinket of no consequence, a revelation slowly approached. Love, even when bounding over incapabilities and weaknesses, does not insulate the lover from disappointments, obligations, or the feeling of entrapment. Love may require more work than this slacker is willing to go through with.

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