Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer reading

My two sons still have their summer reading to conquer. They are not showing much excitement about this, so I took it upon myself to go to the library and take out both of their books. I was certainly impressed by the chosen books. My 17 year olds book is Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", and my 14 year olds is "Death Be Not Proud", by John Gunther. I am completely embarrassed to say, that prior to picking them up at the library, I hadn't read either one. So, I picked up the latter, and began to read. "Death Be Not Proud" is not a long book, only 205 pages, but it packs a powerful punch! It's a memoir, a parents view of their son's struggle with a brain tumor, and ultimately, death. As a parent, this book had a profound effect on me, and I couldn't put it down!

Here is a quote from the last chapter of the book, "A Word from Frances", the boys mother. This is sort of long, but it touched me so deeply, I feel I have to share it with you now.
"I did not for one thing feel that God has personally singled out either him or us for any special act, either of animosity or generosity. In a way I did not feel that God was personally involved at all. I have all my life had a spontaneous, instinctive sense that the reality of God, in faith, beyond ordinary belief. I have always prayed to God and talked things over with Him, in church and out of church, when perplexed, or very sad, or very happy. During Johnny's long illness, I prayed continually to God, naturally. God was always there, He sat beside us during the doctor's consultations, as we waited the long vigils outside the operating room, as we rejoiced in the miracle of brief recovery, as we agonized when hope ebbed away, and the doctors confessed there was no longer anything they could do. They were helpless, and we were helpless, and in His way, God, standing by us in our hour of need, God in His infinite wisdom and mercy and loving kindness, God in all His omnipotence, was helpless too."
What amazing thoughts. And,  the ability to put those words together is stunning! But more amazingly, here's a poem the boy, Johnny, had written as he lived his life, and asked questions until the very end.

Unbeliever's Prayer

Almighty God
forgive me for my agnosticism;
For I shall try to keep it gentle, not cynical,
nor a bad influence.

And O!
if Thou art truly in the heavens,
accept my gratitude
for all Thy gifts
and I shall try
to fight the good fight. Amen

What a story! What a life!
Hopefully, my son will read this wonderful piece of literature. How can I convince him what a magnificent read this is? Meanwhile, I've still got "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" to sink my teeth into! And, plenty of time before the books are due.


  1. Oh! I remember fighting the battle of the reading list!

    I can't believe you made it through school and those weren't required reading.

    Love, love love Johnny's prayers!

  2. it was johnny's first attempt at a poem, and so eloquent. he was quite an unusual boy!
    it most likely was required reading, and not sure how i DID get through school! i'm convinced, it must have been my charm.