Jenny has become a good friend in every sense of the word since she volunteered to help me with my grocery trips several months ago.

After days abed with not a praying-to-die case of the flu, but close, with weakened vision and no appetite, I called Jenny to tell her I was feeling a little better. “I don’t want anything I have here to eat,” I told her. “All I can think of is a big, real-beef burger with lettuce and tomato.” (Fast food is an obsession with those who cannot see to drive.) Two hours later, Jenny was at my door with two burgers. By nightfall, I felt like myself for the first time in days.

Jenny, whose late husband was visually impaired, spends most days of her month making life better for those with vision problems.

On Friday she will drive a group up into the mountains to a camp owned by the National Federation of the Blind. She really wants me to tag along. “It’s peak time for the fall foliage,” she said. “I can’t see it now,” I replied. “That’s why I’m going to describe it to you,” she said.

I do not want to go. I told Jenny I don’t want to go. I cannot explain to her why. But the why of it has been on my mind.

As a child I was never satisfiled with Crayola’s box of eight and can still name every coolor in the box of 64.

I have been on mountain drives hundreds of times. I’ve seen the foliage at Clingman’s Dome and Newfound Gap in the Smokies and across the peaks along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have stood at the highest point east of the Mississippi River, at the center of a 360-degree palette of every imaginable hue and shade.

In those moments, through the years, I felt closest to God. Now, the canvas will be white. He will trust me to fill in the colors. If I am to fill it in from memory, I need to be alone.

Only then can some who were blessed with sight for most of their lives become true artists.

The imagination is full not just with colors, but with experiences which have colored one's life. The present can be intrusive.

Perhaps I can better explain my reluctance to return to the mountains this way. Have you stopped at a passage in a book and realized the author has touched a thought or a memory inside you? That the words are more meaningful because you’ve experienced them, and you need a quiet moment to reflect?

Because I had lived it with a husband and five cats I loved, I closed my eyes and felt the following scene from James Lee Burke’s “Crusader’s Cross.” In it, his fictional character, New Iberia Parish sheriff’s detective Dave Robicheaux, his three-legged raccoon Tripod, his cat Snugs and his new wife Molly share a backyard breakfast.

“Tripod climbed down from his perch in the live oak, and Snugs appeared out of the bamboo, his tail pointed straight up as stiff as a broomstick. The four of us commenced to share breakfast at the redwood table.

“When the world presents itself in the form of a green-gold playground, blessed with water and flowers and wind and cenuuries-old oak trees, and when you are allowed to share all these things on a fine Sunday morning with people and animals you love, why take on the burden of the spirituality afflicted?”


The week of illness turned out to be a respite from the news, the blogs, the daily reminders of the “spiritually afflicted” who put fault-finding and self-seeking before the greater good.
There is a world of difference between being lonely and being alone. Sometimes we just need the quiet moments, however they might come.


bj adkins said...

Glad you are feeling good enough to come back to life for us on your blog.
I too, have spent the last week in bed with a couple of trips to Omaha thrown in. My daughter brought us spaghetti for lunch yesterday...not exactly my choice but enough carbs to give me a little energy!
The last few years have taught me one thing--to be comfortable with myself. There's something very blessed about that!

Falzone for America said...

I read you words twice and I think I will copy them along with your Blog URL to all in my address book.

BJ if you aren't you should work on a book. Your life’s story. You could call it "A life in preparation for darkness" or "The lucidity of thought"

We love you and our hearts are open to you. I hope your sight returns to your standard condition. I didn't know about Jenny. Say hi for me.

God bless you body mind and spirit.

Sue said...

BJ your lovely words touch my heart like you will never know! You just go right ahead and close your eyes and see the pretty Fall leaves, yes it's a glorious burst of color here in NJ. I think our trees are turning color early and maybe that means we will have a hard winter. Thats ok with me, I love the snow!

Glad you are better and yes, those hamburgers sound YUMMY!! xoxo

Tiny said...

BJ, unfortunately few people understand the difference between being lonely and being alone. And you're right, there's a world of difference. Too, it seems the "spiritually afflicted" will always be present, persistant, and pesty.

Tiny loves your story and happy to hear you are on the upswing. Must be those miracle burgers! LOL Thank God for Jenny and her kind heartedness.

Here's hoping you will have a wonderful weekend as you fill your canvas with all the wonderful hues your mental palette and Mother Nature affords.

Thanks for sharing your stories with us. We love you.

Frodo, admiring the view, said...

Frodo thinks he knows who plays Scout to his Jem.

Ranch Chimp said...

Quite a post you wrote... kind of poetic. Unfortunate to hear about the "flu" bit ... I certainly hear about it daily enough. You done well pulling through it. As far as that H1N1 strain...I seen on the chart presented on the news that South carolina was one of the few state's where it IS NOT very widespread.

I love burger's...and like to make my own and frequently do. I eat good...but not healthy unfortunately.

You didnt miss anything this last week not wrting about the usual rif-raf and how they are screwing the people ... heh,heh,heh ... they still are ... maybe they could all use a trip to the mountain's to clear their extensive greed brain's out for a change. :) Good news is ... there might be a public option for health care...thanx to vigilante folk's like Nancy Pelosi.

Again...very well put posting Ms.BJ, take care, get well ... and have another big fat burger when you feel better as well!

Bill Sumrall said...

Sorry to hear you've been under the weather; we've been out of town and I just thought it was still problems with AT&T.
Glad you remember winding trips up the mountainside above the clouds and can still enjoy them in your mind's eye (but I don't blame you for not wanting your stomach to experience those switch-back roads).

Lorraine said...


Dear BJ,
your email made me sad. If you were up high in the mountains, feeling the height, the breeze, the sun and shadow, hearing the crunch of leaves from your feet as they scuff the leaves (just for fun) and the sound of chipmunks running across the forest floor, the noisy oak leaves drifting down, the loud echoings of crows, ravens, and Canada Geese, with the quiet chirps and warbles of the hearty little song sparrows, and if you were tasting the tang of that breeze that has touched all the colorful trees on its way to you, and if you were smelling the many threads of scent that make up the smell of Autumn, I bet you'd have even finer recall of the colors you enjoyed in the past. Leaving home territory is tough for most people who have lost the sight they once had, but “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I suggest the feel of fall using all our other senses beyond sight can be different than our memories of past falls, but would be another fine memory for anyone’s mental file.

B.J. said...

Lorraine: I appreciate your stopping by DemWit and reading my post. Please don’t be sad. Every experience I’ve had in life has involved all of my senses, and I certainly experienced all of what you’ve written. I think each of us has to deal with life’s opportunities in our own way. Best, BJ

B.J. said...


In checking my Site Meter, I see you are with the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland. I also see that you checked my “profile,” which, of course, doesn’t really tell you who I am.

In Jenny you have a very dedicated member in Anderson, S.C. In conversations with her, the “fear factor” has come up.

I appreciate the work that your organization – and others such as the Foundation Fighting Blindness – are doing. Please let me point out to you that I have lived with blindness (retinitiis pigmentosa) in my family all my life and have had the benefit of many exceptional role models.

It would be well for groups such as yours to consider that decisions made by those who have recently lost vision are not always motivated by fear.

Again, the best to you in your work.