This story is rather special to me partly because it took a good deal longer to develop than the rest and because I visited an assisted living home the day after I completed it. Understanding what made the Greatest Generation so great is a treasure left undiscovered by most of us today. As this series heads to its conclusion, I hope you find the chance to take the time and reflect on life and reach out to someone you normally wouldn’t think about. One more to go, until further notice.
The Boy Who Was Misunderstood
by J. D. H. Thigpen
There once was a boy named Thom Glumb. Thom was a typical
rebellious teenager, right down to the unsavory trousers and tattered
skate-shoes. Poor young Thom was convinced that he was a loner and
had therefore pushed away those that actually did want to know him.
He had decided that he was misunderstood and proceeded to make
himself difficult to understand.
So it was for Thom’s highschool years. He slowly replaced his real
friends with people that he thought were ‘cool’ because they knew how
to enjoy themselves with a little help from profanity and stimulants. He
lost sight of his grades. He quit his job, because corporations were no
longer in vogue. He found a like-minded girlfriend and tried to convince
himself that she made him happy.
Life went on in this manner until one brisk morning in September.
The rain clouds had gathered in droves and the aspen trees had
abandoned their leaves. The day seemed to mirror what Thom felt in
the pit of his heart. That was the morning that Mr. Glumb threatened
to discipline Thom with the only thing that held any weight in Thom’s
mind: his car.
At his wife’s request, Mr. Glumb told Thom that he could keep his
keys only if he agreed to visit his grandfather at the assisted living
home once a week. Reluctantly Thom consented and set about it the
next day. In spite of all his faults, Thom kept his promises and therefore
actually did go to see old Father Glumb. And he was all the better for it.
The old man had a wry smile which seemed to say to Thom that here
was a man that had weathered too many hardships to take life too
seriously anymore. Thom was surprised to find that an aged relative
could be sarcastic, and, half against his will, took a liking to him almost
instantly. The conversation on their first visit was so invigourating that
Thom was actually eager to visit again the next week. Father Glumb
made him feel valuable, and never let him forget that he had the
potential to be a good man.
It was not long before Thursdays were Thom’s favourite days of
the week. Gradually the conversations became deeper and shifted
from Thom doing most of the talking and Father Glumb listening
intently, to Thom eagerly listening to stories from Father Glumb’s life.
Thom became intensely curious as to what had made Father Glumb
into the man that he was.
The more Thom learned about his grandfather, the more he began
to realize that in his frenzy to make people see his point of view he
had lost sight of the virtue of listening. When at last the day came
for Father Glumb to make acquaintance with his Master, whom he
had served all of his days, Thom found that his grief had given way
to a desire to be the sort of man Father Glumb had always told him
that he was. At last Thom knew that it is better to understand than
to be understood.