January 22, 2020

The Weave of Society

Some of Jim's work

Some of Jim’s work

• By John F. Chisholm •

My friend Jim doesn’t realize how important he is.

I’ve known him 30 years. Longer.

Jim worked 25 of those years as a laboratory technician, raising two children at the same time. He’s spent at least 40 years faithfully married and finished the last 20 years of all that time legally blind. Strange. None of that seems like much of an accomplishment. Not to him. He was merely doing what he had to do to get by, earning a living and feeding his family.

A sample of Jim's work

A sample of Jim’s work

Self-deprecating, cranky and obstreperous, soft-hearted and hard-working, he epitomizes the never-dying spirit of determination. He’s built so much, so slowly, all the while completely unaware of the accomplishment.

Yet a great many of his line drawings went on display at the Brewer Rehabilitiation Center the end of July. They were completed with a magnifying class and in the extremely limited vision of his one “good” eye. As an object lesson in the vitality of hope, it’s a tough show to beat. Sketches of airplanes, cars, trucks and construction machinery decorate the halls. Careful, painstaking detail highlight the work.

This show went on despite a course in courage that Jim took this past spring. His remaining vision is deteriorating still further. He’s learning to walk with a white cane.

If you heard the drivers out there, blowing their horns, swearing at a blind man, you wouldn’t doubt his bravery either. No.

I scratch my head and wonder at the values humanity places on wealth instead of worth. Wandering the corridors of the Brewer Rehabilitation Center, looking at Jim’s drawings, it struck me forcibly just how many people there are like him. They live in false obscurity, never realizing how important they truly are, never recognizing the fabric they represent. Nor its strength.

It’s true. Jim and the people like him are the very fibers of our society. Their lives are woven into ours. The warp and weft of our time, they’re what holds us in place. More than even that, they are the flexibility and strength to carry on in the face of adversity. Any adversity.

Yet my friend Jim doesn’t realize how important he is.

Please, help me change that.

Thank someone who deserves it.

Do it today.