Hooray for happy thoughts

Jan 19, 2011 at 6:00 am

I recently watched the cinematic adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 award-winning novel “The Road.” How could I go wrong with this flick? I’d heard a lot about the book, but had never read it. I love science fiction, and I love Viggo Mortensen (who plays the movie’s lead). No downside, right? Wrong! This was the most depressing freaking movie I’ve seen in a long time. And they say the book is worse.

“The Road” was like the 6 and 11 o’clock local news — bleak, desolate, full of death, and without hope. Upon reflection, my column has been a monthly dose of depression, too. I mean, let’s face it — all I’ve been writing about is politics, religious exploitation, more politics, lost hope in politicians and religious leaders, more politics, yada yada yada. My God, I even took a potshot at Santa Claus last month. C’mon, Jones!

So, I’ve made a decision — I’m going to take a small break from depressing stuff. I’m going to be lighter for the time being. I’m going to be kinder and gentler. Yeah, I’m going to write about happy things. I’ll call this my “warm human interest” period. Yeah, I like that. So, here are some good stories:

For much of last year, I had two duties whenever I went home to Atlanta. One was to visit my grandmother’s grave, make sure her marker was polished, and keep her flowers in order. My other duty was to visit my uncle in prison and leave him money for his inmate’s commissary. Neither is particularly exciting, though visiting my grandmom is always
oddly peaceful.

My uncle was released from prison on New Year’s Eve. His readjustment to society was a concern, especially considering the fact that his mother (my grandmom) died while he was in prison. All I can remember, though, was the happiness on his face when I picked him up. The man was beaming.

He’s been gone for a while and hasn’t led a very responsible life. But now, in spite of it all, he’s drug free and physically free for the first time in years. Will he have challenges? Yes. But, he’s free, has a new shot and is excited about it. In my book, that’s a good thing. Hooray for second chances.

A few years ago, one of my older fraternity brothers died. Unbeknownst to his fraternity brothers, friends and wife, he had a son outside his marriage that he had kept secret for almost 40 years. Hell of a blow to his wife who found out the week of his funeral. Fast forward.

I recently asked one of my friends how the wife was doing and was informed that she and her husband’s son are now quite close. They talk often, and she even attended his mother’s funeral with him a few months ago. She had a broken heart, but now has a new son … and the man who was hidden for years by his father now has a new mother. Hooray for humanity and forgiveness.

A few years ago, I wrote about Kerry Norwood, one of my best friends since I was about 12 years old. Kerry has dealt with sickle cell anemia all his life, and during his infancy, doctors told his mother he would be lucky to live 16 years. To be sure, all through our middle and high school years, Norwood was in and out of the hospital, often for extended periods of time.

I’ve seen him in so much pain that he couldn’t even speak. I’ve seen him stare down death repeatedly. Well, he didn’t die at 16. In fact, he’s overdue by more than a quarter century. He’s lived long enough to care for his father as he lay dying of cancer (even though his father abandoned him as a child). He’s lived long enough to become one of the most committed fathers I’ve ever met, even though he didn’t meet his own father until he was 16 (the year he was supposed to die). He’s lived long enough to know that sometimes you just keep on living and fighting. He’ll turn 44 this year. My man! Hooray for life!

All these are positives … good things. I know you have some, too. Let’s try to highlight them in 2011. Hooray for happy thoughts, baby. And no matter what you do, don’t watch or read “The Road” (at least for a while).