A Life of Beauty and Regret

Moment of honesty here: I love to read, but rereading . . . not so much.

One reason for this is that I tend to be a slow reader. My default speed is apparently set at “savor,” and there doesn’t seem to be a lot I can do about it. Not if I want to retain any of what I’m trying to absorb.

Another thing that factors into my one-and-done philosophy is that I buy into the idea that there are so many books but so little time. I have this mild phobia about the sheer number of books I would like to one day read. I know that list is only going to continue to grow, and there is no possible way I will ever get to the end of it. As a result, there aren’t a lot of literary reruns in my life.

I’m pretty sure I can count my number of rereads on one hand, and I might even have a finger (and perhaps a thumb) left over. But my favorite on that short list is A Witness to Life by Terence M. Green.

In my humble opinion, it is the most beautiful book I have ever read. I have gifted it several times, and recommended it even more, and that is perhaps a better measure of what this book really means to me.

The story begins 34 years after the protagonist’s death, as he stands vigil over his dying daughter. Martin Radey is just a spirit at the foot of the bed when we meet him, but we’re soon taken on a journey through his life, from cradle to grave. It is an intimate portrait of a man’s successes and failures, and the author does such a wonderful job of depicting human frailties and shortcomings that your heart breaks for Martin even as he’s making the kinds of mistakes for which we often have trouble forgiving our own families.

Despite all of Martin’s missteps and regret, the author somehow maintains a feeling of hope throughout the book, and as the story closes, I am always left with a sense of peace about my own eventual end.

Martin Radey was the first character to ever feel like family to me. And though not all was forgiven, it was at least understood.  Martin was human, just like the rest of us. And maybe we all deserve a pass now and then.

Larry Jenkins is an aspiring Word Pimp. Has laptop, will travel. Let's make this happen, people.


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