Complaining is a way of life for most of us.
We have it so well here in America that when conditions aren’t perfect, we gripe. I include myself in this group. Some of my most vocal protests include:
SNOW. Why do we need plowable snow when rain is far less troublesome?
RAIN. What the hell is with the flooding rains when snow is far less damaging?
PROPERTY TAXES. Just since I typed this, my taxes have increased $715.
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS. Does any other country but us still use this outdated system for oversleeping half the year and driving in darkness at 4pm the other half of the year?
TRAFFIC. Why does everyone need to be on the road when I’m on the road?
If I had a few more pages and a few more hours, I could provide the complete, unabridged list of all the things that trigger me.
You know who didn’t complain … about anything? The recently passed Jim Glendye.
Jim and my mom were a couple for 25 years. She met Jim about 14 years after my dad had died suddenly.
While still a young man, Jim endured his first tragedy when his 4-year-old son James Jr., died in his arms a year after his leukemia diagnosis. In the two and a half decades I knew Jim, I never heard him wallow or complain.
Ex-husbands and -wives are popular targets of criticism. When I first met Jim, he was already divorced, yet I never heard a single disparaging word of Jim’s ex-wife.
In May 2020, Jim lost a second child when his son Jonathan died of a heart attack. Surely the fuse of despair had been lit, and friends and relatives would hear of this second tragedy. Rightfully so.
But Jim took a deep breath or two and swallowed his grief. Again.
And then swallowing of anything got difficult. Esophageal cancer had arrived and, with it, the difficulties speaking and swallowing. Surgeries, chemotherapy and steady visits to Boston hospitals were a part of his daily routine until the cancer was banished.
Certainly, this nasty of turn of events would lead to a, “Why me?!” But it didn’t. Jim took it in stride, following doctors’ recommendations until the cancer was in the rear-view mirror. All without a single complaint.
Meanwhile, I complained regularly of the Patriots’ offense, pollen, gas prices, my trick knee and anything else in my life that fell short of perfect.
Then Jim’s cancer returned, this time in the form of a brain tumor. Some brain tumors are more dangerous than others. This tumor was reachable via surgery. The operation got all the bad cells, though Jim’s demeanor and balance were impaired temporarily.
Not sure the unsteady gait even affected his golf game where he sheepishly carried the nickname “Sand Man” for his frequent trips to the bunkers.
I never heard Jim complain about the brain cancer before, during or after recovery. I complained plenty. Why is golf televised? Why are golf uniforms so goofy? Why do I slice during miniature golf?
A year or so ago, cancer attacked Jim for the third time. This time it got his liver.
Over the years, neither my mom nor Jim complained about the 200-plus trips from New Hampshire to Dana-Farber’s chemotherapy facilities in Boston and Methuen. Nor the countless CAT and PET scans.
Fallout from the initial esophageal cancer stole Jim’s voice and left behind a hoarse whisper.
“How you doing, Jim?” I’d ask often.
“Doing OK,” he’d force out in strained tones while nodding weakly.
This didn’t stop Jim from calling me moments after every Patriots game to discuss our team’s chronic troubles post-Brady. OK, maybe Jim did complain a little. But it was warranted. Ask any sports fan in New England.
Unfortunately, the chemo was no longer effective and no number of CAT scans would change the results. He got weaker.
Knowing that his days were numbered, my mom successfully encouraged Jim to attend the annual Christmas Eve party at my brother’s home and the Christmas morning breakfast and festivities at our home.
We helped Jim in and out of the homes and my mom’s car, as he had no strength, appetite, energy and only the faintest voice. Also absent was any complaining – something that’s brought up often among family members praising Jim’s will to live.
Just days before he was transferred to hospice, Jim took his final breath at home on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 6. He was surrounded by my mom and his family.
I haven’t complained about taxes, weather, pollen or the Patriots since. In fact, griping about anything now strikes me as petty and weak. If Jim could resist griping about ongoing assaults on his life, I can shut my mouth when minor disruptions arrive.
Rest easy, Sand Man. And thank you for the lesson.