Now 98, the Mystic, Connecticut man has not only learned to do both but has even penned a memoir full of short stories.
“I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t read or anything like that, but I covered myself pretty good in certain respects. I had to because I didn’t know what to do,” Henry said.
He sought his wife’s help several years ago, but she was too sick to help. After her death, Henry’s granddaughters encouraged him to learn and were able to get help from the Literacy Volunteers of Eastern Connecticut.
His nephew Bobby helped in a different way. Bobby stopped taking phone calls from him and only communicated with Henry through handwritten letters.
Mark Hogan, a retired English teacher, met with Henry twice a week and taught him everything from letters to punctuation.
“He was very willing to do this thing, but he had his own prejudices against things like punctuation, apostrophes, he called them butterflies,” Hogan said.
After nearly a year of tutoring, Henry began writing short stories and from those came the memoir “A Fisherman’s Language.”
Can you imagine reading and writing after spending all those years just guessing; just faking it to get by?
I usually go for one main point but there are just too many aspects to this incredible story. So I’ll mention some and you take the path that resonates with you.
Never too old: Age is not the limit that we make it out to be. Many of humanity’s best contributions have come from our senior citizens.
Perseverance: The finish line is reached by those who keep putting one foot ahead of the other. Life is a marathon, not a sprint!
It’s not too late: As long as there is breath in our lungs, there is still time. Go for it!
Traveling companions: James had others who rallied around him to share the journey. We all need traveling companions!
No faking: James felt shame about not being able to read and write. When we get real with needing help we lose the shame and live into our full potential sooner.
Until Jesus comes back for us or death ushers us into His presence, let’s keep learning!
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.