Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

For July 20, 2003


Reading helps me endure the tedious hours of recuperation and therapy


          This past Wednesday concluded the first month since the surgery that replaced both my knees. I do believe it has been the slowest month of my life. My doctors did not mislead me; they advised me that my recovery would require two or three months.

            What they failed to tell me was that these two or three months would “feel” like six months. Since my wife is my principal caregiver now that I am home, I imagine this recovery period will feel more like a year to her. Her task is tougher than my own.

            Everyone tells me to be patient. Take it easy. Do not push yourself. And I remember well one of the mottoes of my working years: “Progress, not perfection, is the goal.” I keep telling myself all of this every day – and trying hard to believe it.

            Convalescence takes time. Since I am confined to the house for several weeks, I have tried a number of things to fill the hours and fight the boredom. Reading has proven quite helpful.

            I began with magazines. Only lately have I felt like tackling books. We subscribe to very few magazines, but several come unsolicited, and friends brought others.

            John Patterson brought me the summer issue of Sporting News, which features SEC Football. There is a nice spread about Auburn and how the Tigers are expected to field one of the best teams in college football this fall. I enjoyed that.

            Thomas and Jackie Samford introduced me to Outdoor Alabama, a beautiful magazine that promotes outdoor life in our own state. The July issue features a story about Alabama’s most popular game bird, the mourning dove. Thomas and I both enjoy hunting doves.

            We approach dove hunting differently, however.  I observed this difference last fall when we were stationed near each other on a dove shoot hosted by our friend Joe Dean.

            Thomas shoots and a dove falls. I shoot, several times, and sometimes a dove falls. I concluded that I am more merciful toward the doves than Thomas. My son, Matt, who hunted with us, said, “Dad, go ahead and admit it. Thomas is a crack shot, and you are not.” I know he is right, but I prefer my spiritual explanation.

            Recently my wife persuaded me to subscribe to the Smithsonian magazine. So far, we like it. Where else can you read about the fight to save the dwindling herd of North America’s elephants, or learn what anthropologists now believe about those strange creatures called the Neanderthals?

            One of my favorites is the Focus on the Family magazine produced by Dr. James Dobson. Dobson has done more to help families learn to live God’s way than any other person during my lifetime. I admire so much his continuing effort to strengthen Christian family living in America.

            The Auburn Magazine is another favorite of mine. Michael Jernigan does a terrific job as the editor. The spring issue includes a timely article on the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

            The comments by James Hansen are most inspiring: “The Greatest tragedy would be failing to move on.” Hansen, a professor of history at Auburn, is now the official biographer for Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. I can hardly wait to read his book.

            After a week or so exploring my magazines, I turned to a novel given me by my sisters, Neva and Margie, the day after my surgery. It is another book by one of my favorite writers, John Grisham, titled The King of Torts. Last summer I read The Testament by Grisham, and to me, it is the best of all his books.

            Actually, I hate Grisham’s books. Once you begin reading one, it is almost impossible to put it down. He has a way of hooking me and making me want to stay with him until “the big ending” occurs. I expect to finish the book by this weekend.

            Recently I was just as hooked by David McCullough who wrote the marvelous biography, John Adams. This book stirred my soul deeply with new appreciation for the remarkable life of this leader of the American Revolution who served as the second President of the United States.

            One of the next books I am turning to is The Name, by Franklin Graham.  This son of the famous Billy Graham is making a name for himself as leader of Samaritan’s Purse and his father’s evangelistic association. But in this book, he explores the significance of the Name that is above all names, Jesus Christ.

            There is so much to learn, and so many sources of great insight and inspiration. What a great treasure are our books!

            So, as my recovery moves forward, an inch at a time, I am thankful for the difference that reading can make in the great scheme of things. + + + +