Looking Forward to June



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Catching Up & Reading Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë

To skip the personal info, drop down to paragraph 4.

Last evening I returned home from a ten-day trip to Boston. My mother was diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago, and my brother and I zoomed in to visit lots of doctors, hear lots of opinions, do some of our own research, and, finally, with my mother's input, come up with a plan. A "big surgery" was a possibility, but all of our research and my mom's wishes ran counter to surgery as an option.

On December 7, Mom will be 91. She has had an extraordinarily healthy and productive life, and we all wish for that to continue, without interruption, for as long as it's possible. As she herself said, "A huge surgery? What would be the point of that?"

The miracle in all of this is that my brother and I, who have always been at thunderous loggerheads, found ourselves having not a moment of controversy or ill will between us. We were in immediate, mutual agreement about what we wished for our mother. We spent time together and healed some wounds, and the miracle is, we didn't have to work at it. It all seemed to drop down on us out of nowhere, perhaps because deep down we both knew we needed it to move forward. And in our togetherness, we were able to fully support our mother. It seemed like magic to me and I'm grateful.

I was not able to read at all for a number of days, but when I latched onto Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë several days ago, I've been reading and enjoying it ever since. I'm two-thirds of the way through as of this evening. I'm reading it on the Kindle, and I must admit I was originally drawn to it because it's a relatively short novel.

I heartily agree with critics who say that Agnes Grey is reminiscent of Austen's novels in its depiction of English village society and romance among the gentry. I find Anne Bronte's acute and sometimes satirical characterizations highly entertaining. And, as a governess herself of some years, Anne knew fully the strait-jacketed role she had to play between the offspring she was supposed to instruct and the parents in the homes where she was employed.  Highly recommended!

8 comments:

  1. Judith, I'm so sorry about the cancer, glad about you and your brother and the long life your mom has been blessed with. My mom just passed a month ago at 87. And like you and your brother, the tragedy did open avenues for healing for me and one of my sons. There's always blessings if we look for them. It's a difficult thing losing your mom. I'm glad you have your brother to go through this with you. Thoughts and prayers coming your way.

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    1. Peggy Ann,
      I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. Yes, indeed, the loss of a mother is a huge passage in life, which I now realize more fully than I expected. My mother is so delighted that my brother and I shared three wonderful evenings together during our time in Boston. I'm so glad that you have experienced greater closeness with your son. That is truly a blessing.
      Thank you for responding,
      Judith

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  2. Judith - I'm very sorry to hear about these latest developments. As Peggy said, I've also found this kind of sorrow often opens other avenues for healing and blessings. My thoughts and prayers are also with you.

    I'm happy to hear about your experience with Agnes Grey. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was an unexpected treasure for me a couple of years ago and I've been wanting to read more of Anne ever since. Cannot figure out why she is the lesser Bronte...

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    1. JoAnn,
      I'm so glad that you've experienced grief mixed with positive developments. I was not expecting it, not in the slightest. And that makes it all the more like a gift.

      You know, I have the Penguin paperback of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and need to get to it. I was browsing through my copy of the humungous biography of all the Brontes, and it seems that Charlotte suppressed the publication of Anne's writings. According to her biographer, which I must name for you asap, Charlotte was at odds with Anne's "preoccupations" and concerns with religious matters, and thought they were not like her "true" sister, so, with that justification, tried to prevent their reprintings as well as their publications. Interesting!
      I thought Agnes Grey was quite an accomplishment for a debut novelist. The ending is just a bit awkward and uncomfortable, but otherwise, if she had had the encouragement, who knows what she might have produced? I will read The Tenant...
      Best, Judith

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  3. I'm so glad that the three of you are in agreement and that your mother will be spared a huge operation at her age. She has had a great innings and it's just sad that she wasn't able to just sleep away peacefully, without this diagnosis. She did a great thing - passing on her love of books to you, as well as many other things too I'm sure. It must have been great for her to see you and your brother getting on well.

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    1. Katrina,
      Thank you for your thoughts! Yes, Mom did bask in the light of watching my brother and me get along so harmoniously. She's feeling rather well at this point, which is so wonderful, though I don't know for how much longer that will continue. I worry, but every good day is a victory. I appreciate so much your thoughts.
      Judith

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  4. It's so easy to get caught up in the medical machine. My 80-year-old father was rushed into having surgery for a very slow growing cancer which probably wouldn't have been what killed him. The after effects of the surgery ruined his quality of life for the last eight years. My sister and I weren't in agreement at all about either of our parents' illnesses and treatments, but, unfortunately, she had their health care proxy. Good luck to you all.

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    1. Dear Joan,
      My heart goes out to you. I'm so sorry that you and your father had to endure this. And it must be so unendurably difficult when one has such a major disagreement with a sibling.
      I'm so sorry I've been so long in responding. I hope that you feel at peace now with your beautiful animals.
      Judith

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