Tuesday, March 3, 2009
A Good Man is Hard to Find
Henry is my oldest boy and sort of my oldest child given that Sophie isn't really "older" than he in anything but age. Sophie will be fourteen this week -- good Lord -- so today Henry and I went shopping for a present to give her. From him. Henry's relationship to Sophie is something to marvel. While he goes through long periods when he doesn't pay much attention to her (normal, I suppose for a ten year old boy with a sister), he never fails to greet her in the morning and say good-night to her before bed. Henry has a sunny disposition -- really, there's no better word to describe him. He was born filled with joy and hope and, well, sun. He has a broad, freckled face and a broad, easy smile. He wishes on dandelions and birthday candles that Sophie could talk. He throws pennies into fountains and wishes that Sophie could talk. When he went to Catholic school, he prayed that she would talk. I'm certain that when he prays for her now, he prays that she would talk.
But back to shopping for Sophie's birthday present. We found a thin little necklace, a strand of pink string with a tiny angel bust at the center made of gold. It was a "wish necklace," meant to be wished upon and worn until it wears out.
Henry said How can Sophie wish for something when she doesn't talk?
I said You can help her to wish for something.
He said I'm going to wish that she could talk.
Later, riding home from basketball practice, he showed me that he has a loose tooth. He hasn't had a loose tooth in a long time and felt pretty excited about it. I asked him whether he hoped the tooth fairy would come when it fell out, but I said it sort of jokingly, assuming that he still didn't believe in such things. (I mean, really, how do they believe in a tooth fairy to begin with?). Henry then told me that he didn't think there was a tooth fairy and that I put money under their pillows when they lost a tooth. I didn't say anything but smiled. He looked over at me and said, "Do you?"
I guess this conversation all leads up to the incredible innocence that just about breaks my heart. As he walked from the bathroom to his bedroom, his hair wet from the shower, his legs long under his tee-shirt, he said good-night to me and gave me a kiss.
Has there ever been anyone who had seizures and talked? he asked. Or wait, has there ever been anyone who stopped having seizures and didn't talk?
Breaks my heart but in the good way -- breaks it to bursting.
As for the title, "A Good Man is Hard to Find" here's the relevance:
There's a new biography out about Flannery O'Connor and an interesting review of it at Salon (you can read it here).