Article

Son of a Nerd

conversations with hank

 

(over dinner)

Hank: Mama?

Me: (chewing) Hum?

Hank: What is the meaning of life?

Me: 42

Hank: No mama, I’m serious.

Me: The meaning of life is: 42.

Hank: Mama.

Me: Seriously.

Hank: The meaning of life cannot be 42.

Me: But it is.

Hank: But what does that even mean?

Me: That is not for me to tell you. You asked me the meaning of life and the answer to that question is and forever will be 42.

Hank: (frustrated sigh)

Me: Listen, all you need to remember is: Don’t panic, Don’t forget your towel and the meaning of life is 42.

Hank: But that doesn’t make any sense! How can the meaning of life be a number?

Me: Because it is.

Pai: It is in a book that you will read one day.

Me: (smiling, chewing)

Hank: I thought you would say happiness or kindness or chocolate.

Me: All good things, but not the meaning of life.

Hank: Don’t even say it. Do not say it again.

Me:

Pai:

Molly: (growling at a spoon)

Me: 42.

Hank: STOP IT!

Me: You started it.

Hank: I am finishing it.

Me: Ok.

Hank: OK.

 

 

Article

Character and Life

conversations with hank

 

Me: How was your dreaming, Hank?

Hank: I didn’t do very much dreaming more thinking really.

Me: Oh?

Hank: Mama, this weekend can I go with you to buy a nice black pen? Like the ones you use for your drawing? I will use my own money.

Me: Sure. Do you have something in mind?

Hank: Remember I told you about the ilustradora (illustrator) who came to our school yesterday?

Me: I do.

Hank: She was so wonderful. She drew us this amazing castle made of cupcakes. She told us that we needed to add character and life to our drawings.

Me: (heart full to the brim) She is exactly right. You know how I tell you that every house needs a tree and some flowers to be happy?

Hank: You tell me that all the time.

Me: (smiling) That is adding character and life. You need to give your drawings details and personality. None of this leaving a house to float on a white page.

Hank: Oh, like that day you needed draw things for the fairy girl?

Me: (reviewing my memory banks)

Hank: Remember, I drew a girl and didn’t like how she looked. I wanted to start over, but you…

Me: Yes, I had to give her a world to live in because it I was much too sad to leave her alone on a white page with nothing. She needed…

Hank: … Character and life. I understand you better now.

Me: There is a papelaira (stationary shop) on the way to the gardens. Let’s pop in there and get you a nice new inking pen and you can sit at the picnic tables and work while I plant my carrots, beets and beans.

Hank: That is my exact thinking. (pause) I have so many drawings thinking up my head it is getting crowded.

Me: (from a hug) Then let’s set them free.

Article

Filling in the Gaps

conversations with hank

 

Me: Are you all ready for tucking deep in that bed?

Hank: Almost. I need more Molly snuggles.

Me: (handing over the baby)

Molly: (beaming at her brother’s love)

Hank: Mama, this cream you put on Molly before she goes to bed…

Me: It’s the same cream I used with you when you were a baby.

Hank: When I smell Molly this smell always makes me think of Josita (family friend) and her house and makes me love her.

Me: I love her, too. So much.

Hank: And I love her house.

Me: You love her house because she lives in it and therefore it is very special.

Hank: Yes.

Me: And her garden and the pond and the lake (Michigan) down the road.

Hank: And we lived there for a little bit, too.

Me: We did.

Hank: And I slept in the closet.

Me: You were three and fit perfectly in this little closet in our room. So I made you a little nest and you slept there so happily. So much so that you still remember it today.

Hank: Why did we live there? Did papa work at Josita’s University?

Me: No, although papa worked very hard when we were there. Before we moved to Portugal we needed to stay with friends for two months.

Hank: Why didn’t we just stay at our house?

Me: That is a very good question. We lived in a college town, just like Guimarães, and in a college town the houses are rented to go along with the school schedule, August-August. We moved to Portugal in October so we had to leave our house and find places to stay for the last two months.

Hank: And that is why we lived with Megumi and Shing and Chiwa before Miwa was born and Josita?

Me: Exactly. Yup. August with Megumi and Shing (family friends) and September with Josita.

Hank: (hugging Molly close) Now, I understand my memories.

Me: Some of my happiest memories are from those two months with our dear friends.  So many things happened in that short time.  It was beautiful and also very challenging.  (smiling) This is your life’s story. I am happy you care to know all the details.

Hank: I like the details the best.