conversations with hank


Me: Well hello, Mr. H.J.H Pereira.

Hank: Hello, Mama McGoo.

Me: How was your day? Do tell me everything and when you get to the end, stop.

Hank: (deep sigh) My day was good. So many things to tell you. (dropping his book bag on the table, opening it) First, I got this book from the library. I am excited to read it. It is poems about jardim de infância (kindergarten). It is a whole story told one poem at a time.

Me: You love poems.

Hank: I do. There is a whole world in a poem. And today while we were outside at the second intervalo (recess) it started raining a little bit so we started walking backed to the covered areas in the rua (playground) and then, I have never seen this before in my life, it was only raining a little tiny bit. How do you call that, mama?

Me: Sprinkling, we call that sprinkling in English.

Hank: Yes, it was sprinkling, but then all of a sudden it was like WHOOSH and buckets of water fell out of the sky all at once…

Me: That is called pouring rain.

Hank: Yes, it was pouring and some kids were still by the campo (natural area of the playground) and they were soaked by the time they got under cover. It was amazing.

Me: Did you get soaked?

Hank: Nope. I was lucky. Then I had swimming school which was great (deep sigh) but… I think I am overworked. Isn’t that what you and papa say? I am so very tired because I did everything and everything was a little bit much.

Me: (roaring with laughter, pulling him into a big hug) That is exactly what overworked feels like.

Hank: I feel good that I got all the things done, but after I do my homework I just need to fall on the couch with my sister and rest. Is that okay?

Me: Perfectly.

Hank: Do you need any help with anything? I will need to help you now because after my homework I will be no help to anyone.

Me: (giggling) No, thank you. I have everything under control.

Hank: (yawning, nodding, opening his notebook)

Me: (beaming with pride)



The Mighty

conversations with hank for The Mighty


Me: Hank?

Hank: Yes, my mama?

Me: I was wondering if I could ask your opinion?

Hank: Sure.

Me: An editor from the online community, The Mighty, read our conversation about you being scared of my maybe needing a wheelchair and about how it is important help to me and to help yourself to talk about my RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and AS (ankylosing spondylitis) .

Hank: That day when we cried and cried?

Me: Yup.  Well, she was wondering if we would be interested in sharing that conversation with their readers to see if we could help other moms and kids going through the same things we are.

Hank: I like that idea.

Me: Here is where I need your opinion.  The Mighty needs a image to go along with the article and the editor I am speaking with wants to know if I can send her a photo of us, but your papa and I don’t want your image on the internet.

Hank: I do not want to be famous.  I don’t want people looking at me more than they already do, because of my hair and my eyes.

Me: I understand so what would you like to share?  We have the illustration Amy Davis made of us, which is great or you can draw a picture for the article, one like you used to draw before you started your abstract, rorschach period.  A drawing about conversations with your mama and how they are important and special.

Hank: (leaving the room, calling over his shoulder) I know exactly what to draw.  I will be back.  I love you.

Me: (smiling)


Special thanks to The Mighty for showcasing our conversation.  I do hope it helps other parents and loved ones talk about illness and disease and stop trying to hide their pain and fear.


Tess Asplund


Tess Asplund against 300 Neo-Nazis


Hank: Mama, why are you crying?

Me: (sitting behind my computer, sniffling) Because it is genetic. I am quick to cry from outrage, anger, joy, laughing… My cousin Becca has this too, it runs in the family and your papa was so excited to learn that it wasn’t just me when Becca came to visit and was crying every ten minutes for random reasons. (sigh) I wear my heart of my sleeve like a big red stain, as the great Dorothy Parker so well said.

Hank: I know this, but why are your crying now?

Me: Oh, well because of this woman, Tess Asplund, she is a hero.

Hank: (coming around to see what I am seeing)

Me: You see, these people here marching, they are under the misguided impression that the color of your skin and ancestry makes you superior to others.

Hank: That is… That is so stupid. That has nothing to do with a person.  Skin is just a shell for who you are on the inside. Color doesn’t matter.

Me: I totally agree, but unfortunately some people do not agree with us.

Hank: But that is not at all true at all.

Me: Hank, you cannot argue with crazy. Crazy only hears itself screaming louder than your voice. Crazy is built on fear and ignorance and it is only through long periods of calm, loving conversation and nurturing that you can crack through the shell of crazy enough to let the light in. And this woman, Tess Asplund, she stood against this crazy and these people the best way she could and I am crying because I am so proud of her bravery. There was another man as brave as Tess when I was very young and he stood up to a tank.

Hank: A tank? Like a war tank?

Me: Yes, and he was all he had, but he stood up to that tank, the physical representation of the war of oppression he was living under. No one knows who he was or what happened to him, but every time I want to fight for something I believe in I remember that man and now I can remember Tess.

Hank: Can we watch this video together? I want to know this Tess, too. She is a hero.

Me: Indeed.