A Boy and His PlaneMy boy...My sweet, innocent boy thing...
Late September, it was a beautiful Indian summer evening, and we were enjoying the sunset on our patio, Lar and I with our beers, the kids with their juice boxes, when my boy decided to make a paper airplane out of the "note" he "wrote" to his grandma -- a get-well note, I assumed, for my mother.
Lar dutifully folded the scribbled loose leaf into a respectable approximation of a DC-10, and handed it over to the boy. The boy thanked my husband, then, solemnly, he cradled the paper plane in the crook of his little, fat arm, and noisily sucked down the last of his juice, after which he resumed doodling with his crayons. When the boy didn't attempt a test flight, I asked him why.
"Why aren't you flying your plane, Brandon?"
"I don't want to ruin it."
"Ruin it? Oh, you won't ruin it, honey. And even if it does get a little beat up, Daddy will fix it for you, no problem."
"It's a letter to Grandma."
"Yes, I know, Brandon. She's going to love it! I'll give it to her when I visit her in the hospital tomorrow."
"No, Mommy, not that grandma! It's for the grandma that makes cookies!"
Puzzled, I asked him why he wrote a note to Grandma Howe (my paternal grandmother who passed away last January) on a paper airplane.
"Because, Mommy, the airplane will fly up to heaven tonight, and Grandma will read it, and then she will make cookies for the angels."
Well, I don't have to tell you just how touched I was. Also, I was a bit surprised that all of this was going on inside his darling head. After all, my grandmother died last January, a grandmother that my son had only seen but a handful of times during his four years on earth, and her death hadn't been discussed since.
That night, after the boy went to bed, I retrieved the paper airplane from its take-off spot, a block of wood set on the patio table, and put it in my keepsake box.
The next morning, soon as my boy woke, he promptly ran out to the patio. I knew what he was looking for. I smiled to myself when he excitedly ran back into the house, shrieking about how the heaven-bound plane had reached its destination.
"Do you think Grandma Howe read my letter yet?"
Well, of course she had. And she was baking cookies even as we speak.
Get this, then: The other morning as I was readying the boy for school, he stated that he was on another letter-writing mission, only this letter would be for Nici.
He said, "I want Nici to go see Grandma Howe and make cookies with her. Would she like that, Mommy?"
My throat closed up, and I thought my heart would burst, but I managed to assure him that Nici would indeed like that. Very much so.
Flight leaves tonight.