Henry took pleasure in the rhythm of the glider and making it move with the small efforts his worn body could make. He could press a button and the contraption would do the work for him, but Henry was weary of machines and contraptions. He favored the old ways. It looked different than the gliders of his Mama’s day. Shiny. What was this fabric anyway? Not the natural stuff Henry preferred.
Forward…and back and Henry’s thoughts moved back and forth over time in cadence with the chair. They left him mostly alone with his thoughts around here anyhow, except for the routinely scheduled checks on his medicines and his food intake. And they only did that as a token confirmation of what the monitoring equipment told them. Oh, there were a few that stopped to chat with Henry occasionally and he was much obliged to their kindness.
But, tomorrow was the day and he’d just as soon they’d forget it anyway. Not that it didn’t matter to Henry - because it did. November 22, 2063; he would be one hundred years old. He’d just rather mark it in his quiet manner and not with the noisy fuss that was the way around here for such occasions.
As the glider made its journey forward and back Henry remembered his 6th birthday, his Mama showing him a picture of a handsome man with a big smile.
“Henry, this here is President John F. Kennedy. Jack, they called ‘im. You were born on the same day, at nearly the same hour he was shot. And, they done bring his body to the same hospital where I was in the throes of bringin’ you into this world. Lord, have mercy! What a day that was! I can still almost hear the commotion!”
Mama laughed her deep, throaty laugh that always made Henry feel warm like he was bread fresh from the oven. He’d learned early on that Mama’s laugh was the exclamation on the end of many sentences and it could just as easily signify important as it could funny.
“Remember Henry Jack, you’s special. A special child if I ever did see one! Gonna do great things! Big things!”
But, despite the commotion surrounding his birth Henry was a quiet child taken to thinking and watching; pondering instead of prancing. At times his teachers suspected that he might be slow, but something always happened to shake them out of their assumptions. By the 4th grade the word had gotten around; quiet Henry was a genius. Bona fide, as Mama would say.
Expectations. That was the year Henry learned what the word meant, by definition and in life. You see, Henry was a genius and all, but he reveled in the beauty of nature not the science of it. There was a field behind Mama’s house that ran alongside Sweet Grass River. Now, mind you, that’s not the real name of the little stream, but that’s what he and Mama called it.
After school, Henry would wander through those fields and not once ponder the chemical composition of a butterfly or the cell structure of a tree. He would simply revel in the colors, the textures, the smells and the way it made him feel. When he went to the field he took to sneaking a drawing pad and some colored pencil stubs that he’d found in the junk drawer in the kitchen. And there – quiet Henry spoke his peace – on paper.
Henry grew up and did the great things expected of him and even learned to enjoy it at times. PhD, Biology Research at the University of Texas, esteemed man of honor. He never married. It wasn’t about not wanting to, he just quickly realized that when he was finished doing what he was expected to do, he only had time enough left in a day to do what he loved, even needed, to do – create ethereal scenes of God’s creation and bring them to life with a brush and a prayer.
Henry created masterpieces beyond what most would ever dream possible, but no one ever saw them – no one. No one except the One he made them for and for Henry, that was more than enough. Henry worshiped with his ability - and God said it was good.
November 22, 2063, just past midnight in his glider, Henry finished his last breath and entered into the canvas of the Great Master. Paintbrush in hand and bound for home.
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