First Boyfriend

My Dearest Granddaughter,

first_loveWhen I was ten years old, I had my first boyfriend.  He lived behind us, down the hill and his name was “Perry.”  He was two years older than I and had a disease called “Cerebral Palsy.”  He was born with this and his muscles and bones did not work the way they should.  His mother lovingly put steel braces on his legs each morning and helped him to walk.  Usually the first place he walked to was my house.

He was able to speak quite well and he was very smart.  The sadness about this condition is that the person is kind of a prisoner in his own body.  In other words, what he thinks is hard to carry out physically.  But somehow I saw past this and liked him very much.  I remember one day on the playground he tried to run and catch me to kiss me and he stumbled. We were actually able to laugh about this as I helped him up.

We continued this special friendship until my family moved away when I was eleven.  He cried when he waved goodbye and we both knew we probably would never see each other again.  And . . . we didn’t.

Many years later, when Papa H and I were married, he attended a class downtown at the community college.  In those days, he smoked cigarettes and left the classroom with all the other smokers on break one night.  The man smoking next to him wore steel braces and was quite limited in his movements.  They started to talk as they smoked together.

Chatting about this and that, the subject of being married, kids and jobs came up. Papa told his story about how he was married to me and the man listened.  With tears in his eyes, he blurted out, “I knew your wife!”  Of course, this was startling information to your grandfather.  As the moments went by, this man shared his memories of a girl he had loved.  He said his name was “Perry” and he had Cerebral Palsy.  Hmmm . . .

Before they finished talking, he expressed his gratitude about how I had loved him and given him hope!  Needless to say, this was a surprising ending to a cigarette break.  I still feel touched by his words.

The important point of this story is to highlight how kindness, hope and love work together.  I pray that this makes an impression on you, my sweetness, because even years after a kind expression to another person, that person can remember how he/she felt.  That is essential in our lives.  Feelings can make us believe in something that might seem impossible.  I am glad I was part of that “love story.”

Here’s to your first love . . .

Mamie