Since the death of their Great-Grandfather (and the arrival
of Wii's Boom Blox, a Spielberg-designed game in which you can choose little
Grim Reapers, what Ewan calls "the living dead," as characters) the boys have
been fascinated with death. Being children, they talk about it in the frankest
of terms; ways of speaking that adults tip-toe and whisper around. Kids are
frank because they're innocent. We call them "naïve" because we're cynics. When
you're young that forthrightness stems from innocence. When you're old, you're
forthright because you realize that living with sugar-coating and dishonesty are worse than the repercussions from being outright.
We were on our way to have lunch with the boys'
Great-Grandmother, Chris's Grandma, and Chris was lecturing Liam on how he
shouldn't bring up Great-Grandpa's death. The last time we talked to him it was
right before a phone call to Great-Grandma and we instructed him to not mention
it. He got on the phone and was all "Hi Great-Grandma. Hey, I'm real sorry
about YOU KNOW WHAT, you know, about YOU KNOW WHO dyin' an all? But I'm not
supposed to talk to you about that because Mom and Dad don't want me to." Chris
and I would've grabbed him and shook the phone away but we were driving, belted
in our seats, so the worst we could do was to mime idle threats from the front
So we're in the van, on our way to lunch and we're involved
in the same "don't talk about death and dying, please, dear God, just don't,
we're really serious this time" conversation.
"Don't even mention it," barked Chris. "None of the dying
"Why?" Liam asked.
"Because Great-Grandma is still upset. Her husband isn't
"Well Dad, you know, he's always with us."
"You're right, Bub," Chris replied, realizing that he had
just been owned by a seven-year-old.
I looked at Chris; he looked at me, both of us with incredulous expressions. I turned around to look at Liam in his booster seat, his spindly legs and feet still half-a-foot from the floor. He stared out of his window at the traffic zooming past in the opposite direction.