CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter…
The caller ID on the house phone said IU. I picked it up. So did Helen. I heard a pleasant-sounding young man ask for Helen. Fine with me; I’m not much for talking on the phone, especially if people are asking for money. I was right. He was asking for money. Strangely, though, since he asked for Helen, he was a sports fund raiser.
I got to hear her side of a long and pleasant conversation. She acknowledged that we were sports fans but played the little old granny card, unable to buy tickets because we are no longer able to walk in from the parking lot in Nebraska to which they assigned us in the days we were able to go to games.
Then I heard her ask him if he had a grandmother. Apparently he said yes, for then she asked him if he emailed his grandmother regularly. He said that was difficult because she was 95, but that he called her once a week. [I got this later from Helen, of course.] She told him how important it was to his grandmother that he keep doing so. After a bit more talk about sports finance, Helen giving the young man a basic course in coach-speak, before she hung up she reminded him to keep calling his grandmother.
All this came about because two days previous, grandson Joe had emailed her. [It actually was to both of us, but she keeps saying, “He emailed me!” when she tells people about it.] He had discovered that the names Jerome and Hieronymus have the same root, with one name picked up by the Greeks, the others by the Dutch, with the Dutch getting the better deal. Apparently he intends to name all his children Hieronymus.
Joe has always felt that Grandma should be kept informed of arcane information. I recently found an entry in my journal, from when he was nine, noting that he had thrown up three times at school, once through his nose, and when his mother got him home, he insisted that she call Grandma and tell her, for “Through my nose!” was important for Grandma to know. He knew she would be interested. Also it was likely that such information would cause her to bake a cake for him to ease his suffering.
Now, though, Joe is a teen, and through his teen years, he has become quiet. Not silent, or secretive, although he has taken quite literally to “the Messianic secret” in the gospel of Mark, by growing his hair and beard out long so that he looks exactly like Jesus, at least the tall white Irish Jesus of the Sunday School papers.[ I don’t think it was his intention to look like Jesus, but that’s the way it turned out.]
Bing a teen boy, it is very rare for Joe to initiate contact, although he is quite pleasant, and always informative, when others start conversations. Sometimes Helen texts him, since teens actually look at and reply to texts, and asks him if he has time to talk on the phone that night. He always says yes, takes the call at the appointed time. They always have pleasant conversations, mostly Helen asking questions and Joe replying either “Good” or “Yes,” but he does also offer new bits of remote knowledge he has picked up.
Joe is busy. He is a senior and preparing for college. He plays tenor sax in all the school’s bands and ensembles. He is a letterman on the tennis team. I assume he must talk to teachers and classmates. At least if they speak first. But he’s not too busy to let us know about Jerome and Hieronymus.
Now some folks might think the common root of those names is unnecessary information. To certain people, it is the most important information ever.