09:24:39 pm on
Wednesday 19 Feb 2020

Regarding Henri
AJ Robinson

We’re a week into 2020 and current major news stories could fill a newspaper or a website. Yet, this being my first column of the year, I’m not going to talk about the plethora of events out there. No, I’m going to go personal and look inward.


That’s the custom.

With January, we get personal and look forward. I’ve written of that exact aspect of this timeframe. It’s a time to pause and reflect, look back and look forward.

As the first fell on a Wednesday, I took Thursday and Friday off. We, my wife, Jo Ann, and I, went to Naples to visit family. Cruising down I-75, in Florida, the reflecting began and I smiled.

As we past Sun City Center, the retirement community, I thought of my dad. As a teen, every summer, once I was done with school, we’d drive north to go to Martha’s Vineyard. When we’d pass Sun City, I’d say something along the lines of, “There it is, Dad, your future home. One of these days, I’ll call the paddy wagon and have you hauled off to there. You’ll love it, the moat full of alligators, the compulsory Bingo and they lock the gates at sundown.”

We’d laugh and continue on our way. Passing through Venice, the town of my teen and young adult years, I thought of Steve, my brother. Why he should pop into my mind, at that moment, I don’t know and the funny thing was I didn’t picture him as he was at the end of his life, but as a child and teen.

That was truly weird. I did not know Steve at that age. Yet, again, I smiled. I knew how much he loved the water, sailing, searching for shark teeth and drinking those colourful tall drinks by the pool. Yeah, he enjoyed going on vacation, it made him feel young and Venice was a nice little vacation spot.

As we zipped through North Port and Port Charlotte, we reminisced about when we lived there, family and friends we had there and, then, something truly touching happened. The song “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” came on the radio. It was theme song for Ralph, father of Jo Ann, when he was a little boy playing the piano, as his family name, de la Osa, means “of the Bear”


Parental pride.

Thus, it seemed an appropriate song to use when he performed. We got to talking about him. Jo Ann spoke of how we’d just fixed a light switch in our new townhome. Her dad would have been proud of her.

Yes, she’s an electrician’s daughter. Then her tone grew sad as she thought about some of the other tasks we had to do about the house and how her first instinct was to call her dad or brother Daniel for advice. She couldn’t, as they’re both gone.

Arriving in Naples, we drove to the home of my mother; she was overjoyed to see id. She looked good. She looked great for 94 years of age.

Considering her recent health scares and other troubles as well as her age, my mother was fantastic. We settled, recovered from our drive and eventually found ourselves at the home of my brother Greg. This was where the “looking forward” portion of the “festivities” commenced.

My niece Jenni came over with her son Henri. Yes, you read that right: Jenni and Henri. They decided to be creative in their spelling; Henri is French for Henry. Anyway, at nine months, he’s as cute as a button and loves to crawl like a soldier wading through a swamp. Quite the fast little Henri, it’s clear he’s going to walk soon.

Not long after Jenni and Henri arrived, Christina showed up with Sarah and Jack, her two little ones. Now the house rang with the chatter of small yet high-pitched voices. Sarah is getting so big, she’s now in school; Jack is out of diapers and in preschool. They grow so fast.

Sitting there, looking at Henri, his smiling face the spitting image of his momma, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. Here was the next generation. Born in this new century, he and his contemporaries that would deal with the world we are leaving for them.

For a moment, I almost used the word building in that last sentence, but it didn’t seem appropriate; we’re not building a world for them. We’re not building a better tomorrow for our heirs. No, given Climate Change, the rise of authoritarian nationalism, unbelievable hate, spiraling national debt and trouble overseas, I truly fret what they will face in their lives.


As his uncle I did my best.

Hence, the name of this article is Regarding Henri. Sitting in living room, looking into that tiny happy smiling face, I spent a good deal of time regarding Henri. I was hard-pressed to smile back. Yet, as his loving uncle, I did my best.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

More by AJ Robinson:
Tell a Friend

Click above to tell a friend about this article.