Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pink Hats 26: Jessie and Atticus Finch

Screenshot of To Kill a Mockingbird(an America...Image via WikipediaIf you were to ask, Jessie would say she strongly suspected Harper Lee of being a neighbor when she was growing up because Atticus Finch was so like her father, the resemblance couldn't be coincidental. It just seemed that way when she saw Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird on television as a teenager and checked the book out of the school library the next day. It wasn't a physical resemblance, though both Peck and her father were tall and parted their hair on the right. It was his way with his children, Scout and Jem. That, coupled with the fact it was one of her father's favorite novels and he was fond of quoting it.

"Courage isn't a man with a gun in his hand," he said,
often enough that she knew the words by heart long before she found out Atticus had said them first, "It's knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do." It must have been courage, she thought, that saw him through raising a son and two daughters alone. They had aunts and uncles and some lived close by, but for the most part, as with most families most of the time, it was him and the children. He wasn't perfect -- no one is, not even Atticus Finch -- but he raised his children respecting them and he taught them to respect themselves.
She loved the hymn, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hid myself in thee, her mother sang as a lullaby, and after she was gone, Jessie imagined it was written about her father. Stable sprang to mind when she thought about him. He was firm and level and reliable when our world was rocked to the core. He showed us how to survive our grief.

She felt the same way about Bob. He was solid, too, solid and stable. He'd come through his own grief without bitterness and he loved so freely. As she got to know his friends, some going back to medical school, she saw reflected in their faces a man who'd rather die than let any of them down. One, a member of the hospital janitorial staff, said of him, "He doesn't think he's better than anyone else." And it was true, he didn't. She knew he would be there for the twins and their own children, as would she, and they'd be there for each other. Theirs was a relationship between equals.

She was watching him, asleep next to her on the couch, his collar unbuttoned, his tie loosened and straying off to his side. He'd thrown one arm over his eyes and draped the other around her. Now and then he'd release a soft, low snore, and she smiled. Her thoughts wandered back to dinner, his proposal, walking along the streets at night, the drive home, falling asleep together with Sam. There was a quality of serenity about it all, a peacefulness she'd felt around people who were right for each other. And we have it, too.

She sighed and reached over, undoing a button midway down his chest and slid her hand beneath his shirt, feeling his heart beat. "You have such a good heart, mister," she whispered, "it's why I love you so much. Your heart." She sighed again and he opened his eyes.

"Good Morning, Sunshine," she said.

(Public Domain image of Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch via Wikipedia)

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