The Kite that Touched Heaven.
March 5, 2014
“Build a kite, just like Dad did.”
That was Timmy’s enthusiastic, happy, instantaneous response when his mom asked him what he wanted to do on this his eighth birthday.
“All right,” his mom responded, “we’ll do that.”
It was exactly one year ago, on Timmy’s seventh birthday, that Dad – Timothy – had shown Timmy and his mom – Tish – how to fashion a home-made kite.
Timothy had done it as a boy; now he was passing it on to his boy.
The way of it.
The joy of it.
Timothy carefully selected some sticks, laid them on the floor in the shape of a kite, cut slits into the ends of the sticks, eased twine through the slits and tightly, securely bound the twigs together into the kite’s framework.”
He shaped the kite’s cover with newspaper pages. He fastened the newspaper cover on the framework with paste he made from flour and water. He made the kite’s tail from strips cut from an old bed sheet.
“There, that should do it,” Dad said, pronouncing the kite complete.
“We’ll let it dry a little while, then go and try ‘er out.”
Dad held the kite above his head and ran with it, up the field, then down the field, behind the house. Timmy held the kite tail above his head and ran along behind Dad. Tish ran along behind the two of them, clapping and cheering.
Relishing seeing her two “men” at play.
The kite was stubborn. It would pretend to get airborne, then fall to the ground.
Time after time, it did that.
Time after time, the kite refused to cooperate.
Time after time, Dad said, “We’ll get ‘er going. We’ll get ‘er going. Just you wait and see.”
The kite rose into the air, maybe 15 or 20 feet. It dipped, it swayed, it nosed downward as if it wasn’t going to go after all.
The wind picked up a little.
Dad dipped and pulled on the twine connected to the kite, slowly but surely maneuvering the kite upward.
Eventually, the kite was into the air.
Moving ever upward.
“It’s going up to touch Heaven,” Dad told Timmy.
After a while, Dad handed the controlling twine to Timmy.
“You fly it,” Dad told Timmy.
Gleefully, Timmy took hold of the twine.
Timmy, Dad, Tish spent the remainder of the afternoon flying the kite on Timmy’s seventh birthday.
Then they went out for birthday pizza.
About a month after that happy day, Dad was killed in a car crash.
Timmy and Tish were sad. They cried a lot.
Neither had any interest in doing anything.
Sometimes, they could hear each other sobbing in the middle of the night.
Days were sad.
Nights were sad.
They didn’t smile.
They didn’t laugh.
So Tish was heartened here on Timmy’s eighth birthday to hear him say he wanted to build and fly a kite, just as Dad had taught him – them –on Timmy’s seventh birthday.
They got down on the floor with sticks, old newspapers, twine, strips of a worn sheet and flour and water paste and made a kite.
Just as Dad had done.
When the paste had dried, Timmy’s mom said, “Let’s go fly it. Now!”
Timmy responded, “Wait a sec, Mom.”
He got a small piece of paper, scribbled something on it, asked his mom to tie it securely to one of the kite’s framework sticks.”
“What does your note say, Timmy?”
“It’s a secret. Tell you later.”
They took the kite outside and, after more than a few false starts, persuaded the kite to lift into the sky.
Up, up, up.
Up to touch Heaven, just as Dad had said.
Just as Dad had done.
After a while, the wind calmed, so the kite started drifting and falling, finally settling on a limb atop a hackberry tree.
Timmy and his mom yanked and pulled on the string to try to free the kite, but to no avail. The kite was stuck high in the tree.
“Maybe the wind will pick up again and loosen the kite and it will come down,” Timmy’s mom told him.
“Maybe,” he agreed, hopefully.
“I think it will.”
Then the two of them went out for birthday pizza.
Next morning, Timmy bounded out of bed, rushed past his mom, saying he had to go check on the kite.
She smiled as she watched him race toward the hackberry tree.
The faster he ran, the more she smiled.
It was good, so wonderfully good, she thought, to see joy back in her boy again.
Timmy had been so downcast since his father died, she thought, it was encouraging to see his reclaimed excitement in this moment.
Timmy could tell before he got to the hackberry the kite was gone.
He alternately ran and walked all about the tree.
No sign of the kite.
“Yes!” Timmy said out loud.
“I knew it would.
“I knew it would.
“The note on the kite got there.”
Timmy told himself the wind had picked up during the night, that the kite had broken free from the tree and – just as his dad had said – gone up to touch Heaven.
Timmy raced back toward the house, where his mom was now standing outside, smiling, shedding tears of joy in response to the exuberant, widening smile she saw on Timmy’s face as he — running step by running step — got ever closer to her.
Tish couldn’t remember when she had last smiled like that.
“I gotta tell Mom,” Timmy said to himself as he ran toward his mother.
“I gotta go tell Mom.”
“Tell her what I put in the secret note.”
The one tied to the kite that touched Heaven, the one that said:
“Dear Jesus, please help Mom smile again.”
Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He is the author of The Day Camelot Came to Town and Heart Songs From a Washboard Road. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please click the book cover image to read more about the short story collection of Roger Summers, Heart Songs from a Washboard Road.