Sometime last month, Tex arrived on our porch talking about “this writer, Irene Latham” who visited his school to talk about books. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I exclaimed that Irene was a friend of mine and that I loved her books more than just about anything! Tex was grinning and telling me that he knew all about Leaving Gee’s Bend and Don’t Feed the Boy, and was just overflowing with the pride of him knowing me, and me knowing a famous author like Irene, and all of us knowing each other. Why, he was just pacing the porch with all that pride. And then, when I asked him which of Irene’s books did he think he would like to read most, he bashfully told me that he’d really like to have Leaving Gee’s Bend, but that he didn’t have the money to get a copy of it.
The very next day, I emailed Irene, who set about making sure that Tex received a copy of Leaving Gee’s Bend with a personal inscription from her to him (Irene has known about Tex for some time, basically since his “one way mirror suit” comments from last summer).
So, after a hand-delivery of the book by Irene to a mutual friend, and then a hand-delivery of said book to me by said mutual friend, I was able to give the gift to Tex a couple of nights ago. He was beside himself when I handed him the book-shaped package marked TEX, the package that I told him was from Irene. And rocking from one foot to the other with excitement, he proceeded to try to cut open the wrapping with a knife. I stopped him as gently as I could and offered to open it for him, lest he cut the book jacket or himself in his glee. Once unwrapped and in his hands, the book was turned over and over as if he couldn’t believe that Irene had sent him, HIM, a book. And when he opened the book up to the title page where Irene had penned a personal message to him, he just about lost his Kool Aid.
“But how did she know my real name?!?” My response was, “Well, I told her your real name.” Then he laid himself down on our chaise lounge (the one he always acts like he owns) and proceeded to read silently from Leaving Gee’s Bend. And when he finally decided to get up and go play with the other kids swarming around the neighborhood, he started to take the book with him. Again, I gently stopped him and suggested that he leave his book on our porch while he played, because the kind of playing he does is probably not good for books. So, he put the book gently down on the piano bench which serves as our porch table and asked if it was okay that he left it there for awhile. Of course it was okay.
Tex ran off to play, looking back over his shoulder to make sure the book was still there. Five minutes later I spied out the window to see that the book and Tex were gone. I think his mind was too crowded with thoughts of Leaving Gee’s Bend for him to concentrate properly on playing that night.
I'm sure this story is to be continued...