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  • Debra Berry

Ask for the Perfect Words


A few years ago, my grandson, Henry, was in preschool. On day one-hundred of school, he and his classmates were asked to dress as an old person.


After school, my daughter called and told me Henry was very upset and asked if I would talk with him. “Of course,” I replied.


“Hi Henry. Mom said you were upset. Tell me what happened at school today,” I said.


“I don’t want to get old and die,” replied Henry.


If you know me, you know I like to talk and can ramble on for a good long time, however every now and then, I find myself at a loss for words. This was one of those times. “Dear God, please give me the words to share with this frightened little boy,” I begged.


Suddenly, I heard myself saying, “Well Henry, remember when your family called you Baby Henry, and now they call you Big Boy Henry?”


“Yes,” Henry said.


“Soon, you will be Schoolboy Henry,“ I replied. “We grow and our bodies change every day. That’s a good thing,” I said. “If that did not happen you would still be Baby Henry. Someday we all die. I hope that is a long time away for both of us, besides we still have a lot of things to do, places to go, and people to meet before we die. And, by the way, before I die, I want to have my 100th Birthday Party,” I told him.

Henry listened intently to me as I attempted to make him feel safe and comfortable with aging and death and a way a four year old could understand. Almost immediately, Henry replied, “There will need to be invitations. I’ll make them for you.” And just as quickly, our conversation ended, and he told his mom he was off on his next adventure.


Henry and I share the same birth date. In a few weeks, he will be seven, and I will be seventy. We both still have things to do, places to go, and people to meet. Henry still asks some challenging questions, and I still find myself at a loss for words at times. But, one thing I have learned, God always gives me the perfect words when I remember to ask, and the words that flowed through me on this day seemed perfect for Henry.









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