When I was fourteen my sister Page made me an aunt.
He was this blond haired brown eyed chunk of a child. They named him Layton after our Papa Layton Jones, but I've always called him Tony. Lay-tony. You see.
Aside from my own blond haired brown eyed child and his sister, I have never loved a baby more than Layton. He was a constant source of joy in the midst of my torrential teenage years. I had to be tutored by Page in biology (science! my mystery!) which sent me to his house after school and I couldn't count down the hours fast enough. I was aware of everything he did because everything he did was magnified brillance.
One day Page brought him to our house and he had bandages all over his hands. He had crawled up on a heated radiator and was burned. That was the first day I remember my heart breaking. I couldn't stop thinking about his swaddled padded palms--his hands like two mitts on a cat--and what is was like for him to experience pain. I never wanted him to know pain. It was painful to even imagine.
And then they moved. To California. I never got over that.
He was sent to a school and placed in a gifted and talented program (of course! my boy!). He made friends with a boy who became his loyal companion. Through Layton this boy and his family came to know more about Mormons. Then they wanted to be Mormons and were baptized.
And then they moved again. Back to Utah. I was so happy.
And when Tony was the exact age I was when he was born we took a trip to Europe together. London and Paris. We studied all the art we could find and ate all the cheese pizza he wanted. I realized he was growing up to be far more intelligent than I had planned on.
And soon we were swapping books. Siddhartha, in particular, for it's universal truths and teachings of transcendence from pain.
Pain is how fast time goes by.
Today my Tony goes off to Virginia. Off to college. We had our last meeting on Sunday while discussing On the Road to Heaven while he kicked around a soccer ball. We talked about the Mormon philosophy presented in that book. More universal truths.
I loved that book and it didn't surprise me, so did he.
I taught him everything I had.
*photo of me and Tony at Shakespeare & Co., Paris. 2007.