On page 272 of Stephen King’s IT, we read the following about Mike Hanlon’s childhood:
“It was not all school and chores, chores and school; Will Hanlon had told his wife more than once that a boy needed time to go fishing, even if it wasn’t fishing he was really doing. When Mike came home from school he first put his books on the TV in the parlor, second made himself some kind of snack (he was particularly partial to peanut-butter-and-onion sandwiches, a taste that made his mother raise her hands in helpless horror), and third studied the note his father had left him, telling Mike where he, Will, was and what Mike’s chores were—certain rows to be weeded or picked, baskets to be carried, produce to be rotated, the barn to be swept, whatever. But at least one schoolday a week—and sometimes two—there would be no note. And on these days Mike would go fishing, even if it wasn’t really fishing he was going. Those were great days…days when he had no particular place to go and consequently felt no urge to get there in a hurry.”
I have two items from this passage:
1. I love the character of Will Hanlon. As far as this book goes, he is undoubtedly the best father character. Bill’s father is aloof on account of the death of Bill’s younger brother, Georgie. Beverly’s father is abusive, but he does have a tender, artistic side. Henry Bowers’ dad is psychotic. I actually liked Richie Tozer’s dad, Wentworth, because he’s funny and sarcastic (like Richie, only without the weird voices)—and I laughed at Wentworth playing hardball when he got Richie to mow the Tozers’ huge lawn for only two bucks, when Wentworth usually paid the Clark twins two dollars each for the same job. But, as Wentworth pointed out, Richie wanted money to see a couple of horror movies, and so Richie was in no position to bargain. He had to take the deal he was offered!
But I especially like Will Hanlon. You can probably get a sense of what he was like from the passage I quoted: he wanted his son to learn responsibility, but also to be a kid. And there are other passages in the book that are about his gentleness, openness, wisdom, and sense-of-humor as a father. It’s sad that he dies of cancer in the book.
2. I like the last line of the passage: “Those were great days…days when he had no particular place to go and consequently felt no urge to get there in a hurry.”
This reminds me of something that Rabbi Harold Kushner said in his book on Judaism, To Life: on the Sabbath, a day of rest, he takes off his wristwatch, for he doesn’t want to be pressed by time.
I enjoy the times when I can be at rest—when I don’t have to be in a hurry. Of course, not all of life can be like that, and I probably wouldn’t want for it to be, since I feel fulfilled by responsibilities and tasks to perform, for these give me structure and goals. But it’s good when I can rest. I think that Adventist scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi explained rest quite well when he said that, on the Sabbath, we are to act as if all of our work is done (whether it is or not).