South Of Main Street
Mom dies and the youngest daughter sues the emotionally challenged Dad for financial control of the estate sending him on a quest to prove he is normal - not an easy task when you are not.
His wife, Mary, has just passed away, so when Henry makes jokes at odd moments, and observations that are completely off topic, he seems detached from reality. Although quite capable of holding a conversation, he often doesn’t truly see the purpose as to why he should.
Their family always lived moderately, even though Mary was quite wealthy. Now, Henry is wealthy, and Sharon, his younger daughter, doesn’t see why the estate shouldn’t be divided between her and Robin, the older daughter. They could take care of Henry much the same way as Mary did in the past. But Sharon has filed for a competency hearing. Robyn, a lawyer, will defend him and will take care of the bills until this issue is resolved in the courts.
Without Mary’s guidance, Henry moves about the town, meeting people in bizarre ways, like handshaking mourners at a funeral as if they were at a Tony Robins’ motivational seminar. Sharon tells the judge how her father was while growing up, like the department store incident where he would look at them up and down. When one person asked him what he was looking at, Henry said, in a real demonic voice, that he was looking for a more suitable host body. There were many stories where one sister would think was funny, while the other sister, not so much.
Henry meets Dixie – a drug addict with dreams of a future; and 12-year-old Danny, whose spirit is crushed by an absentee mother, and an abusive father who drinks too much; and homeless Joe and Wheezy, who live under a bridge. Soon, Sharon and Robyn begin to see withdrawals from Henry’s bank account, a fact Sharon uses in court to declare him incompetent.
But this is more of a story of how kindness and understanding can change lives, even a whole town. It is incredibly obvious that Henry’s mind is damaged, but his utter enjoyment of people drives the story forward. As it turns out, Henry’s journey was one of forgiveness, which he gives freely. He also wants it for himself for a mistake he made a long time ago. And in his search for that forgiveness no one could have predicted what effect Henry would have on everyone.
Dixie explains, at the end of this tale, of how a boy or a girl may grow up and become president and they will tell stories to historians about where they came from. One might say ‘I’m a native son or daughter born on the South Side of Main Street in an obscure town in Pennsylvania’. And no one will ever know that embedded in this statement is a story of how one person made a difference to so many; of how his goodness spread far and wide like the ubiquitous wind; and how life for so many improved immeasurably, not because this good Samaritan had money, status or political influence, but because he saw life as if through the eyes of a child.
Robert De Niro