Sunday, August 27, 2006

Four Wheels and a Prayer

TheHusband makes phone calls while I pack a suitcase. I don’t know what to bring. Jeans and sneakers to be at the house. Comfy clothes for late nights and early mornings. What to bring for the funeral? Will there be a funeral? Dad always said he didn’t want one, but would Mom be able to fulfill this request?

While I’m zipping here and there, throwing things in the suitcase then pulling them out again, TheHusband has made arrangements with his boss so he can drive me to my parents’ house. Or wherever it was I was going to find my mom that night. He has also made arrangements for someone to look in on Kitty (our cat). Who knows how long we’ll be gone?

It only takes an hour from the time we first get through to someone at the fire and the time we are on the road. It’s a good thing TheHusband is driving or I would be pedal to the metal, flying up the interstate. As it is I’m mental pushing TheHusband’s foot down on the accelerator (not that it does any good).

There is not much conversation; I am lost in thought as I stare into the fields. Soon it is too dark to see anything, and TheHusband asks what I’m thinking. It’s hard for me to explain, but I tell him I am thinking about Mom . . . and Dad. The officer had said they knew where in the house Dad was, but that the heat and smoke had been too bad to pull him out. They left them there and it made me angry. I tried to remember that he was already “gone” and that there were more lives at stake. His body wasn’t worth sending others into danger. But I also knew, even before I was told, that Mom wouldn’t leave before they pulled him from whatever was left of the house.

I prayed with all my heart and soul that she would either be convinced not to be there when he was brought out of the house or that Dad would not be burned too badly. “Please God, PLEASE do not let her last memory of him be all burned and disfigured.”

Friday, August 18, 2006

I love you because...

. . . you pick up the slack when I get lazy about taking care of Kitty.

She says "Meow", btw.

The beginning of the story

I was sitting in the church basement, waiting for Sr. Youth to start. Chatting and laughing with the few kids who were there. Then TheHusband came through the door and motioned to the Youth Leader that he needed to talk to her. When she came back in the room I knew something was wrong. There were tears in her eyes and she would only say “You need to go home now.” So I grabbed my purse and walked out to my car, where TheHusband was waiting.

“Everything’s fine, I’ll tell you what’s going on when we get home.” For a fleeting moment I believed him. What kind of sweet surprise does he have planned for me? But it was a lie. I knew it. If everything was fine, why would the Youth Leader have looked ready to cry and why would he look so serious? So I drove home, trying not to speed, and trying not to think horrible things.

When I pulled in to the parking lot, I knew, like you just know certain things, it had to do with Dad. “What’s going on?” I asked before we could even get inside the building.

“There was a fire at the house.”
“My parents’ house?”
“Your parents’ house?”
“No, the house in #####.”
“and. . . ?”
“They didn’t get out.”
“Both of them, or just Dad?”

I’m scared now. If it’s Dad I can handle it, but Mom too? I’m not ready for that. I’ve been preparing myself for years for the phone call about Dad. But not. . . not both of them, not at the same time.

“I don’t know, let’s just get inside.”

This is when it clicks, it’s Wednesday night and Mom should have been at work. Was she sick? Did her schedule change? What the heck is going on?

We get into the building, the adrenaline is flowing, and I can’t decide whether to run to the phone or to shake TheHusband for more information. I do both, but neither produces much results. Brother5 left a voicemail and TheHusband hasn’t been able to get him to answer his phone. It takes me ten minutes, TEN MINUTES, to think to call the sheriff’s department (it’s a small town, and the county provides law enforcement).

TheHusband looks up the number and makes the call. They give him the phone number of an officer at the scene. He dials while I grab a suitcase to pack. I hear him on the phone explaining who he is and I pick up an extension in time to hear that the house is pretty much gone and they “lost” Dad.

Lost. That’s what they said, like he simply wandered away in the grocery store. That’s not what happened, and we all know it. I want to scream “He’s not lost! You know where he is, go get him!” But I know it’s too late. Then it registers, he said no one else was in the house. Just Dad. I feel relief flood through me, then shame. Dad’s dead, and I’m relieved I’m not an orphan. What is my problem?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Training Wheels

He learned to ride a bike
with no hands to guide him,
no training wheels, or strong arms,
to catch him when he fell.
His only teachers were the biting gravel
and the laughing tree by the driveway.

When he would fall
the gravel screamed, "Don't do that!"
and he could hear, "Try again,"
come whispering from the tree.

When he did succeed
with timing and with balance,
the friendly tree congratulated him
with open arms, a rough kiss,
and a bit of advice:

"Now practice your steering, please."

This is actually one of my favorite poems from college. The professor (Bill Holm) walked into class a little late one night and said "You have seven minutes to write a poem with the word 'tree' in it. Begin now." He looked at his watch, then sat down. This poem is what poured out.

I love you because...

. . . you agree with me when I say things like "I'm Brilliant!" or "I'm Funny!"

Monday, August 14, 2006

Rhubarb Pie

Who can resist the sweet tartness of a rhubarb pie? One that’s still warm from the oven with a flakey crust that sparkles with the promise of sugar granules generously sprinkled across its lattice top? Not me and certainly not Dad.

Recently, at work, they were serving a rhubarb custard pie. I had never in my life had this, but had to give it a try since it had been ages since I’d had anything rhubarb. While the creamy texture of the rhubarb custard was a taste treat, I was reminded how much Dad loved rhubarb desserts. And sitting there with my coworkers it was difficult not to laugh out loud as I remembered a story from last summer.

Mom had picked a bunch (and when I say a bunch I’m not talking about a fistful, or an ice cream bucketful, but a 5 gallon pail full) of rhubarb one morning. Unfortunately it was on one of her work days and she didn’t have time to do anything with it before she had to get ready and leave for work. So in an effort to give Dad something to do she told him that if he cut up some of the rhubarb that she would make him a pie the next day. He gave her a funny look and she thought that was the end of it and nothing would be done with the rhubarb.

Much to her surprise, when she got home that night (at almost one in the morning) she found that the largest bowl she owned was overflowing with cut rhubarb. Now I’m when I say a large bowl, I’m talking about one of those stainless steel bowls you could practically use as a swimming pool. After getting some rest, Mom spent all of the next morning baking pies, and bars, and rhubarb sauce, etc. A few days later, TheHusband and I were there to visit and Mom sent bars and sauce home with us. We (meaning me, because it turns out TheHusband isn’t too fond of rhubarb) would have loved to have brought some of the pie back as well, but my brothers made sure that that didn’t happen.
I guess Dad liked rhubarb pie more than any of us knew.

I love you because...

. . . you are okay with letting your silly side out.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I love you because...

. . . a couple of weeks ago, when I found out that I had lost enough weight to go down two pant sizes, you were happy for me. Not because I had lost weight, but because I was happy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I love you because...

. . . you were nice enough to install all my computer games after you finished doing stuff to the desktop (even though I was being cranky at you at the time).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I love you because...

. . . you never just assume that doing stuff without me is okay (even though it is 95% of the time). You want to make sure that I'm not feeling left out or that I'm okay with you spending a little extra money on yourself is okay.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Taking a break. . .

. . . The last few days have been filled with pretty much the same old same old. Except, I've been taking a break from my photo scanning project (over 1000 scanned and counting) to play with my new laptop.

So far I've been loving it, but I still have to get used to the keyboard and the lack of a 10Key pad. Oh, well, it was bound to happen sometime. I love the fact that I can be anywhere in the apartment and still be able to write on the 'puter. I also love that I purchased a wireless mouse for the laptop (and a cute one, it's a Swiss Army Mouse - honorably discharged of course). Without this little guy I would probably tried using my desktop mouse about a thousand times by now.

This weekend I'll have to get back to the scanning project. There's only about 50 to 100 pictures left to do. While I've been doing this I've been trying to think of ways to put these pictures into some sort of DVD presentation for my mom and brothers. I may just have to break down and use my Pinnacle software for something more than watching t.v. at my P.C., which will totally shock TheHusband. hee hee

I love you because...

. . . you have been very patient with me as I've been playing with my new "toy" (the laptop) all week. You haven't even tried to steal it away from me once. =)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I love you because...

. . . you agree with me when I say we make a good team.
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