Frankly, I thought I was handling things pretty well.
We had … how can I say this …? An interesting Memorial Day weekend, in the same way the Chinese mean with their old curse, “May you live in interesting times”. It was fun for the whole family, in the same way some people say “fun” when describing tornado touchdowns and Ebola outbreaks.
Oh, let me begin this story by telling you the ending: Everyone’s fine. Remember that.
It started with my grandson Hunter getting poison ivy on his hands. He’s less than two years old, so that’s a big deal – although it’s hardly surprising, considering he’s one of those kids who has to grab hold of everything he sees.
To give you an idea of how the weekend went, by Monday I’d forgotten about the poison ivy.
Next was his brother, Brayden, getting rushed to the hospital with 105 degree fever. In an attempt to calm my daughter (Brayden’s dad had already gone airborne to the hospital, and he was not in an aircraft), I explained over the phone that high fevers weren’t nearly as bad for toddlers as for older people.
Which is true, but 105 is still pretty darn high. However, I was calm. After all, I wasn’t there.
When Brayden had to be admitted to the hospital Sunday to get intravenous fluids (because it hurt to swallow, causing dehydration), I told his parents that they’d take good care of him and he’d be wetting his diapers again in no time.
I confess, my optimism faltered when he had an allergic reaction to the medication that night, and had to be put on more medicine.
I visited the hospital for only a short time the next day, under the theory that he needed rest, which a bunch of people fussing over him wouldn’t provide. At the time, I thought I was putting up a pretty good front of willingly walking away from the expression of misery on that poor tyke, but who knows if witnesses would
That was one ongoing sage, interwoven like a good detective movie with another storyline, only without the multimillion dollar salaries. The other started with a three a.m. phone call Saturday morning. A hit and run driver blew a red light in Fort Wayne, slamming into our family’s little Nissan Sentra and pushing it into a guard rail.
So right there came two of a parent’s worst nightmares: My grandkid was in the hospital, and my daughter in a car wreck. At least it was the other daughter, not the one with the twins – one person can only go through so much.
I handled it very well. Honest.
Emily and I, who had both just fallen asleep after a very long Friday, headed to Fort Wayne. I haven’t dealt with a situation like this in many years (and didn’t have a clue), so by 5:30 a.m. we were knocking on the door of my other daughter, whose boyfriend is something of a mechanical genius. (And whose son was sick, but Brayden was home and seemed to be doing okay at that point.)
Vinny, as expected, jumped at the chance to help out, because that’s the kind of person he is. (Actually he shuffled at the chance to help out – it was 5:30, after all.) But we were on a time limit: The tow company’s lot closed at noon, and wouldn’t reopen again until Tuesday morning. We either moved the car that morning, or paid a daily lot fee for three days.
I have no doubt Vinny could fix it, despite the bent wheel, broken headlight, and missing rear bumper. But was it worth it? The Nissan was twelve years old, covered in rust, its driver’s side window stuck in the up position, and with no working dash lights. I had only liability insurance for it, so that wasn’t a factor – it could be fixed and maybe run for awhile, or be compacted into the world’s heaviest ash tray.
Even with another tow fee, we could make a little more in scrap metal than it would cost to get it out of there. But it was late Saturday morning, hot, and I’d been up all night. Trying to get it moved was more trouble than it was worth. I signed it over to the towing company, and that extra couple of hundred bucks for scrapping it out was theirs.
I remember the day we bought that car: Jillian hated it at first. But both my daughters learned to drive in that little 1998 Sentra. It was the car I drove 500 miles to meet Emily for the first time, and we went through both good and bad times in it. Some of us were a little emotional.
Not me, though. I was being practical. I must have presented a cool,
collected picture, a calm center, as we steered our collective canoe up Crap Creek without a paddle.
Then, a couple of days later, I saw the picture.
Charis wanted a photo of me in front of the Nissan, just for old time’s sake. If the paper has room to print the picture, look at my face. I looked like I’d just been forced to shoot Old Yeller. I was amazed at that haggard look, and will never again pretend to be the guy who’s not being affected by things.
Okay, I probably will, but I won’t let anyone nearby with a camera.
What the heck: We all survived -- except for the car -- and on Monday I slept for almost ten hours straight. It’s possible one or two good things even happened during that period.
But that doesn’t fit the theme, so we’ll save it for another tale.