Friday, March 22, 2013

On This Day in 1998: Monday, March 23

Considering the number of times Andy called you last night, I should probably offer to pay my folks’ new phone bill. He certainly was all fired up about the game. I knew the outcome without asking as soon as I heard his groan of disappointment at 11:05. What a heartbreaking loss, huh?

On Friday morning before I dropped the boys at school, Eddie’s thoughts were not yet completely focused on the trip. While taking care of my last-minute packing, I overheard him say to Andy, “ wish we could leave on Saturday.” Once he considered the full impact of leaving school early, he realized he’d be missing art class.

“But Eddie, if we left tomorrow, we wouldn't be able to stay in a motel,” I explained.

Suddenly art class wasn’t so important anymore.

Eddie repeatedly reminded me to bring along my Walkman. He didn't mention what music he wanted to listen to, so I offered, “Let’s take the Beatles tapes.” We listened to the early Beatles between Rockford and Chicago, the boys impressed with my ability to sing along with every song, rarely stumbling over the words.

During Saturday’s road trip, Eddie listened to the first side of the early Beatles tape three times. He bobbed his head in time to the music and sang the words to some of the choruses. “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.” That bit of exuberance brought a quick cry of “Be quiet, Eddie” from his brother, who was quizzing Dad with questions from the newest edition of Trivial Pursuit.

The Holiday Inn where we stayed in South Bend is literally a flying leap from the Interstate. Due to he placement of the exit, we had to drive a circuitous two miles in a driving snow on slushy streets before reaching the front door to the motel.

The boys were so excited about getting to the swimming pool that they dashed away with the plastic card to open the door to our room before I had a chance to gather up the luggage I had dumped at my feet. They found their way to room 212 without incident, but I did have a talk with them about the importance of responsible behavior – not getting all wrapped up in the excitement of the moment. For the rest of the evening, I didn’t have a single problem with them.

The arrangement at the South Bend Holidome is similar to the one in Stevens Point, although where we stayed the pool was completely enclosed, separated by a glass wall from the arcade. Although I saw no signs to confirm this, it appeared that motel management preferred that guest not use the arcade area in their dripping wet or completely dry swimwear. I observed everyone there wearing street clothes.

The pool was 4’8” at its deepest, and the shallow end was indeed very shallow, so Eddie didn’t need to wear his floatation device. At this request, we had left it in the room anyway. After battling some of the ruggedest Chicago rush-hour traffic I’ve ever encountered and dealing with snowy and slippery condition during the last hour of the trip – we counted at least a half dozen cars that had skidded or spun off the road – I enjoyed the therapeutic effects of the warm pool water. I was ready to stretch out on a poolside chaise lounge when the boys announced that they were done with their swim.

I think that Andy was secretly hopig that the snow would keep us stranded in South Bend for an extra day. He and Eddie had made a few acquaintances Friday evening, which made our present location, in his mind, the best place to be. He exhibited some resistance as I pushed to get us on the road. You know the symptoms. The elongated, “Nooooo!” in answer to any question. Whining. A scowl upon his face. Fortunately, it was a short-lived performance.

We stopped at a Bob Evans for breakfast. Andy, of course, ordered lunch. Eddie inhaled his bacon but only nibbled at the edges of his silver dollar pancakes. My entrée was not quite a scramble, not quite an omelet, but included eggs, diced potatoes, sausage, gravy, and grated cheese. Not the healthy heart selection either.

Our Saturday road trip was uneventful. Andy slept for on hour. Traffic was surprisingly light.

The road trip continued.

Grandma greeted the boys with a shriek of delight, her day-long, pent-up expectations bursting forth like water breaking through a dam. Grandpa got up out of his chair in the dining room, shuffled to the edge of the carpet, and stood unsteadily in the doorway. Even though his eyes were teary, I had the strange, unsettling sensation that he wasn’t quite sure what all the commotion was about. I thought I heard him mumble something about “going to” rather than “coming from”. His confused condition, his obviously worsening case of Parkinson’s, put a damper on the initial moment of reunion for me.

Naturally, Grandma had the dining room table set and dinner just about ready to be served. She had prepared two casserole dishes: one mostly cubes of chicken with dressing pressed into a baking dish, the other a very tasty spinach-and-rice combination.

After supper most of us remained around the dining room table to play Trivial Pursuit, at Andy’s request. The Pennsylvania team beat Wisconsin.

Sunday morning I debated whether or not to be the dutiful son and attend church with Mom, but instead I took an hour-long walk, picking up a New York Times along the way. When I returned home, Dad was sitting alone, in silence, in the living room. I joined him there to read the paper, but the quite soon started to spook me. (Dad is very close to the point where he can no longer carry on a conversation.) I asked him if he wanted to watch TV. He surfed for awhile, demonstrating some remaining manual dexterity, but found nothing of interest. I offered to put on a CD. I selected a Mozart recording and that seemed to momentarily perk him up. I saw a hint of life in his face.

No comments: