The holiday weekend is off to an unexpectedly bright start. I woke up an hour ago to sunshine streaming through the windows. The most recent weather forecast predicted rain every day through Monday. Earlier in the week, we were told to expect nearly picture-perfect conditions. That’s where we are right now.
We are also in Two Rivers. We left Middleton at 4:00 yesterday, once school let out and the van was packed. We took advantage of our unoccupied house and had the carpets in the family room and living rooms cleaned. The blue carpet in the family room, installed in 1991, was starting to get embarrassingly soiled. Area rugs and Resolve could no longer hide or eliminate the problem areas. Within the last year or two, I had used a dry cleaning method, which was generally satisfactory except in high traffic areas. The beige living room carpet is 2½ years old, has never been cleaned, but still looks almost new, in spite of the boys and a number of large gatherings we’ve had at the house. We left the smaller piece of furniture “in storage” in the garage and kitchen so that the carpets could dry unobstructed over the weekend.
Since it’s our anniversary weekend, JoAnna and I are in a celebratory mood. Shortly after our arrival, we went out for fish at the Vet’s Club, a meal that made me y earn for those hot slabs of deep-fried haddock at Mr. Elmer’s in Oshkosh, which, unfortunately, is no longer in business. Larry is a sociological study in motion. Watching the 68-year-old hometown boy interact with practically everyone is fascinating. After our meal, we walked one block west to the K of C Club, site of the Richard family reunion Friday night fish fry and Sunday breakfast. JoAnna’s cousin Wayne Klein was working as a bartender. While the Richards – Larry, Alice, JoAnna, and Cindy – were yukking it up with friends at a table, the boys and I sat at the bar. I had been at the table, but the boys were getting bored and need some attention.
Andy, drinking a coke into which he had dropped breath mints, and Dad, sipping a beer played a game of baseball “Whadda-ya-know?”
I started out.
“He plays for the Houston Astros.”
“Jeff Bagwell,” Andy guessed.
“He’s one of the killer B’s,” I said, offering a second clue.
“Jay Bell doesn’t play for Houston,” I said, a little bit unsure of my current baseball knowledge.
“OK, one more clue,” I continued. “Not little, but….”
Eddie would interrupt our game every now and then with one of his amazingly worldly questions, which I always took the time out to attempt to answer.
If I hadn’t have spent some time with the boys, they would have gone out of their minds with boredom and into unchecked mischief.
Back at the house, we played cards until shortly after midnight. Margaret, JoAnna’s godmother, and her husband Earl joined us. Margaret’s first husband, Richard, died 5 or 6 years ago. Unhappy with the life of a lonely widow, she quickly remarried, initially without the full support of her 5 children. Now she’s a lady of retirement leisure. She and Earl spend winters in Arizona, in the Phoenix area, and are avid golfers. It’s amazing what a second chance at love will do for a person. I remember Margaret acting like a giggly, blushing schoolgirl on the day that she and Earl got married.
Later in the day
Twelve years ago on this day of the week, the wedding had concluded. Our guests had inched their way through the reception line, and pictures of the wedding party and members of the families were being taken. Twelve years ago! So much has happened since then. Family. Career. Friends. Trips. We’ve achieved a wonderful contentment in our lives in spite of all the little bumps we encounter along the way. JoAnna and I were certainly fortunately to have found each other. (Should there be some music swelling up in a big crescendo in the background?) The years of my waiting and wondering now seem like series of rare opportunities to do all the things I felt I needed to do before settling down into a permanent relationship. I think that’s why I enjoy being a husband and father so much. I’ve learned that in these two roles, I’ve experienced the greatest rewards of my life.
The boys and I walked to Nashotah Park this morning. Andy practiced his pitching and hitting. Eddie ended up walking around, occasionally putting in a request for us to walk to the lake, which we did after I was able to hit a few balls, most of them line drives up the middle.
“Dad, that’s why I don’t like to pitch to you.”
That was my trademark style in Oshkosh during the 7 summers I played softball – stinging basehits up the middle.
This afternoon JoAnna, Andy, Larry, and I went golfing at a par-3 course a few miles outside of town, my first opportunity to use Dad’s clubs. It was a gorgeous day for golf: clear skies and the temperature in the mid-60s. We all played fairly respectably, JoAnna taking first with a score of 40, me in second with 42, Larry at 43, and Andy at 45. Andy could have tied Mom for first if he hadn’t lost it on the 3rd hole, where he hit his first three balls in a water hazard and then temporarily shut down. Once he focused on the game again, he made great shots.