Leftovers and Gravy
Daylight will be burning here soon, and I'm padding around the house. I went through the refrigerator already. There are leftovers in the fridge, but no gravy. I'm sorry, but leftovers (with few exceptions) have to have gravy.
I'd rather not fry bacon this morning, although I could whip up some bacon gravy and maybe a batch of fry-bread afterward like my "Okie" mother used to do. The fact is, if I fry bacon today, I'll have to put most of it in the fridge with the other leftovers. It's just me and Mrs. Smith now. When the Smith Girls were here a pound of bacon didn't last the entire morning.
Last Friday, in the midst of "Wedding Preparation Chaos Take-3", Grand Off-spring #3 joined in. Eight pounds, fifteen and three-fifths ounces. Quite a load for my oldest daughter whom I used to tease about her hobbit-friendly height. And quite a contrast to my now brute squad-size nearly-five-year-old grandson who slid into the world at a palm-sized three pounds. The family expanded in one direction while slimming down in another.
The wedding set-up began with the purchase of Costco. Yes, I do believe we bought the whole place last week. Have you seen the "lifestyle magazine" at Costco? On the cover for March- "Weddings by Costco". Or is it "Weddings Buy Costco"? Well after that adventure I treated Mrs. Smith to a caramel coffee in a tall chair (you guess where)...no...not there, while we waited for the florist to complete her art work. She had a door chime that mimicked a wolf whistle. I don't recall anyone ever whistling at me before, and it felt good, so I stepped out into the rain several times just to hear the classic compliment as I re-entered, sucking my gut in a little tighter each time. The news of the baby came then. We were sure that the oldest Smith girl wouldn't make it to the morning wedding Saturday, and she didn't. She and baby stayed in the hospital until Sunday. I'd wanted a picture of me with my three girls after this final wedding. I guess I can still do that.
Friday after set up (I ironed table cloths) we rehearsed the longest walk a few times. I know my lines well-- "Her mother and I do", so I worked on my tone and expression, my only creative input of the entire project. The rehearsal dinner was hosted by the groom's parents, and I made up for not having eaten earlier in the day. My third plate might have embarrassed my daughter a little, but isn't that my right/responsibility? Then back out into the rain to see the newest family addition.
Who designs hospitals anyway? Is it a therapy experience at the cuckoo's nest? Is it a class for first year architecture students... or first year psychiatry students? Once you've navigated the parking maze and walked the requisite four city blocks, shouldn't you find your loved-one with relative ease? With direction from the night guard, I proceeded to get us lost in Loma Linda University Hospital. I passed the same nurses' desk three or four times. Where do they go at night? They should pass out maps.
Once we located the room, the cares of the rainy day and frustrations of the hospital hallways all passed. The dim light and hush of a new mommy's hospital room focuses a man fairly quickly. I sat in the corner recliner and snapped a few pictures while Mrs. Smith and Smith daughter #2, who had braved the hospital trip with us, drooled over the little one. I like the "smell" of new babies, and it was all over this one. It was a good end to the day. We made it to the exit, but after pushing the button marked "Push Button to Exit" I pushed on the door. Alarms sounded, and strobe lights flashed. I guess I was supposed to wait for the door to open by itself or something, because the nurse and the security guard didn't look too happy when they responded.
The Wedding Day
Sleep came swiftly the night before the wedding. I remember walking in the door, and I remember waking up on the couch in the morning. Simple. Mrs. Smith made it to the bed. I woke up shivering and with frozen feet. You see, the wedding flowers were still in the house, and they wouldn't last the night if the furnace was on. My feet thawed in the shower, and I moved everything to the driveway where Mrs. Smith organized the pick-up. We were motoring down the street in the cold truck with time to spare, which was fortunate because I unloaded the truck in a light rain at the church. We set up the food tables and I just followed orders through all of that. I stepped into my tux in the restroom, but I realized my tuxedo shoes and suspenders hadn't made the trip. I had on my casual dress shoes that morning, and I was happy I couldn't find my sneakers before I started carrying boxes to the driveway. I was prepared to let my spare tire hold up my pants for the walk down the aisle, but just before the ceremony a friend found my shoes and suspenders in a box of muffins under the food table.
I was ushered into the balcony still adjusting my suspenders, and I caught sight of my little girl at the caboose end of a train of girlfriends. I took my place with her arm in mine, and as I did... I lost it. Everything I was giving away became suddenly real to me. I was smiling on the outside, but I wanted her to change her mind, on the inside. A few minutes later... after I had done my duty... I sat down next to Mrs. Smith and watched it happen. I watched her join another family, and I felt a curtain close. Sleep came swiftly again that night. Now I'm waiting for another curtain to open. It's been so quiet this week here at home.
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Family needs to connect. It's in the disconnect that life suffers and love is strained.
We traveled. We camped. We sang, watched movies, laughed and cried. It's what we did as a family. I loved it.
What is Love, really? It's our ability to value another life above our own.