Last Thursday night, I got the call. More to the point, my wife got a message from our machine and relayed it to me. I was working the late shift, covering production issues for my client. A called and told me what the message said. I immediately called Dad, and told him (and I'm paraphrasing), that the cavalry was coming.
The thing that got me was not that call came. We knew it would come sooner or later. What got me is that it was both sudden and unexpected. As soon as I told Dad I was filling out the paperwork, and it would be in the mail the next day, he changed the subject.
I talked to Mom, who was brusque for our entire short conversation. When I asked why the doctor gave them the impression that something needed to happen NOW, she rose her voice and cut me off. This wasn't unexpected either, as she's been waging a scaled down cold war of silence for several weeks. When C called on her birthday twice and asked her to call back...nothing. She had my Dad make all calls, while she normally does.
The last time we had any conversation, I told her she should try and make a point to spend more time with W. It's hard giving even time to the little kid. He can't ask for it yet. C can. C is more fun, more verbal, more interactive. I told her it was no big deal, but her face and quivering voice told me that she wasn't getting that message.
So it was about 6 weeks later when they found out. And, of course, fate being what it is, the first time we are supposed to see my P's post-cold war is two days after they get the news.
The occasion was the birthday party of one of my cousin's kids. She's a great, happy, smiley, kid of 6? (I can never remember kids ages other than my own) Anyway, they decided to move the party out of the house to a bowling alley. Kid is very athletic. Good at bowling. Apparently some people correlate those two things.
I was torn about the day. On the one hand, I always love seeing my cousin and his family, and the rest of that side of my family. On the other, there was the news, the cold war, and the fact that A had a competing b-day party, and wouldn't be there for support.
For the entire 1.5 hour trip out, I tried to keep my mind off of the situation. I would flash in and out of a preview. I'd try and focus on all the oddities on the road...the bar that has a beer special to go along with their Kountry breakfast special, the town that Motorola abandoned. The road side farm that sold goat meat. C and I talked about the jeeps we'd pass, the construction trucks, the motorcycles, the silos.
Even with those distractions, by the time we got to the restaurant we were meeting my P's and grandmother at before the party, I had already lived the rest of the day. Maybe it was a self-fullfilling prophecy, but I was right.
We walked in the restaurant, and saw them. C rushed over to them and hugged and kissed them. He sat by Papa for a while, and then inbetween Nana and Great Grandma. It was never discussed. The cold war was never discussed.
C, Great Grandma and I headed to the bowling alley. On the way, we passed by....I guess you'd call it a bikini bar. It's not a strip joint, the chicks all wear bikinis. The only time I was there, was when my best friend was getting married. His fiance had convinced him that he didn't want 'that kind of entertainment.' But she approved of the bikini bar for whatever reason. So we walk in the door, and the featured entertainment was a girl we'd both dated 10 years earlier...looking...different.
That quickly faded away as C started talking to me about the bowling alley. For a moment, I thought we hadn't passed the bikini bar:
The least surprising thing about this sign to me is that they misspelled amateur. Anyway, that didn't start it off well. We headed in, and found the party. The whole gang was there, and C immediately hooked up with his girl-cousins who love to hold his hand and walk him around and show him stuff.
To my shock, C LOVED bowling. He never once saw his ball hit the pins, but he loved pushing it with his Papa and Daddy. He was downright giddy the entire time. After 30 minutes of pushing pink bowling balls down the lane, he slowed down, and talked with cousin J. He loves J. J loves talking to him and tickling him, and hugging him. For 10-15 minutes, she said "tickle" and tickled him and he tickled her, and they both giggled. Then she'd say "hug." And they'd hug until she said tickle again.
We went back in the party room and the kids ate pizza. After the Za, C basically found a couple balloons and ran around the room squealing for the rest of the party. Dad did his 'evil adult putting his finger in the frosting routine' with great success. He was beaten and tackled by all the kids in the room. He loved it.
After a while, they opened up the curtains, and there was a large room adjacent to us, and the kids ALL ran in with balloons waving them, and hitting each other with them. It was one of the first time C wasn't obviously the littlest and least coordinated. He was giving as good as he got.
Finally, it was time to go. We said our goodbyes. It was never mentioned. C kissed Nana, Papa, and Grandma as well as some of his cousins, and his Uncle. He was asleep before we pulled out of the parking lot.
Since I'd already noticed all the odd things along the road, I was stuck reflecting on it. The funny thing is that I'm not worried about any of the things that I think I should be. Possible surgery? No sweat. A month being out of commission? No problem.
I'm worried about A not having any help with the kids, and how that will be hard for a month. I'm angry at my mother in advance for how I think she'll act. I'm angry that it won't be discussed until there is a need for it. I'm angry that I'm angry.
As I was delving deeper into anger, I hear "That silo is part of a barn. It's part of a big farm." C was explaining how farms worked to me. The rest of the trip was a lot better. C was teasing me by opening the velcro on his sandals. "Open!" "NOOOOO, C I want them clooooooosed." "Open." "Ok, open is ok." "CLOSED."
We got home, and A and W were already there. W was very happy to see me. W is such a mamma's boy, that surprised me a bit. But the best part of the day was when we were putting the kids to bed. I was sitting at A's feet while she nursed W. C was lying on a pillow as A read to us. All of the sudden, W sat up and looked at me. He got a huge smile, pointed at me, and then lunged to me.
The kids are the best medicine for my internal grumblings. So I'm going to make an effort to remember their smiles when I'm worried over whether or not my kidney matches my dad's.