We all huddled near the door, nervous for what lay on the other side. We could barely hear the count from the din all around us but we tried to be brave. We could have been on a rescue mission, on a midnight ambush deep behind enemy lines. One, two, three – GO! The door slid open and we tumbled out into the maelstrom. The wind nearly knocked the first two to the ground as they braced themselves against the pelting rainstorm and ran for the entrance.
I was the last to depart and as I watched the boys disappear around the corner, I pulled the door on our transport shut and headed into the storm. But I looked back and realized the door hadn’t shut. It was pulling back open on its tracks while buckets of water blew in. I ran back and pulled again but just before the door shut, it stopped and opened back up again. Over and over we danced together; Daddy and the minivan, stuck in the gale with only the howling winds blocking out my angry words that were not meant to be heard. Finally, the blessed door closed and, soaked to the bone, I scampered head down through the puddles and met the boys in the lobby of the nursing home for the Cub Scout Christmas caroling event.
It seems like an easy enough task to take the boys to Christmas caroling. (Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…) And even though I still had my shoes on and didn’t have to walk on broken glass, I’ve found that those things expected to be the easiest often end up being the hardest. I thought that I knew which nursing home the caroling was at. I didn’t. I thought I could find the email with directions. I couldn’t. I didn’t think I’d be searching for it in the dark during an unpredicted near hurricane. I was. (Even if I watched the Weather Channel as much as my parents do, I still wouldn’t have known it was coming.) At one count, there were no less than three wrong turns, one near collision and at least that many times yelling to the boys to be quiet while Daddy tried to think.
“You know how sometimes Mommy has a tough time and needs you to be quiet so she can figure something out?” I tried to explain to them. “Well Daddy is having one of those times right now so keep your mouths shut!”
After an ill-advised U-turn into yet another wrong nursing home parking lot brought us to a screeching halt, my son piped up from the back, “Daddy, you’re having another one of those times, aren’t you?”
We ended up being just 15 minutes late to the caroling and we squished our way down the hallway to contribute our holiday joy to our pack.
“What’s that smell, Daddy?”
“Just keep walking, it’s old people, Son.”
We snuck over to the side of the room just as We Wish You a Merry Christmas was winding through its more obscure verses.
“Daddy, what in the world is piggy pudding?”
“Figgy pudding, and I’ll tell you later – just sing!” There’s nothing like trying to get a first and second grader to keep up with reading a song sheet to verses they don’t know. Thankfully there were enough parents there to carry things.
My phone buzzed with a new text message from my wife who was at the kids’ elementary school running the Holiday Shoppe program. (You know, the event where parents give their kids money to spend on dollar store type presents so that they can feel like they’re buying something.) I reached into my wet pocket and read her text. It said that she heard the power was out at home and a tree had fallen across the road before ours and that it might be tough getting home. While this wasn’t good news on any day, it was particularly challenging tonight as I had to be home for an unusual 8PM conference call for work to talk to a handful of the nation’s top Urologists (and who says work isn’t fun!). We might have to cut things short.
We carolled up and down a few lonely hallways and stayed just long enough for the boys to down a couple holiday cupcakes with (hopefully) decorative plastic colored light bulbs on top. Ironically, the van doors had no trouble opening and closing on our way home since the rains had stopped. It turned out that the tree blocking the road was just past the turn to our house, so we were able to make it into our driveway without event. We stumbled through the front door in the darkness and found my mother-in-law reading by flashlight to our thankfully still happy two-year-old in the family room. Since he’s always playing with the flashlights, he was quick to show her where one was located after the power went out. After rounding up enough candles around the house to allow everyone to safely find their way to their bedrooms, I grabbed another flashlight, my laptop and notes, and set up shop out in our sunroom where my cell phone gets the best reception. An hour and a half later and now coughing from sitting half wet in the cold, I wandered back into the quiet dark house.
The children were thankfully quiet. My wife had arrived back home. The power was still out. I changed into some warmer clothes and sat down on the couch, dreaming of bed but stuck with visions of BPH and overactive bladder in my head. Like many days, surviving till the end of this one was an accomplishment in itself – some days are just more challenging than others!