Late last night, Certain Man’s Stepmother called to say that her brother, Lawrence Beachy, had just passed away. Lawrence’s twin, Laura, had made her Heavenly Journey just one month and one day earlier (August 25th). That passing was a long, drawn-out process. This one was sudden and unexpected.
This morning, amid phone calls and plans and such, Certain Man’s Wife has been surprised again by tears. She knows that these tears are selfish. They have a whole lot less to do with Uncle Lawrence than they do with CMW.
And then the morning proceeded to go so very wrong.
The phone calls did set her behind, but not terribly much. She should have had plenty of time to get around, or so she thought. So she packed lunches and got her ladies up, and gave Blind Linda her shower. The troublesome foot was hurting a bit. This is where she would have taken the three Aleve prescribed for Eldest Son — but the doctor said — (See previous post!!!) So for two weeks CMW had been treating her broken foot with the wrong medications most of the time. She had some narcotics that she didn’t want to take in the morning before she got a few things done.
As CMW brought Blind Linda out from dressing her to sit at the breakfast table at about 8:07, she caught sight of the DART bus, pulling into the driveway, and with a sinking feeling, CMW knew Blind Linda would not be going to Easter Seals on the bus this particular morning. You see, Blind Linda has a “be ready” time of 8 AM, but the bus has been coming around 8:30. Not always predictably, but not ever at 8:07. So CMW went out and told them that they would need to just go on without Blind Linda. (This is called a “no show” and is not good for the transportation record. Sigh)
CMW went back into the house and called DART Paratransit and explained the situation. She did think that maybe she should take her in. It is a “Special Olympics” day at Easter Seals and there are lots of exciting things going on. However, Cecilia is never quite happy with such things, so it was tempting to think that maybe she should just stay home today. It would be fine with CMW. She didn’t have anywhere she needed to go.
Our Girl Nettie was busy with her morning stuff, and Youngest Daughter ran out the door to school. She was not long on time, and CMW saw that she dumped the last of her hot chocolate down the sink as she headed out the door. “I’m late!” she explained, “And I don’t want to drip hot chocolate on me while I am driving.” Youngest Daughter was feeling bluesy anyhow about some things going on at school, and CMW’s heart went out to her. She had spoken encouraging words to her the night before, and hoped that she would be able to put some things into practice, but almost 17 is a difficult age for kids with confidence issues and career/college choices and friendship challenges, and Youngest Daughter had wept much over several concerning things.
About ten minutes after she left, she called home on her cell phone.
“Mom.” She was crying. CMW’s mother-mind dived into its rapid fire, “Oh, no, what has happened- Kicked in the stomach- Can’t breathe” mode.
“Rachel– What’s wrong?”
“Mom. I ran out of gas. I out here just past Dover Mill Works.” More tears. Isn’t it strange how Moms can drop into relief/happy/relief/irritated mode without even thinking?
“Rachel! Didn’t you know you were low in gas?”
“Well, yes, I was gonna’ get it today. But I hadn’t gotten my check cashed yet. I just thought I could make it.”
Over and over in CMW’s head were the words of Gomer Pyle on an old Andy Griffeth’s show. “A car needs four things. Gas, oil, water ‘n air. Water ‘n air are free. Gas and oil are a differ’nt matter entire!” (CMW has a reputation for thinking of unhelpful things at random times!)
“Rachel, you could have backed out to Dad’s farm tank and put enough in for today — “
She was in no mood to hear any “could’ve, should’ve, ought to have’s. So CMW promised to get some gas and be there as soon as se could. But in the mean time, Eldest Daughter and the little guys had come. Our Girl Nettie’s bus was due. Eldest Daughter needed to get the Oldest Little Guy to preschool. And Cecilia was still sitting at the breakfast table. CMW sighed deeply and clumped out on her cast and walking boot to look for the gas can. Nothing in the Old garage.
“Certain Man has certainly been cleaning up in this place,” She noted. “This really looks nice.” On with the search.. Nothing in the old barn. In the wood shed, she found a two gallon can with no lid or spout. Nothing in the Manure shed or the lean-to barn. So CMW trudged back to the house and called Certain Man.
“She should have known to just back out there to the farm tank and put enough in to make it through today,” he said with the same degree as helpfulness as Youngest Daughter’s Momma.
“I know, but don’t we have anything here to take gas to her?”
“There’s a five gallon can in the old garage–.”
“I already looked there. I couldn’t find a thing. I found the two gallon without a lid or spout – “
“No, there is the five gallon one in the old garage by the light.” By now CMW was heading back out to look again.
“Daniel, I don’t see a thing.”
“There’s one there on the floor by the light switch. I just saw it there. I’m sure there is one there.”
“Oh. By the light switch. I was looking under the light. Um. Yeah. Here it is!” Certain Man talked his poor befuddled wife through getting a few gallons into the red, plastic gas can, and she clumped back to the house.
Once in there, it was time to call Our Girl Nettie’s bus driver and tell him not to stop for her. Eldest Daughter graciously offered to drive her to her center when she took Oldest Little Guy to preschool. And time for morning meds for Cecilia who would need to ride along on the gas delivery trip. About the time Certain Man’s Wife was walking out the door, the phone rang again. Eldest Daughter picked it up.
“Yes, she’s coming!” CMW heard her say. “She had to get the gas can, and fill it with gas and work out all the stuff for Cecilia and Our Girl Nettie, but she is coming!”
“Tell her I am walking out the door right now!” CMW hollered over her shoulder as she did precisely that. (It had been twenty minutes since Youngest Daughter had called. CMW was sure it must have been embarrassing to sit beside one of Delawares most traveled secondary roads.)
CMW got to where Youngest Daughter’s little green Mazda was parked beside the road, and pulled in behind it. She got the big red gas can and set it on the ground behind the car.
“Rachel. This car is pretty close to the road, don’t you think>”
“I thought so, too, but I couldn’t get it to go any farther.”
“Why don’t you get in and put it into neutral and guide it and I will push it off a little farther. I don’t want someone coming down the road and taking one or both of us out.”
Embarrassing for days! CMW had to feel sorry once again for her teenager. It was obvious to every single car going by that she had run out of gas because of that big red gas can sitting on the ground. And now, here was her decidedly plump Momma with her foot in a cast pushing her off the shoulder and partially into the grass. CMW was quite sure that she was praying, “Please, God, don’t let anyone come along who knows me!” The task got accomplished fairly readily, and then it was time to try to get some gas into the tank.
Of course, that wouldn’t be easy. The gas can spout was one of the new kind that needed to be forcefully pushed back to open the end to allow gas to flow out. The car’s receptacle was one that had a spring loaded cover on it that needed pushed back to allow gas to flow in. Which is all well and good under normal circumstances. The problem was that the spout was just a tad bit bigger than the opening and every time CMW upended the can and tried to put gas in there, there was this volcano of gas that just ran right out on the ground. Youngest Daughter was becoming more and more nauseated by the minute, and CMW kept almost falling while she ran around trying to figure everything out. Finally, she retrieved a sturdy plastic knife from her trusty mini-van (even it won’t run without gas, though) and instructed Youngest Daughter to push back the flapper to the gas tank while she attempted once again to pour in whatever she possibly could get in there. Finally. A small measure of success!
Then. “Uh, Mom–” said Youngest Daughter uncertainly. “Um. I think — that knife broke off into the gas tank.” She held up half of the red plastic knife. “This can’t be good.”
While CMW was pondering this, a truck pulled up behind the pair and a clean-cut gentleman got out. Maybe some help! He walked up towards the two woebegone females, holding a sheet of paper.
“Hello, Ladies. I need some eyes!” CMW must have looked puzzled. After all, he had just been driving down the road. He had better be able to see! He went on to explain. “I need you to read something for me. You see, I left my reading glasses at home, and I need to know what this paper says, and I can’t see a thing!” He spread the paper over the trunk of Youngest Daughter’s car.
A sudden thought hit Certain Man’s Wife. “You know what?” she said excitedly. “I have a pair of reading glasses in my car at this very minute. Someone left them there and they do not belong to me, and I have considered giving them away. You can have them if you want them. I think they belong to my brother and he only has about a hundred pair– Here, Rachel, hold this can steady and I will go and get them.” So she clumped back to the mini van and retrieved the brown male-looking reading glasses from the side pocket where they had been residing for several months. She took them back to the Man by the Side of the Road, cleaning them on her skirt as she walked.
He took them delightedly, put them on his face, looked at his paper and burst into a grin. “They’re perfect!” he pronounced happily. And gave CMW that fist-bump sort of thing people do when they have just had a victory of sorts. “That’s a wonderful thing!”
“That’s a God-thing!’ Certain Man’s Wife told him. (He didn’t acknowledge that statement, but it doesn’t change the fact.). And he returned to his vehicle. “Mom, that man said that it won’t matter a bit if that plastic knife is in there. I asked him while you were back there getting the glasses.”
“Well, let’s see if we can see the plastic when we are done, and if we can get it, we will!” So they held the can steady until there didn’t seem to be any more going into the opening, and then took it down and looked in the opening. The piece of plastic knife was right there. Stuck in the little flapper. Youngest Daughter took a scissors that CMW had conveniently in the car and used it as a tweezer sort of thing and got the pieces out.
“Okay, let’s see if we can get this car started,” said CMW to her weary offspringin’. Youngest Daughter got into her car and started the car on the first try. “That’s good. I will write you a note, and you can get yourself to school.”
“Mom,” said Youngest Daughter tearily. “I feel sick. I am so tired and I have gas on me. The smell is making me feel like throwing up. Please, can’t I come back home, clean up and get my note? I don’t feel like going to school at all, but I need to go for Geometry and Chorus. Please, can’t I go back home for a little bit?”
CMW looked at her precious woman-child and had mercy upon her. They got both vehicles turned around and started back home. CMW called the school and explained the circumstances. And she found not only understanding, but mercy at the other end of the line. Then she called Easter Seals and discussed the day with them, and decided that she was going to keep Blind Linda home all day, too. She came home and found the day vastly improved with the decisions behind her and the quiet day ahead.
And the day was very quiet until almost 4 pm, when she heard a wailing noise at her door. It was Youngest Daughter, and she was making very distressed noises .
“Oh, Mom. I can’t stand it! Something terrible happened to me!” How could this be happening again???
Certain Man’s Wife sprang up from her chair where she was trying to rest her foot. “What’s wrong, Rachel? What happened?”
“Oh, Mom. I was on my way to the chicken house and I stepped on a snake! It was brown and yucky looking and I felt it slither its tail through my toes.” She shuddered. “Come out and see it, Mom. It felt terrible!”
So CMW clumped out to the generator shed and there was this very brown and healthy looking snake slithering through the grass. CMW did attempt to catch it in a bucket so she could show it to Certain Man, and Youngest Daughter gave brave chase, but it slithered into the brush pile and was gone. Youngest Daughter shuddered again, and made noises concerning the fright and surprise, but went to the chicken houses to complete her evening chores and CMW returned to the house to hope once again for some peace and quiet and the chance to put her foot up.
And that is the news from Shady Acres where the foot doesn’t actually feel too bad tonight and CMW is going off to a women’s meeting at Eldest Daughter’s house.