Category Archives: Fiction

USED TOO

 

     Generally, I put on my pants just like anyone else.  First one leg-Okay, take them off.  Had started putting them on backwards.  Usually, I’m not always wide awake when I first wake up so you can understand how a guy like me could make a  simple mistake like that!  One leg on at a time, zipper in the front.  All is well.  But then, one morning, there was one thing in particular that really irritated me.  It really rubbed me the wrong way.  What caught me a little off-center was the seam running up and down the back of my work pants.  Let me explain.

     A few days earlier, I decided that it would be cheaper for me to buy my work uniforms rather than rent them.  That way, when I laundered my clothes, I had the ability to spread the dirt, grease, odors and all sorts of germs from my work place to the clothes of the rest of my family!  Yep, I could save money by owning my own dark prison blue pants and light blue, pinstriped shirts.  In other words, clothing that could also be known as ‘Picasso grease rags’.  The whole idea was that if I repaired my own buttons, furnished my own laundry soap, repaired my own rips and replaced the clothing when it became thread-bare, it would be cheaper than paying someone else to do it all for me.  Yes siree, I was going to save myself a bundle by purchasing my work clothes!

     I would be buying five sets of clothes, a set for each work day though I had never  considered what I would do if I ever had to work on a Saturday!  So, since I was on a thrifty, tightwad money-saving spree, I was not going to buy new uniforms, I was going to buy used ones.  I was offered that option.  Compared to buying new blue jeans, it would be cheaper to buy the uniforms. 

     As soon as the guy who delivered the uniforms to my other co-workers, I would talk to him about my purchase.   When he came around, I approached him and he asked me what I had in mind.   I didn’t want to sound too cheap but finally, I weasled my way around to the question of how much my uniforms would cost.  He started at $15 and I silently panicked. 

     “$15 for a pair of pants and a shirt”? I asked.

     “That’s right”, he said.  “$15 for the shirt and another $15 for the pants”.

     Let’s see; $15 times two times five would run me$150!  $150! Was he crazy?  I quickly asked him if he had anything else, something I wouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage on the White House for!

     He looked me up and down til I felt a little uneasy.  Then he confided that he could get me some Grade D uniforms.  Finally, we were talking!  Well, he was talking, I was listening.  Granted, the other guys at my work place were being rented Grade B uniforms, as I had been so how much difference could there be between Grade D and Grade B?  Of course, it still depended on how much it was going to cost me to buy my clothing before I signed on any dotted line.

     $1.50 was the price I was quoted so I asked if that was $1.50 for both the shirt and the pants to which he gave me a crusty look as well as a crusty reply. 

     “$1.50 for the shirt.  $1.50 for the pants.  $1.50 apiece!” 

     He seemed to turn up the volume when he said “apiece”.  Maybe it was just the acoustics in my head but I don’t think so! 

     I was still doing the math in my head when he said, “$15”!

     Again, the pitch level of his voice was a little bit more than I thought it should have been.  He turned and headed for his van.  As he drove off, I guess I never realized that one of those big delivery vans could turn a corner so fast and still keep it on two wheels!  

     I could hardly wait for the week to pass, the end of which would bring my new “threads” to me!  

     Sure enough, bright and early the next Friday morning, the uniform man showed up with a bundle of freshly laundered, crisp looking uniforms for the rest of the guys.  Poor suckers!  Renting when they could buy!  What losers!

     After hanging up the uniforms, the man stopped long enough to explain to me that he did not have my uniforms that day. As a matter of fact, he was hand-picking my uniforms, personally, for a guy like me.  As it turned out, I would wait another two weeks before my clothes finally showed up.  After giving me my new possessions, he again seemed to leave on two wheels, this time appearing to be laughing up his sleeve, so to speak.  (A little bit hard to do since he was wearing short sleeves.)

     Five o’clock the next Monday morning rolled around way too soon as all Monday mornings do but I was excited that the day would see me in my newly acquired clothes.  It was going to be a day I would remember, one that would stand out more than others.

     I slipped on my uniform shirt and sniffed deeply the odor of cheap laundry soap.  As I reached the top button to finish buttoning up, I noticed that there was an extra button-hole. Upon further inspection, I discovered that one of the middle buttons were missing which had caused me to mismatch about half of the buttons.  All I could do to deal with the situation was to deal with the situation like a reasoning adult should do.  I could just set that shirt aside to be repaired later, get another shirt and continue.  Or, I could….just let it go.  If I didn’t allow my shirt to ‘pooch’, the missing button was hardly noticeable.

     I went for the pants next because, well, they were the next thing I needed to put on.  Pulling them on, I immediately began to wonder if I had put them on backwards because of the uncomfortable feeling I was getting.  My left hind side was feeling a little bit restricted, more so than my right side.  Not a proper feeling.  I tried twisting the pants to the right while keeping the back seam right where it should be, directly in the center.  My left side still felt way too tight, like my pants were holding that side of my posterior in a death grip, trying to suffocate it.  Try as I might, no amount of adjusting and adjustment would remedy the out-of-balance situation.  Slowly, carefully, cautiously and awkwardly, I backed up towards the mirror on the medicine cabinet mounted in the wall above the hand sink.  That feat in itself was hard but somehow, I got the view I was looking for.  Sure enough, my back side appeared to be out of kilter. 

     By the time I had made the assessment, it was getting late enough that I needed to be heading out of the door, off to work.   On the drive there, for some reason, I kept trying to rearrange and shift and make things right but all to no avail.  The seam that had gone astray would not be tamed.  No amount of digging could fix the crooked ‘terrorizer’.  The longer the day wore on, the worse the chaffing got but I felt that no matter how bad the situation was, I could put up with it for 1/5 of my work week.  At least the other four newly purchased pants would make up for the one bad sheep of the pant flock. 

     Sadly, I could not have been more wrong.  Yes, every pair of pants were in next to new condition with few stains, rips and working zippers.  Of course!  Whoever had previously rented them had probably worn them just once before they were exchanged for pants that were fit for humans, not aliens, to wear! 

     On top of the lop-sided fitting pants, there were also the zippers that wouldn’t stay zipped, pockets without bottoms or pockets sewn shut at the top.  I could deal with my change sliding down my leg and sometimes dropping in my shoes.  I could handle not being able to put both of my hands into their respective pockets and I got in the habit of checking often for fallen zippers.  But what I could not get past was the idea that if I continued wearing such ill-fitting pants, I could be deformed on the back side for the rest of my life. 

     What did I do?  What could I do?  I endured till I wore those uniforms completely out and wouldn’t you know it?  Those were the ones that lasted me the longest in my working career. 

     Anyhow, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

     Regarding my uniforms, did I mention they were USED TOO?

YOU ARE SUCH A GARFIELD, MAX!

Of mice and men and Max.  Forget the mice and men. 

 Max thinks it’s all about Max!

 

     Max is our cat.  Originally, she was free but we have paid dearly for her ever since she first owned us.

 

      To begin with, her name is Max because, when we first got her, we thought she was a guy cat, a male.  She soon proved she wasn’t but by the time we figured out her sex, the name “Max” had stuck.  Personally, I think “Maxine” would have been just as sticky but not so with my kids so she has been “Max” ever since. 

      Max first made her appearance on our front porch as a small black ball of fluffy kitten.  Sure, she was cute but we (my wife and I) had agreed we were not going to have pets, neither cat or dog.  Of course that rule had already been broken because we already had four goldfish and a turtle.  We would not have had goldfish except for the fact that we  had bought some goldfish for the  turtle (Hank) to eat.  Hank was still rather small and for some reason, would not eat more than one or two.  Both Hank and the gold-fish continued to grow, each in separate containers of course.  So……like I said, we already had no pets!

     I was to find out later from my pre-teen son that Max, the cute, little kitty had looked so hungry that he fed it a can of tuna while I was at work.  When I came home, the kitty was still hanging around and only after much inquiry, I found out the rest of the story. My son was not the only one to feed her a can of tuna.  My wife had also fed the kitty a can of tuna as well.  No wonder the little fur ball stuck around!  When I was asked by the rest of my family if we could keep the kitten, I stuck to my guns and said, “No”.  Evidently, my guns were shooting blanks because it wasn’t very long before Max took up permanent residence on the porch!  I don’t know how many cans of tuna we went through but enough that Max saw no need to look for food anywhere else.  I’m sure she was hooked that first day she received the double dose of canned fish she had been given.

     For an outdoor, front porch cat, Max sure spent a lot of time inside but at nights, she definitely stayed outside. I am humbled to say that rule lasted less than a week .  She moved in and went from canned tuna to bags of cat food. 

     If feeding her had been the end of the expenses we incurred on Max’s account, I might have been content to write her off as just another member of the family.  As expected, the expenses didn’t stop there.  That’s where they began. 

     Not so far into her life, Max’s hormones decided to wake up.  During all hours and especially in the middle of the night, Max sent up pathetic calls hoping to attract any stray tom-cat within 500 miles of our neighborhood!  What she attracted was my wrath.  I hated the noise that emitted from the depths of her throat.  Not the cute story book, “Meow! but instead, a “Maw!  Maw!  Mawwwwwww!  MAAAAAWWWW!!!!!!!  Over and over and over again!  She would lower her front end, much like a car with hydraulics, raise her back-end, twitch her tail and bawl.    MAAAAWWWWWWW!!!!!!!   Nothing was going to satisfy her except a male which she was so desperately seeking and which we were continually shooing away from our front door.  Suddenly, tom cats came from everywhere.  Cats we had never seen before.  Cats, which would never have come near a house that had six kids of our own and loads of neighborhood kids daily.   Each one made it’s personal appearance, hoping to satisfy Max’s longings. 

     I felt compelled to help Max’s situation and mine out at the same time.  Within days, I fixed everything by having Max fixed which might I be quick to point out, cost me a bundle.  How can a few small cuts, some stitches and so forth cost so much money?  Once Max recovered, the noise quit and so did the visits from the Toms.

     And a litter box and litter, cat toys and cat nip to fill those toys.  All for a free cat!  Another expense came when distemper shots were deemed necessary.  Even after the shots, she still had a temper!

     And then there were the flea treatments.  At first, we allowed her to remain an indoor/outdoor cat.  Whenever she needed to relieve herself, we would let her out and she would use the neighbor’s flowerbed.  For some reason, that neighbor, the one she visited, the only one with a flower bed, hated us!  Whenever Max went out , for whatever reason or excuse she had, she usually came back in with visitors.  I hate fleas!  Max seemed indifferent to them, except for the constant scratching and itching.  To make matters worse, her “guests” would leave her fur to take up residency anywhere on her humans!  I grew to hate fleas even more than I had before.  Nothing says creepy more than finding fleas on one’s body!  This flea scenario happened a few times till we decided to keep Max as an indoor only cat.  Even that didn’t fully solve the flea problem though.  Our kids visited other kids who had cats.  Their cats were outdoor cats and therefore were hosts to fleas.  Some of those fleas ended up on my kids which in turn brought them home to Max and the rest of us.  Time for another flea treatment.

     But lest I digress from my original theme, (you know I already did), I must say, “You are such a Garfield, Max”!  By that I mean that we have a cat much like Garfield who doesn’t act like a cat when it comes to mice.  Garfield will not raise a paw against a mouse.  Neither will Max!  We had a mouse and I’m sure Max was well aware of it.  Did she do anything about it?  Not a thing!  I ended up buying a mouse trap to do her dirty work!

     Has Max always been so anti-cat?  No.  When she was younger, she brought in dead birds and lovingly stashed them under beds and livingroom furniture.  She always sat in the window and twitched her tail like crazy at birds and squirrels across the street.  She wanted them so badly that it almost killed her when she couldn’t go out.  Not so now days.  It’s like she retired from normal household duties and cat-like responsibilities.  She gave up her animal nature in exchange for a bowl of bagged food and another bowl of water. 

     Sometimes, when Max eats, Max pukes!  She doesn’t need the excuse of hacking up a hairball, she just does it because she can.  She will sit in the most unladylike fashion and lick herself in more places than you care to know!  When she licks, she accumulates hair and when too much hair is accumulated to pass through to the kitty box, she regurgitates it up, usually along with some freshly swallowed cat food.  Sadly, both of my girls which are still at home and my wife can not handle handling cat puke.  Their warnings are, “If we clean it up, you end up cleaning up Max’s puke and ours too”!  So yours truly gets the honor of being head puke remover.  What they fail to remember is that I gag and retch and almost vomit myself, yet somehow, I get the nasty job done anyhow. 

      And then there is the matter of the litter box.  The food Max eats and the food she digests and the food she doesn’t puke up, end up in the litter box.  Fortunately, I am not in charge of feeding her or cleaning up her litter box.  The girls are.  What bothers me about Max using the liter box is how she uses it.  She makes it to the box and everything she leaves is in the box.  Most cats dig a hole, do their thing and then cover it up.  Not Max.  She just squats, does her thing then, instead of actually covering up the movement, she paws at the air that reeks heavily of cat feces.  She paws at the wall where the smell seems to be the strongest and when the smell dissipates a little, she is  content to leave the box and her mess behind for someone else to cover up. 

     Max is now over ten years old in human years and has put on a little weight.  I too have put on a little weight over the last ten years although mine has not been due to eating bagged cat food!  Anyhow, Max has gone from lazy to lazier still.  She doesn’t romp through the house like she used to.  Usually, she likes her space and only seeks me out when I am the busiest.  She will come up to me, nudge and rub against my leg.  When I bend over to pet her, she walks a few feet away and waits.  I move up to pet het, maybe pet her once and she slinks away another few feet to where she stops again.  I stoop, I touch, she moves.  When we finally make it to the couch, she jumps up on it and waits on the back of it.  I reach to pet her and she lets me, leaning into my back rubs, ear tickling and chin scratching.  She seems to be enjoying this until out of nowhere, Max growls and takes a swipe at my hand.  The time she has made contact, I have come away with minor skin loss and major irritation.

     “Stupid cat”! I say.  She just looks at me like I had offended her last nerve.  She may have gotten her feelings hurt but I got my hand hurt.  Who got hurt worse?  I play a cat and mouse game with her and she gets mad when I play by her rules.

     My biggest fear is that if this is the first of nine lives, what do I have to look forward to in the next of her eight lives?

TRUE (FALSE) CONFESSIONS!

     I never had the full conversation you will read below and after writing it, I’m glad I didn’t.  I did “steal” my brother’s car while he was at work.  My other brother, my friend Ed and I did do cookies in the gravel parking lot of the swimming pool  and yes, the local police “caught” us.  The rest of this nostalgic story is the part that is 100% fact challenged!  In other words, it may not have happened exactly like I have written it.

     Dad, have I told you lately how great you are?  How did work go?  Glad to be home?

     I peppered my dad with questions to soften him up so that, perhaps, the consequences I might have been called upon to suffer might have been sufferable!

     You remember Keith’s car?  Funny thing happened today but I suppose you’re too busy to hear about it.  Nice talking to you. See you later!

    You know, Ed?  You like Ed, don’t you?  I do too. He’s my best friend.  I look up to him as a role model.  You know, his mom and dad are divorced but he has managed to hold it together.  He’s a really cool friend and you want me to have cool friends, don’t you?

     No comment from my dad so I proceeded.

     Well, Ed and I, we sort of did something today. Did I mention Ed comes from a broken family and never really had a dad who loved him? 

     Still no comment.

     Before I tell you what I need to tell you, I have to tell you something else.  Sometimes, I don’t know why, I have no idea why I do some of the stuff I do but I do.

     Too wordy.  Might not come through as clearly as I wanted it to.  

     What do you want this time, Ivan?

     It never was, “What can I do for you my son”? Or, “What do you need”?  or “How can I help you?”  It was always, “What do you want this time, Ivan”?

   I knew my chances were slim that I had won my father’s favor so soon in my defense of my actions so I had to deplore another tactic.  I had to go for the “sympathy factor”.  I was factoring in that if I came across pathetically enough, I might get the sympathy I needed to avoid the punishment I knew I had coming.  I began to tremble, just a little for visual effects.

     Dad, I think I have a tumor.

    You think you have a tumor?

     Yeah, I think I have a tumor and sometimes, it makes me….. do stuff.

     Stuff?  What kind of stuff?

     You know, stuff……… Just stuff.

     No, I don’t know what kind of stuff you’re talking about.

    It’s because I have a tumor.

    You already said that you know?

     Ya.

    Just where is this tumor?

     Um, it’s, it’s… it’s in my head.

      I pointed up to my head and slowly rotated my finger in circles. I also looked down to the ground and slightly off to one side. 

     In your head?  Where in your head?

     Deep, deep in my head.

     How deep?

     Like, inside my mouth!

     I opened my mouth just a crack and made my lower lip quiver just a bit.  A little spit drooled out of the corner of my mouth and I had to slurp in hard to recover it before I continued.

     In your mouth, huh?

    Ya, in my mouth.

    Where in your mouth?  Your tongue?  Your cheek?  Where?

    Um, on my tooth!

     On your tooth?  You have a tumor on your tooth?

     Ya.

     Let’s just have a look at it.  Open up and I’ll have a peek at this tumor of yours.

     You can’t.

     Why can’t I?

      Um, because it’s not there.  It’s gone.  It’s not in my mouth anymore.

     It’s gone?  What happened to it?

     Remember Ed?  He knocked it loose last night.

     Ed knocked it loose?  How did he knock it loose?

     He hit me in the mouth.

     He did?  What happened to the tumor after Ed hit you in the mouth?

     I swallowed it.

     Slowly nodding his head up and down, almost as if he were trying to understand my explanation, he continued.

     So you swallowed your tumor, last night, after Ed knocked it loose?  Okay, that means that by now, it should have passed from your stomach and should be real close to your backside right, right?

     Ya, I guess so. I mean, maybe.

      As your loving father, I feel it is my duty to do my best to see to it that that tumor is removed.

    By this time, my dad was loosening his belt like he does when he has eaten too much.  I don’t think he had over eaten lately.

     But dad, I haven’t even told you what I did.  I mean, I haven’t even finished my story.

     I’ve heard enough to know that whatever you did, it deserves some kind of justice and I’m here to administer it.  Now, what did you do?

     Like a knife had been plunged into my belly, I spilled my guts.

     Me and Ed took Keith’s car for a spin in the gravel parking lot over at the swimming pool.  

     Did Ed drive?

     No.

     Did your older brother give you permission to be anywhere near his car while he was at work?

     No.

    Do you even have a license?

     No.

    Then what made you think you could drive Keith’s car?

     I don’t know.  I guess my tumor.

     At that, Dad stopped fiddling with his belt.  Was I going to get a reprieve? If I was, it would be the first one ever that I could remember in all of my fourteen long years!

     Too-moor?

       My dad had seemed to be having a hard time saying tumor but I wasn’t about to point that out to him at that time.

   Too-moor.  Tu-moor.

     I was not going to say anything but then, Dad said it wrong the third time.  It was then, that in my infinite wisdom, I felt it was my responsibility to correct him.

     It’s tumor, Dad.  Tumor.

     No, it’s too-moor as in, I was just going to ground you for a day but you have talked me into two more.

     Again, fiddling with his belt, my dad felt like he was on a roll. 

     I think I’ll go have another piece of cake.  At least one more, maybe even two more!

101 THINGS I MAYBE SAID TO MY PREGNANT WIFE!

     Sometimes, we hubbies can be, how shall I say it? 

A little bit unsensitive maybe.  Insensitive.  Under sensitive. 

Especially  in such times as during pregnancy!            

                                                                                                                                               

     A certain part of the male human mind doesn’t always comprehend how gingerly a wife needs to be dealt with during this all important part of a marriage.  They need more of our concern and less of our lack of understanding.  More of what they want and need to hear and less of what they hear when we don’t think through what we say months in advance before we say it!

     Having been through six pregnancies myself and survived them, I feel I have some very important information to NOT pass along.  In other words, learn from my mistakes.  It will make your own nine months more survivable and you may live to become a father again!

  1. You have to go to the bathroom again?  You just went, didn’t you?

  2. Is that my bowling ball you are hiding under your dress?

  3. Hey, your underwear are a size bigger than mine!

  4. Say, you’re getting bigger all over!

  5. You’re crying just because I said your hormones are wacko?

  6. I suppose you think your being pregnant at home is worse than my going to work everyday.

  7. You’re not going to have morning sickness all nine months are you?

  8. You crave what?

  9. Of course you’re uncomfortable and can’t sleep but why should I have to suffer too?

  10. It’s three o’clock in the morning!  How come you didn’t crave this at some decent hour?

  11. Aren’t you afraid that all that chocolate is going to make you fatter?

  12. So, how long has it been since you last saw your feet?

  13. Are you sure when our wedding vows said, To have and to hold“, it wasn’t referring to your responsibilities with the children?

  14. You’re not going to cry again, are you?

  15. But you do waddle like a duck!

  16. You think you having a baby is worse than when I had my tonsils taken out?

  17. You want me to rent a truck so you can ride in the back?

  18.  You really can’t suck that gut in, can you?

  19. If you swallowed this cute little outfit, would the baby be born with clothes on?

  20. Do you have to make those annoying grunting sounds every time the baby kicks?

  21. You don’t think I could handle having a baby?

  22. What do you mean, you can’t fit behind the steering wheel anymore?

  23. It’s not over til the fat lady sings!

  24. You’re telling me that you sat down without help but now you need my help getting back up?

  25. Honey, have you seen my sign that says “Wide Load”?

  26. Okay, okay, you don’t look like a Sumo wrestler after all!

  27. I’ll quit saying, “Thar she blows” if you quit huffing and puffing every time you move.

  28. Maybe I should call a tow truck to help get you out of bed!

  29. It bothered you when I asked if you ever heard the song, “I feel the earth move under my feet”?

  30. At least if you fell in the lake, you would float, belly side up.

  31. I call it the “Belly Barrow”!  It’s my version of a wheel barrow for your belly!

  32. With the “Belly Barrow”, you can really push your weight around”!

  33. If you dyed your hair green and wore an orange shirt with a smiley face on it, you’d look just like a jack-o-lantern! 

  34. Of course you’re big but that just gives me that much more of you for me to love!

  35. Either I’m shrinking or you’re taking up a lot more of the couch than you used to!

  36. Please don’t sit on my lap right now…or for the next few months.

  37. When the baby is born, I think both of my arms may be broken so that I probably won’t be able to change the baby’s diapers.

  38. I watched you give birth to the last five kids and believe me, it’s not a pretty sight!

  39. When the baby is born, let’s send out double print pictures so everyone will think we had twins!

  40. Can’t we just tie a string to the baby’s foot, tie the other end to a door knob and slam the door to get the baby out?

  41. But newborn babies do look like raisins!

  42. But what if I really am allergic to baby puke?  What then?

  43. Could you move over please?  You’re blocking the light from the lamp!

  44. So, when I say, “Hey Hippy”, it hurts your feelings?

  45. You’ve got one maternity dress now.  How many maternity dresses do you need?

  46. The reason maternity clothes cost so much is because there is so much material!

  47. So, you’re saying that having a baby is not at all like spitting out a water melon seed?

  48. But I was just kidding when I told the photographer to get out the wide-angle lens! 

  49. But you do remind me of the Pillsbury Dough Boy!

  50. Well, sure, you are eating for two, but two whats?

  51. If this is all there is to having babies, how about a couple dozen!

  52. I still think that if we would have named the kids, “One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six”, it would have been a lot easier than coming up with six different names.

  53. I think that after you give birth to the baby, I deserve a good long break, don’t you?

  54. You mean that even turning sideways, you still can’t get close enough to the sink to the dishes?

  55. Is that really a baby in there or are you just over-eating?

  56. I suppose you don’t think I would change places with you if I could…..for a few hours!

  57. If you’re retaining so much water, how come you can’t make a trek through the desert like a camel?

  58. I could see it if I had said that you looked like a zucchini but what’s wrong with saying you look like a pear?

  59. Were those pants always that tight on you?

  60. That floor board never creaked before!

  61. What a coincidence!  Now, you’re getting heart burn from your own cooking too!

  62. You’re six months pregnant, you’ve put on some weight and you’re asking me if your face looks fat!

  63. If walking hurts your feet so much, why don’t you just lay down and I’ll roll you where you want to go!

  64. Me?  Well, ya, I was humming “Deep And Wide”.  Why?

  65. Let me review this: I go to the video store, rent Free Willy, Dumbo and Moby Dick.  I bring them home.  You cry!

  66. Your mother didn’t laugh either when I told her you were on the level because your bubble is in the middle!

  67. Let’s see, you’ll be nine months in December.  Want to be Santa Clause this year?

  68. Don’t look at it as always spilling food down your front.  Look at it as an extra shelf to catch crumbs for later!

  69. What do you mean, “You can’t catch me now but just wait”!?

  70. Look at it this way.  If we go to the beach, no muscle-bound ape is going to kick sand in my face as long as you’re there!

  71. As much as I need to go, as badly as I want to leave, I just can’t seem to move.  You’re standing on my foot!

  72. Just because you crave something doesn’t mean the rest of the family craves the same thing!

  73. You remind me of a fast-food place.  Everything is super-sized!

  74. Maybe we better not cross that bridge.  It has a weight restriction posted.

  75. I’d love to let you sit on my lap but the feeling is just now returning to my legs from the last time you sat on it!

  76. Didn’t you used to have an “outie” belly button instead of an “inny”?

  77. I don’t want you to freak out but there’s a big hairy spider on your foot.  Just kidding!

  78. What do you mean, “Once you have the baby, you’ll need something other than maternity clothes to wear”?

  79. Isn’t being pregnant fun?

  80. Just pretend you’re looking into one of those trick mirrors at the carnival that makes everyone short, squatty and fat!

  81. Have you noticed that when you sit down, your whole lap disappears?

  82. I don’t suppose you have any idea what happens to all the left-overs that disappear from the fridge each night, do you?

  83. In the fable of The Tortoise And The Hare, do you suppose the husband is the hare and the pregnant wife is the tortoise?

  84. Some day, you’ll look back on all of this and cry all over again!

  85. You should feel lucky.  Some wild animals are pregnant for a year or more!

  86. Just think.  When you pack for the hospital, you can sit on and close your own suitcase!

  87. That’s not chocolate covered spaghetti that you’re eating, is it?

  88. You really get around, don’t you?  Get it?  Get a-round!

  89. If you ever fell out of an airplane, you could use your maternity dress for a parachute!

  90. That’s quite a spread you got there, Partner!

  91. Only 47 more days til “blast off”!

  92. Let me rephrase that: No man or woman is an island!

  93. You’re lucky you’re not a wiener dog.  Otherwise, your belly would be dragging on the floor!

  94. You aren’t thinking of becoming a belly dancer, are you?

  95. Pop goes the weasel!  I mean, Pop goes the…toaster?  Pop goes the…. Poptart? 

  96. How’s my little Hunch Belly of Notre Dame doing today?

  97. If it’s twins, are you going to be pregnant for 18 months?

  98. Potholes never bothered you before you were pregnant!

  99. I just saw your “bowl of jelly” move all by itself!

  100. If you keep huffing and puffing, you’ll blow the house down!

  101. You are talking about fixing the dog, aren’t you?  Aren’t you?

     Actually, I probably didn’t use any of these (at least not out loud) so no need for anyone to want to ban me from the earth for actually being a thoughtless father.  I value my life, my wife’s feelings and the awesome privilege of being a father, especially six times over! 

Thank you my beloved wife,

Carrie Dawn.

     I have been told that a woman having a baby compares to a man having kidney stones.  My wife has had six babies, I have had two major bouts with kidney stones.  She said I owe her four more kidney stones to catch up to her.  I told her, “If you want more kidney stones, we’ll adopt the last four! 

BETSY AND IKE

     “Betsy And Ike” is a ficticious story.  I have added some pictures, (most of them are my own), hoping to portray a little bit of ‘life’ into my story.  I hope you enjoy.  Ivan

     The other day, I was driving home from work. It had been a particularly frustrating day because the boss and I were butting heads over the project I was working on. We weren’t seeing things eye to eye, which, in other words meant that he was not seeing things my way. On top of that, I had been fighting with my wife all week.

 

Why I was in such a hurry to get home to my wife was beyond me. I was certain that another fight would be lurking in the shadows of my already cloudy horizon but I didn’t know what else to do.

Fighting with my wife had become a way of life more often than I wanted to admit. Evidently, we weren’t seeing eye to eye either. It just seemed like the stresses of my life were adding up faster than I could deal with them. If something didn’t change real soon, I was afraid that I was going to lose it. I was about to blow a gasket
It was a good thing it was a Friday. I was so ready for the weekend. Monday through Friday, I belonged to the boss but Saturdays were mine!

I was planning on sleeping in as late as I could and when I finally did get up, I would do exactly as I wanted to do. As for Sunday, well, Sunday was supposed to belong to the Lord.

Sunday was the day when the wife and I went to Church and pretended that everything was alright when we both knew it wasn’t.

But, at Church, we could hide behind our hypocritical smiles and pleasantries and nobody would know the difference. Nobody but God.


As I pondered that thought for as short of a time as I could, it suddenly dawned on me that the coming Sunday was going to be Mother’s Day, of all things!

Mother’s Day could not have come at a worse time though I knew full well that it always came the same time every year. It was beyond me how I was going to get through it.
With my mind on my troubled situation, I stabbed the gear shift of my sports car into a higher gear and sped for home.

Absorbed in those thoughts, I was snapped back to reality by the sound of a siren blaring behind me.                                                                                          Looking in my mirror, I saw the flashing red lights of a police car.


“Please let him be after someone else,” I thought but when I glanced down at my speedometer, I became painfully aware that he was after me.
Pulling over, I waited to see what I was in for. As it turned out, I ended up getting a ticket for doing seventeen miles over the posted speed limit. The cop handed me the ticket and I wadded it up, shoving it into my shirt pocket. Suddenly, I was mad at myself for speeding, mad at the cop for giving me a ticket and mad at the whole world in general. I was madder than I had been when I had left from work that day.
I started the car up and revved the motor heavily as the cop drove away, hoping he had not heard my hot-headed form of rebellion. I pumped the gas pedal several more times, none of which were necessary, but like a child, I was showing everybody just how mad I was about what had just happened.


It was then that I first noticed the old man. He was sitting on a bench not more than ten feet away from me. In his hand, he was holding a single carnation. He must have been waiting for a bus and had most likely been setting there the whole time. He had seen me get the ticket.
“I hope the old Geezer got his money’s worth,” I thought to myself. As I shoved the car into first gear, I gave him a dirty look and romped on the gas several more times. If the old man wanted a show, a show he would get! One he would likely not forget for a long time, if he lived for a long time, which I highly doubted he would.
Giving him one last crusty look, I laid rubber, smoking my tires as I left. The blue-black cloud drifted over to where he was sitting and in my mirror, I saw him pull out a cloth handkerchief and cough into it. Just before I lost him in my mirror, I saw him struggle to his feet and slowly walk down the street, the same direction in which I was going.
“You are so stupid”, I said silently but I was not talking to or about the old man. I was talking to myself. How could I have done what I just done?
“Shut up”! I said, this time talking out loud to myself. “Oh well, it didn’t matter” I thought, “because I probably would never see the old man again“.
But then, my mind brought back an uneasy memory. I was sure I had seen him before and I probably would see him again. With a car like mine and the actions I had just displayed, he was not likely to forget me or not notice me the next time. The more I thought about him, the more I knew I had seen the man before. As a matter of fact, I had seen him many times before. I had flown by him often on my way home. He was always sitting on one of those benches, waiting for a bus to come by and pick him up. That seemed to be a regular thing with him. But something seemed different that day. I recalled that usually, there was someone else waiting with him. A lady. An old lady used to sit beside him. Where was she? I had not seen her in a long time.


As I thought about it, I justified myself by thinking she wasn’t my problem and as far as that went, neither was he. They both meant nothing to me.
But as I drove on, I realized that I had slowed my pace down from what it had been when I had first left the office. Partially due to the fact that one ticket a day was enough for me but also, for some reason I couldn’t keep my mind from thinking about the old man. Everyday, or almost everyday, I would see him waiting on a bench. Waiting to die, I guessed but he had not died. Over the past year or so, I had seen him pretty often.
The more I thought about him, the more it bugged me. It really bugged me. It should not have, it did. An old man. That’s all he was. An old man. An old man. An old man….sitting…all by himself.
Even as I turned the car around, I told myself that I owed him nothing.

He was not my responsibility. He probably had people to take care of him. And besides, what was I going to do, apologize? Like I was going tell him, “Hey man, I saw how that jerk treated you so I beat him up and took his car for you”! Truth was, I had been a jerk and for some reason, I was beating myself up mentally.
What was I doing? What was I thinking? What was I going to say? He probably wasn’t even there. Secretly, I hoped the bus had already come and had picked him up.

 That way, I wouldn’t have to face him. That way, the next time I went by him, I would speed by him, lawfully that is, and look the other way.
No such luck. Not that day. Evidently, the bus was not running on schedule, as usual. I hated bus drivers!


The old man had made it about six blocks from where I had left him in a cloud of rubber smelling smoke. He was sitting on a bench just as he had been sitting on the other one. I figured I would just make a u-turn and pull up beside him. He would never see me coming but as everything seemed to be going that day, that didn’t go according to my plans either. Even without the loud exhaust sound of my car, the old man had spotted me and was watching my every move as I turned around. He continued to watch me until I had pulled up beside him and shut off the motor. He said nothing.

He hardly moved, except for his eyes, which seemed to be piercing a hole in my very soul. I just looked back at him, not knowing what to say.
“Hi,” I said though it sounded quite lame.
“Good evening,” he replied then sat in silence once more. He hardly blinked and when he did, it gave me a little more assurance that he was not dead. What seemed like an eternity of uncomfortable silence passed before I spoke up again.
“Hi. I’m…..I’m…” I couldn’t get it out. I couldn’t say my name. What if he called me in for throwing smoke from my tires in his face? I couldn’t risk that so I started again.
“Hi. I’m sorry……” My voice trailed off because I didn’t know what to say next.
“Good evening, Sorry”, he said.
“Oh, my name’s not ‘Sorry’,” I stammered, trying to bring him up to speed. “What I mean is that I’m sorry about that jerk that sped off a few minutes ago.”
“Oh, that ‘jerk‘,” he said back. “Does ‘that jerk’ have a name that isn’t “Sorry“”? he asked.
At that point, I figured, “What does it matter? If he turns me in, he turns me in“. My day was going crummy, just like my whole week had. In fact, the whole of last year had been crummy the more I thought about it.
Rather embarrassed and quite sheepishly, I told him my name. He told me his and once more I said I apologized for my actions. Just as I was about to go, I nearly jumped out of my skin.  From directly behind me, the loudest horn I had ever heard, sounded. Looking in my mirror, I saw the biggest bus I had ever seen, right on my tail! The driver was resting his chin in the palm of one hand while the fingers of his other hand steadily drummed on the steering wheel.


“What’s he doing here”? I asked the old man.
Looking at his watch, the old man said, “He’s driving his bus and he’s right on schedule, as usual. You’re in his spot.”
“Are you waiting on him”? I asked.
“Not anymore,” he told me. “Now, he’s waiting on me.”
“How about I give you a lift”? I asked without really thinking first before I spoke. I was hoping he would refuse, that he would get on the bus and we’d both be on our way. Separate ways, no less.
The old man just looked at me and I knew what the answer would be. “Not on your life! Not on my life”!
His only response was, “Wait here”, then he shuffled over to the open door of the bus. Though I couldn’t quite hear what they were saying, the next thing I knew, the driver was pulling the bus out around where I sat in my car, in his spot. He waved at me like we were the best of friends, which I knew we were not. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I had recklessly pulled in front of a bus, honked at a bus, shook my fist at bus drivers and so on. He had probably been on the receiving end of my nastiness more than once and just like with the old man, who could forget a car like mine?
After the bus had pulled completely away, the old man just stood there, looking the car over. Finally, it hit me that he was waiting for me to open the door. I leaned over and pushed it open for him. He stood a little longer then said, “I thought it would open by itself, as fancy of a rig as this is”.

“It’s not that fancy”, I said as he slid into the seat. He looked so small and it seemed like the seat was going to swallow him up.
“Yeah, there are cars that are fancier than mine”, I said, just making polite conversation.

“I suppose I have to buckle myself up too”, he said as he buckled himself in. He still had not closed the door so I got out, went around and closed it for him. He didn’t seem to notice as he was totally taken up by the inside of the car.
“This sure is a sweet ride”, he commented.
“Sweet ride?”, I repeated in my mind. Since when does an old man call a car a “sweet ride”? It didn’t matter who said it, it was a “sweet ride”.
Slowly, gently and as smoothly as possible, I pulled away from the curb, careful to not spin the tires. He looked over at me and asked innocently, “What? No smoke this time?”
I shook my head and smiled at him. “No, no smoke. Not unless you want some smoke”, I said, jokingly. I took a long look at him, not knowing what to think.  His expression did not change.
“Are you serious”? I asked. His steady gaze into my eyes was all the answer I needed. When he cinched up his seatbelt, I knew for sure just how serious he really was.
Amazed, I looked for the next safe place to pull over, which just happened to be another bus stop. Before I pulled in, I checked my mirror first to make sure a bus was not going to be blasting his horn at me for stopping in his spot.

 


“This driver’s always late”, the old man said when he saw me checking out the bus stop.
I waited a moment for some of the traffic to clear because what I was about to do was, shall we say, not the most lawful. Nor was it the wisest either, but the old man had asked for it.
I revved up the engine several times, none of which impressed the old man any more then, than it had earlier at the stop where I had first seen him. None-the-less, I stomped on the gas, let my foot off of the brake and popped the clutch, all at the same time, setting the wheels in motion. As it turned out, I was well on my way to one of my best burn-outs I had ever accomplished!
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the old man trying to get a look in the mirror on his side of the car. The force of the forward motion of the car made it slightly difficult for him to do because he was being held so tightly against the back of his seat.
Again, just for the old man, I managed to burn rubber in a couple of gears but because of the congestion of the traffic we had caught up to, I had to back off of the gas pedal. There was no longer sufficient room to continue in my performance but I was pretty sure the old man had seen enough.


I tried to blend my car in with the rest of the traffic but a car like mine was hard to hide. Due to the large amount of blue/white smoke behind us, most of the cars had slowed down, not knowing what was on the other side of the smoke screen we had just left. At that point, all I wanted to do was put as much space between us and what I had just done.
“Stinks,” the old man said, breaking his silence.
“Stinks”? What stinks? I could not believe the old man did not approve of my “smoking the tires”, and that, just for him! I had probably burnt off fifty dollars of rubber from my tires and I didn’t run on cheap tires! Then I saw the old man waving his hand from side to side, fanning the air around him. There was a slight hint of blue colored smoke in the air of the car along with the odor of burning rubber. So that was what he was referring to! The smell of the smoke. The smile on his face assured me that I had done a good job and that he approved of it after all.
Trying to hide the pride I was feeling, I asked, “Where are we going”?, hoping we had not passed up his destination blocks ago.


“To visit with my wife”, he said, rather quietly. Then, with a bit of excitement in his voice, he asked me, “Would you like to meet her”?


“Sure”, I said though I didn’t really want to. But then again, I wasn’t really looking forward to getting home where more likely than not, I would be facing the possibility of another fight with my wife. That seemed to be my Friday night routine. And Saturday and Sunday and so on.
The way the night was going though wasn’t fitting my normal routine. First, the ticket, in front of the old man, then picking up the old man, peeling out for the old man and finally, taking the old man to his wife. What the old man would do after I dropped him off was not my concern. I was just doing my “good Samaritan act” by giving him a ride in the first place. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. I didn’t owe him anything.
But then again, since I had agreed to meet his wife, I couldn’t just drop him off at the front entrance of his place like I had hoped to do. I felt a little bit like a politician. Kiss the babies, shake the hands of old men and hug the old ladies. After I had done my “good deed”, then I would be gone, never to be seen again.
We ended up passing the bus the old man would have ridden on if I had not volunteered to take him to his destination. As we drove by, the old man and the driver exchanged hearty waves. He watched me closely as he waited in his bus stop as I drove off with the old man.


“You just let me know where we’re going”, I said, noting that we were almost to the city limit sign.

 Surely he lived nearby because there were no buses that ran much farther than where we were at.


Still, I drove on a bit more before he had me pull off onto a dirt road.     

 

                        

 “Great”, I thought, “I just washed the car“!
Keeping it clean, I soon found out, was going to be the least of my worries. On the other hand, keeping the muffler on was going to be my biggest problem.              

 The old man spoke what had become painfully obvious.
“Your ride sits kind of low, doesn’t it”?

 
I didn’t reply to his observation but concentrated on not ripping off the whole under-carriage of my low-slung car.

I was relieved when at last, we came to a gate.

I looked in all directions, searching for a house but I didn’t see a single one. 

 

What I did see were gravestones.

We had evidently taken the wrong road and had ended up in front of a country cemetery. Obviously, the old man had gotten us lost, which didn’t surprise me at all.

Frustrated, I put the car into reverse, preparing to leave when I noticed the old man was unbuckling his seatbelt.
“What are you doing”? I asked.
“We’re here”, he said. Then searching around the inside of the car, he asked, “Where’s the door handle”?
I put the car in neutral, sat the parking brake, shut off the engine and reached over the old man to open the door for him. By the time I got out and around to his side of the car, he had already climbed out. He gently held the carnation in his hand as I locked the car doors.


“Who do you think is going to steal it”? the old man asked. He had a valid point because there was no one anywhere. Feeling rather foolish that I had locked them, I replied, “Habit, I guess”.
“I guess”, he echoed.
“Where to now”? I asked as I continued to look for some small house, hidden away somewhere just out of sight.
“In there”, he said, pointing beyond the cemetery gate. I noticed that there was a lock on the gate which meant that we were going to have to climb the gate to get in. I was in a suit that cost over $500 dollars but I figured that if the old man could climb the gate, so could I, expensive suit or no suit.
I took the lead, climbing up to the top of the gate which was where I was when I heard the old man fiddling with the lock. The next thing I knew, the gate was swinging on its hinges, taking me with it. It picked up a little momentum and when it came to the end of it’s swing, it hit a post and just about threw me to the ground.

I saw that the old man was grinning as he looked at me. “Sweet ride?” he asked.
“Sweet ride”, I repeated. It’s funny how, as a kid, I used to enjoy riding a gate like I had just done. As a full-grown man, I did my best to hide how much I still enjoyed it. All but the jolting stop. That hurt a bit.
I was somewhat embarrassed at what had just happened and it didn’t help matters any when the old man dangled something from his hand for me to see. He said, “They gave me my own key….for my sweet ride”.
I climbed off the gate and sheepishly pushed it back to where it had swung from. The old man, having entered normally, re-locked the gate. I looked at him, he looked at me then he asked, “Ready to meet my wife?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be”, I said as I tried to brush some rust from my suit pants I had picked up from the gate.
I followed him along a well-worn path that led away from the gate, through the grass, into the heart of the cemetery.

I still wasn’t sure what was going on until suddenly, like a bolt of lightning out of the blue, it came to me. I was going to meet his wife….in the cemetery. His wife was….dead and we were going to visit her grave.

Looking down on the path we were walking on, I realized it must have been the old man’s constant coming and going that wore the path.


I felt real ignorant because it had taken me so long to catch on to what we were about to do. It felt a knot was forming inside of my stomach and I wanted to turn and follow the path back to the car as fast as I could. I didn’t want to meet his wife after all but I had already made a commitment of which I could not back out on.
The old man must have noticed my hesitation because he stopped and asked, “Are you sure you still want to meet my wife after all”?
I tried to sound convincing with my answer.
“Sure”.
I stumbled all over myself when I asked, “How long has she been……How long has your wife been…..deceased? Gone, I mean!”


His reply was, “My dearest sweet Betsy has been gone eleven months and twenty-seven days. This Mother’s Day will be one year.”
After a moment of silence, he then added, “Much too long”. We continued a bit further down the path.
I looked at the old man, who seemed to be overwhelmed with grief and loneliness. He looked so small and frail. For almost a full year, he had been coming to this cemetery to “visit” his wife.
Even before we were actually at her grave, I picked it out. Two things gave it‘s location away. One was that the well-worn trail ended at her grave. The second was because of the stack of dried carnations that were neatly stacked on the ground next to her stone. I estimated that there must have been several dozen carnations there, each in a different state of decomposition. Those on the top were the freshest and the least wilted and dried. Those on the bottom of the stack were crumbly, moldy and turning back into soil.
“Hello, my Beloved Betsy”, he said lovingly as he knelt in front of her grave. Then nodding slightly in my direction, he said, “I brought someone with me.”


I stood there in silence, quietly, almost reverently waiting. It all seemed a bit eerie and I begun to feel uneasy, just standing there, staring at his wife’s gravestone. What was I going to do next?
Then old man turned to me and with a smile, he said, “I figured you could introduce yourself and tell her a little bit about you.”
“What? Me”? I asked in surprise.
“Don’t see anyone else here, do you“?, he asked. There’s just me, you know and I don’t know you as well as you know you. Besides, she hears from me every day.”
Still stammering and stuttering, I questioned “Me? I, I don’t know. I wouldn’t know what to say. I’ve never talked to, um, I’ve, uh, I’ve never spoke to, um…”
“You’ve never spoke to my wife before? If I were you, I’d begin by telling her who you are, like I suggested in the first place. That would be a good place to start.”
When I still hesitated, the old man put a clincher on the deal.
“Here, you give her her flower. She would have liked that. Carnations have always been her favorite flower, even before we got married.”


Handing the carnation to me, he encouraged me, saying, “Go ahead.”
Directing his attention to her gravestone once more, he said, “My Beloved, I’m going to do a little tidying up around here while you two get better acquainted. I‘ll be back shortly”
Having said that, he left me standing there, holding a solitary carnation in my cold, sweaty hands. The old man went to a nearby grave and began pulling weeds and sprigs of grass that were needing to be removed.


Glancing around, I noticed that every grave within eyesight of his wife’s grave had been plucked clean of stray weeds and grass. Not really knowing what to say, I began by doing what the old man had suggested. I introduced myself. Try as I might, I was still having trouble saying more because I had never done anything like this before.
From near by, the old man said, “Go ahead and tell her a little bit about yourself. She always liked to meet new people. Never a stranger in my wife’s life”, he said proudly.
“And give her her flower, before you kill it”, he cautioned.
I laid the carnation on top of the freshest carnations in the bunch that were already there. I then tried to tell her a little bit about myself but it felt so awkward that there were long periods of silence. Fortunately, for me, the old man came back with a handful of grass and weeds he had just pulled.

Handing them to me, he said, “We’ll throw these over the cliff on our way out.”
He dusted off his shirt and the knees of his pants and spoke to Betsy.
“He isn’t much of a talker, is he? Officer Thomas doesn’t think he’s much of a driver, though he did get me here, safe and sound”, he said with a chuckle. I even had to laugh at that.
He continued speaking.
“He’s does have a sweet ride. Did he tell you about his sweet ride?”
He looked back at me and I shook my head ‘no”. He turned back and continued the conversation with his wife as if she was alive and right there in front of him.
“Did you see that sunset last night? Wasn’t it beautiful?

The days are getting longer now and the flowers are blooming.

The trees are budding too.

Remember how we used to wake up to the sound of robins every morning?

They’ve built another nest, out in your favorite tree and they still try to wake me up every morning.

What they don’t know is that I’ve already been up long before the sun comes up. I just don’t sleep like I used to.”
I could hear the weariness in his voice but he recovered quickly and continued.


“Burt, my bus driver says, ‘Hello’ and the girls down at the grocery store say, “Hi’. Everyone down at the Senior Center always asks how I am doing and keep an eye on me. Of course, not like you did.”

The old man stopped and I could tell he was deeply absorbed in memory. When he spoke again, his voice was shaky and his hands trembled.
“Give Johnny, our boy, my love.

Me and his fellow Vets are taking real good care of his site and making it look real nice.”


His next words were hard for me to hear and a huge lump formed in my throat, threatening to choke me.
“I am so proud of what he did.”      

                      

 The tears that started welling up in my eyes couldn’t be helped. The old man’s voice was slightly more than a whisper.
He went on to say, “My Beloved Betsy, I miss you so much and it hurts so bad. How I wish you had not gone away but it’s okay. Keep watching and keep holding on. I’ll be coming home soon enough.”


I could hold back my tears no more and let them fall freely. Through my tears, I saw Betsy’s name, the date of her birth and her death on the gravestone. Next to her name was the old man’s name, the date of his birth and a spot to be filled in upon his death, after he joined their son, Johnny, and her.
His name, I found out was “Ike” and between their names, the words, ‘I love you’ were etched in the stone. Below those words, there were four other letters. They were ‘AHAW’, which I could not figure out.
The old man, Ike, did one last thing before he go up from where he had knelt. Kissing the fingertips of one of his shaking hands, he then placed those finger tips on her name.
He softly said, “I love you, Betsy. Always have, always will.”
As he rose, his tears slid down his wrinkled face, falling on her grave. My own tears and sobs gave away that I had been deeply moved. Had Ike not turned to go, I would have cried out loud, like a baby.
Silently, we walked to the edge of the cemetery till we were at the edge of a cliff.

I tossed the weeds and grass Ike had given me earlier then we walked back down the path to where the car sat.

I waited patiently while Ike unlocked the gate. Then, he locked it up after us.
Still in silence, we drove back down a pleasant, shady lane which had seemed such a menacing threat to the under-carriage of my car on the trip in.

As we entered the city, somehow, it looked warm and inviting, not hectic and busy like I had always seen it before.

Even with the steady flow of frazzled commuters trying to get home, I felt calm.

 For the first time in a long time, I noticed that the flowers were, in deed, blooming and the trees budding, just as Ike had told Betsy they were.


Much to my delight, I happened upon the spot where the bus drivers take their breaks at the end of the line before they returned to the heart of downtown.


I probably broke a cardinal rule or two by pulling into the small parking area that was clearly marked, ‘BUSES ONLY’ but I had to take the risk.

 

Fortunately, at that time of evening, there was only one bus there. What I wanted to do wouldn’t take long.
“You must be Burt”, I said excitedly to the bus driver as I stood just inside the open door of the bus.

Ike waited in the car. A mountain of a man got up out of his seat and slowly extended his hand to shake my hand.
“That would be me,” he said as his over-sized hand swallowed up my own in a firm handshake.
I explained what had just had happened and asked him if he knew what Ike’s address was so I could take him home. He said he didn’t rightly know because Ike had always insisted on getting off in front of the Senior Center. Ike had assured Burt that the Center had a van which took him home when he was ready to go.
I thanked him for the information and turned to leave.
“Just a minute”, Burt said in his thunderous voice. 

 He motioned for me to get back on the bus and when I did, he gave me a big bear hug which I was not expecting. He could have crushed me in those arms if he had wanted to but he didn’t.
We exchanged phone numbers then Ike and I were on our way to the Senior Center. Most of the way there, Ike was humming a tune, the words of which I failed to recall until he softly sang a little bit of the song.
“Oh do you remember sweet Betsy from Pike,”
“Who crossed the prairie with he lover Ike?”
That’s what it was. Sweet Betsy From Pike”.
I dropped Ike off at the Senior Center and made my way towards home.

From then on, over the next few weeks, I made sure I left work on time so that I could take Ike to see his wife. In doing so, I found out more about him and Betsy and they found out more about me. Things like how I had stopped fighting with my wife and how we had one of the best Mother’s Days ever. It was only after I shared that with him that I realized how painful Mother’s Day must be for him because of Betsy’s death. He assured me that he and Betsy had also had a wonderful Mother’s Day together as well.
As Father’s Day rolled around, I made special arrangements for my wife and I to pick up Ike and take him to our church.

He seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself and everyone at church was happy to meet him. They were all so glad that he had come that morning. My wife and I were overjoyed and decided that if he wanted us to, we would make it a habit to pick him up and bring him to church with us.


When I presented the idea to him, I was crushed by his answer. He told me that he didn’t think he would be back. I didn’t understand why but I wasn’t going to push it. Not on Father’s Day. I just let it go.
The next day though, I got a disturbing call. It was Burt, the bus driver. He said he had not seen Ike that day and when he had stopped in to see the ladies at the grocery store, they said they had not seen him either. He had not been in to get his usual carnation. Someone from the Senior Center went to check up on him and had found that he had passed away the day before.                                                             

 Burt, my wife and I and a few ladies from the store were all that attended his funeral. Ike had told me that all of his family and relatives had already gone on before him. He was the last one left.
After the funeral, it dawned on me why Ike had said he wouldn’t be back to our church. Evidently, he sensed that on that day, Father’s Day, his time on earth was close to being up.

He must have known that he was going to be with his beloved Betsy and their son, Johnny real soon. She had died the a year earlier, on Mother’s Day and Ike had died on Father’s Day.                  

From that day til the present, I have visited Ike and Betsy’s grave every chance I could. I would talk to both of them and tell them of beautiful sunsets and long days we were having. I told them of blooming flowers and budding trees and robins that sang early in the morning. I passed on the greetings from Burt and the grocery store ladies and their friends from the Senior Center.

 I mentioned Johnny and the other Vets and then I told them how much I missed them.

I assured them that they needed to keep watching for me and holding on because someday, I too would be joining them.

I didn’t even try to hold back my tears. They fell freely as I placed two carnations at the base of their headstone.
The last thing I did before I left their grave was to kiss the fingertips of both of my hands. I then placed my finger tips of one of my hands on Betsy‘s name and my fingertips of my other hand on Ike‘s name.
Then I said, “I love you, Betsy. I love you Ike.”


Bringing my hands to the letters, “AHAW”, I said, “Since I met you, I love both of you. Always Have, Always Will.”