Getting Away




When the children had all married and moved out, my wife and I purchased a small travel trailer, a fifth wheel we could pull with the pickup.  Well, we pulled it once.  We went to Arches National Park and had a wonderful time.  We had been alone on vacation so seldom, we were a little nervous about the confined space, wondering if we would stay friends.  But it was great, another honeymoon.  We could hardly wait for the next weekend, intending to go to Lava Hot Springs.


But our daughter Geraldine had taken on a monstrous home project, stuffing envelopes with ads, when two of her kids came down with chicken pox. So Meg and I ended up helping her stuff the envelopes that weekend.  The next weekend we  tended Eric and Donna’s kids, as we’d promised, but we planned to go the next.


We were hitching the trailer up, food and clothes packed, when Meg’s phone rang. It was Harriet telling Meg that her baby sitter just came down with flu. Unless Meg could come sit with the baby, the tailoring class she was in the middle of was off, and they had just gotten to bound buttonholes.  Naturally, Harriet couldn’t help it that the sitter was sick, so that weekend fizzled and the next and the next with similar problems coming up.


By that time, summer was running full course, and neither of us wanted to leave the garden that long.  We were installing a drip irrigation system that was following Murphy’s Law and taking twice as much time and money as we’d thought it would.  So we promised ourselves that when the system was in, the garden could take care of itself for a few days.


We planned to go fishing at Mirror Lake that August weekend.  We told my Mother and all the kids that we were really going.  I came home a little early from work that Friday, and again we packed and hitched up.  When her phone rang, I told Meg not to answer. They’d have to have their emergencies without us, but she can’t do that.  It was Sally and Bill, long-time friends, in town and wanting to come over for the evening.  So we decided to leave Saturday morning.


But her phone woke us Saturday morning.  It was Gerry.  She was sorry, she said, but she was desperate.  Could Meg come over and take care of things while she took David to the emergency room?  She thought his arm was broken.  So, of course Meg jumped in the car and hurried over there.  The arm was bruised, not broken, but it took until noon to find that out.


“I’m afraid it’s too late to go,” Meg said. “By the time we drive to the mountains, we’ll be spending an awful lot of money on gas for less than a twenty-four-hour stay! I’m starting to think that buying that trailer was the worst idea you ever had!” 


“If we could just get away from our phones.  When you start to carp at me, it means you’re overwhelmed. I’m getting more and more pressure at work.  I really need  to get away. And don’t tell me to go without you!”





Meg looked around at the oak cupboards and attractive décor. “The air conditioning here in the trailer is better than the swamp cooler in our house.  With the refrigerator, microwave, and bathroom, it feels like playing house, only this is newer and more luxurious than the house.  One of the best parts is that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t spend more than an hour cleaning it.”


We spent the evening peacefully, I with my papers, she with her cross-stitch while we listened to the stereo.  The following long, lazy morning, Meg made my favorite blueberry-nut hotcakes. 


We got in just in time to get ready for church at one. Three messages were on my phone, two from Danny last night.  He wanted us to call him because he and Rose had a chance to go to the baseball game, but their regular sitter couldn’t come.  The third was from Abby’s girl Suzie just saying hi.  A call on Meg’s was from Abby herself, last night, saying she needed to make homemade ice cream and could she come by and get some frozen raspberries because she was all out and didn’t want to go to the store on Sunday.


The telephone rang and it was Abby again, miffed because Meg hadn’t called her back.  She had her phone on speaker so I heard Abby say, “I’m sure I don’t know why you didn’t call me back!  I went by your house on the way to the store late last night and on the way back I saw the truck and trailer in the driveway, so I know you didn’t go anywhere!”



Ted and Me

Potted-Poinsettia-Plant-I’ve gotten to admire Ted a lot since I married his wife last year. Don’t get me wrong. She was a good wife to him and she’s a good wife to me. She’s made me feel almost young again.
But sometimes I wonder. See, she’s still married to Ted in a way. It was only a year after he died that we were married, and she’s had a hard time getting used to it. Things like writing her new married name—she still forgets. And she’ll call me Ted. After all, they were together for forty-three years.
We’ve both had a hard time. When I moved in, I couldn’t find a thing in any drawer or cupboard without asking her. So I fixed things up a little, and sure enough the other day, she told me she couldn’t find a thing without asking me where it is! Adjustments. But we’re making ’em.
The other day was her and Ted’s anniversary. They’d been married on December 19th, so she said she wanted to take a pot of poinsettias for his grave. We’d had fresh snow that morning, but did that stop her? No, we couldn’t put it off.
Trouble was, I wouldn’t let her ruin her health tramping about in a foot of snow in those little heeled boots she wears and I didn’t know exactly where the grave was. So there I was at the top of the rise trying to find Ted’s marker, one of those flat ones they can mow over. She was shouting directions to me from the road. I’d stomp in one direction and kick the snow away then plow through more snow, trying to find the right one. Finally, sneezing and afraid I’d catch my death, I left the flowers at the next wrong marker I uncovered, saying “Forgive me, Ted, but you’ve known her longer than I have. I know you’ll understand.”