A Crazy Plan

I was coming back down I 75 in my mother’s car, five hours into the drive.  I was “somewhere in the middle” with the radio turned up and Zachary fast asleep in the back.

I’d left Houghton early this morning, before Tom’s roommates were even awake.

I just couldn’t take it any more.  Three weeks of intermittent phone calls and letters (sweet, saucy and wonderful though they might have been) and my crazy took complete control.  I had to see him.  I wasn’t going to be able to make it until the next time he came home, which might be as late as Thanksgiving.

Things were hard at home.  My mother’s treatment was in full swing, and she was tired all of the time.  Trying to keep her mood up, making her foods that she could eat, taking care of the house and all that entailed, was exhausting.  I’d never realized how much my mother had done around the house before, even during her busiest times at work.  I’d never done laundry before; my mother always had.  I changed all of the beds, the towels, cleaned up the dog’s messes outside, washed the dishes, bought the groceries, watered the plants, vacuumed the floors.

My brother and sister would come over sometimes, to help.  But the enormity of the tasks needing to be done were lost on anyone who would come over for an hour or two.

I begged my sister to come and help with my mother’s appointments for a few days so I could go see Tom.  I figured if I had Thurs-Sunday, my sister would only need to cover two days of appointments and then there would be the weekend.  If they each came by once on Saturday and Sunday, in addition to the appointments during the week, I’d be covered.  I’d take Zachary with me to see Tom, driving all day up on Thursday, having Friday and Saturday to spend with him, and come back on Sunday.

It was a crazy plan.  Houghton was ten hours away.  It was by far the furthest I’d ever driven before, and I would do it alone with my nearly three year old son.  But as I was able to put all of the pieces into place and asked Tom if he’d like to see us, it all fell into place.

Driving back now, two thirds of the way home, I had mixed feelings on the success of my idea.  I wasn’t sure how it all had gone.  Sure, I’d loved seeing Tom and being able to place him mentally in his current location; seeing the house he lived in off campus, the campus itself, the beautiful scenery around the Keewenaw Peninsula.  He’d graciously introduced me and my son to his roommates, his friends in the area, even his mentor, the pastor from the university church.  We’d chuckled together conspiratorially when the check out girl at the grocery complimented us on the good manners of “our son”.

But I’d also seen the tiny seeds of frustration in him when I’d had to keep Zachary quiet during his previously scheduled study group.  Or when I’d spent half an hour in the bathroom with Zachary because he was still potty training.  Or when Zachary gleefully woke up at six in the morning in the little nest we’d made in his absent roommate’s lower bunk.

I wondered, when we kissed each other goodbye that morning, not knowing exactly when it was we’d see each other again, what emotions he was feeling upon our depature.  Sadness?  Relief?   Doubt?   I had a feeling there was some of all of those things in his face as I watched him slowly grow smaller in my rear view mirror.

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