Sunday, October 11, 2009

Safe at Home

This week, which those of us on the New Jersey end of the two-way lifeline have looked forward to for as long as those of us on the Wyoming terminus, is already slipping away too quickly for my taste. While it seemed as if it was only fifteen minutes ago that Margaret and I stopped at Newark Airport to pick up Rob en route to the final night of Springsteen at Giants Stadium, it was not. It is already Sunday, which means that as of this point in the day one week from this very day, Rob will be gearing up to make the trek back to Wyoming. I wanted to write "home" there as opposed to "back to Wyoming" but for the life of me, I could not.

Last night - with Margaret off with Joe in Staten Island for one of his semi-regular visits with his brothers and sister - and Suzanne and Ryan cheering on RU along the banks of the Old Rar-i-tan, this old man imposed upon my visitor from the Great American West for dinner. We ended up at what is one of our family's favorite places to eat. Originally - with Margaret otherwise engaged and Suz cheering hard for Rutgers at a game in which they hardly needed her investment of sweat equity - I presumed that Rob and I would be dining alone.

We did not. Rob's best friend for as long as I can remember, Dan, came with us (Fogelberg & Weisberg had nothing on these two). About ten minutes after we arrived and sat down, Rob's cell phone rang. Although it was only the third quarter at the RU game, they were already pounding the bejeebers out of this year's paycheck/Homecoming opponent, Texas Southern, to the point where the game held little interest for the home fans. Apparently, once Coach Schiano confirmed for them that neither Ryan nor Suzanne would be permitted to play - regardless of their performance last Sunday at the Race for the Cure - Suz and Ryan found themselves with empty bellies and free time on their dance card. Given that they were only about ten minutes away from where we were, they stopped heading home and came to join us.

The only thing missing last night - and had I suspected for a moment that the evening would have ended up as it did we would have waited for her to return home with Joe from Staten Island - was Margaret. Dan and Rob have been brothers for so long that Suz's relationship with him long ago morphed past friends and into familial as well, which means that the three of them - long familiar with one another - will and do say anything on any topic. And given the easy nature of the give and take between them and the content of the banter back and forth, Ryan slipped right into the stream alongside of them and let himself be taken by the current as well. What I half-expected to be a fairly quiet evening when the kernel of the idea popped into my brain yesterday afternoon turned into a night of a lot of laughs and any number of good stories being shared one of four ways around the table.

And as I was shaking off the day last night, and climbing into bed, I thought about what a terrific job Margaret did raising our two young adults. There was a time in the kids' young lives - during and after Margaret and their father divorced but before I popped my head above the tree line - when the challenges of day-to-day life could have overwhelmed the three of them. But they did not. Hell, they did not come close to swamping their little Kon-Tiki. Well, perhaps on more than one occasion they took a bit of water over the bow but they never capsized. And they never got moved off-course.

Me? I have had a pretty easy gig for these past two decades. I have been charged with the duty of not upsetting the apple cart. I would like to claim that it is more difficult than it appears from afar but - given the strength of character of the woman I married - I cannot credibly pull that off. We all have our mantra. Mine is, "I ain't gonna f*ck it up this time." And while I must confess that from time-to-time I am less than certain if I am successfully handling the admittedly limited responsibilities that have been entrusted to me, I stumble across a night such as last night. And I see not only Rob and Suz in action but also I see those with whom they choose to share their lives and I smile. They are both every inch their mother's child. And Margaret's height deprivation issues notwithstanding, there is not a higher hope that I would have for either of them.

If you only get to have one wish in this god forsaken world, then choose it wisely. And once you do, sit back and enjoy the rewards.

-AK

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