buy generic cytotec online no prescriptionLook, this time of year is very important to me. Y’all should know all about my passion for basketball and for The University Of North Carolina and their teams and the NCAA Basketball Playoffs. I took vacation time from my job this year just to experience again all the hoops action my lack of work and periods of unemployment provided to me most of the years and the decades prior to this one. My mission was simple. I simply wanted to relive those NCAA March Madness moments from my days of limited or no work and income.
My mission this year? Take some time off. Stay at home. Rest. And watch non-stop basketball for four days. Alone. In the manner to which I had become accustomed most of the years since my only child grew up and moved on.
My mission changed course just a bit. For the past couple of years, my home has been a new one. After thirty-eight years of living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I recently moved to Charlotte. My son and his family live nearby. From the time that I moved here, because of work, it has been impossible for me to relive the March Madness moments that helped make my years in Chapel Hill so March-special. I tried to recreate those moments this year. I failed miserably.
I watched a few games alone on the first day of the playoffs. Then I traveled the thirty minutes to my son’s home to watch the Carolina game, and others, and to stay the night. Carolina won, but compared to what followed, that win was totally irrelevant.
My son had visiting with him a dear friend to watch the Carolina game with us. He also had with him his wife’s mother, his sister-in-law, two of his sons, and his young nephew. Except for the friend, all of those guys live there at the house. Eventually and well before the end of the Carolina game, his wife, her daughter and other son and the other nephew showed up to witness the Carolina victory on that night. They, too, all live there.
The contrast between my past Chapel Hill days alone during this time of year and my days now are stark. That evening at my son’s house demonstrated the starkness of such contrasts.
We all watched the Carolina game. Our team won. But the real victory became apparent in the words used by my son that night after the game.
“This has been one of my favorite nights ever,” he said to me. “Thanks for being here, man.”
The games ended late that night. So I slept at my son and his wife’s place. The following morning, my son went about his way, and his wife went to work. They both left me in partial charge of their young teenage daughter, her slightly older cousin (a guy who has become another grandson,) the cousin’s very young and rather sickly brother, and my three young blood-grandsons. I say “partial charge” only because I was the adult present with that bunch that morning. But those really in charge were the daughter and her older cousin.
The two of them made breakfast that morning. The night before, my granddaughter told me that she would be making breakfast. “Do you need my help?” I asked her. “You always helped me all those times at my place,” I said. “No,” she replied. “I will do it. You inspired me all me all those times.”
Man. The bacon and pancakes they made provided the best and mostly timely tastes I have ever known!
Maybe I made a difference with the ones younger than that beautiful young woman a few times while I stayed with them. I tried anyway. The night before, my oldest grandson was in bed with his brothers and sister. He was crying. I asked him what was wrong. He only shook his head. He never told me. My thoughts returned to the days when his dad was that age. I could never make my young son talk when he was distressed. But like I hope I did decades ago, I tried my best to let his kid know that he can feel whatever he needs to feel. But that he must understand that I am on his side. And that he can tell me anything. Anything. Anytime. Through a twisted tear-filled smile that night, my grandson confirmed, I think, that he understood me.
I am often a silly old man. I guess those of us who reach my age and beyond are mostly silly. But for years, I have greeted very young and weak little guys by holding out my hand to accept a hand slap. And for years, once the young ones slap my hand as hard as they can, I say the same thing.
“Outchy Mama! You are strong!”
The short time I was at their home last week, I treated my youngest grandson and his young and sickly cousin no differently. Often during my short stay with them and even when I told them both good-bye the morning I left them, they each slapped my hand and said back to me, “Ouchy-Mama!”
The victories with the folks at that house during my brief time there last week were important but small ones. Relatively speaking. They were first-round wins. Carolina won an early round tournament game. My troubled oldest grandson seemed to understand me that night. My son called that one night, out of over thirty years of nights he has lived, one of his favorite ones. And the two youngest guys there are now my “ouchy-Mama” guys!
The greatest victory came the morning I left that house. My three grandsons occupied the rear seats in the back of the van I am driving these days. My beautiful granddaughter sat in the front seat next to me as we all drove to my daughter-in-law’s place of work – a drop-in day care center where the four of them would spend the rest of the day with their mom.
My granddaughter – my son’s stepdaughter – and I have shared front seats while traveling before. And just as she has done those other few times we have traveled together, she talked with me that day. The talks are serious. She talks about her dad. She talks about other serious stuff. And fun stuff, too. Those talks have always felt like victories to this old man.
On the short morning trip last week, I think she recalled the day when I first met her dad. She is soft spoken, so I am not at all sure I understood her on that trip. I think she was recalling the time her dad unexpectedly dropped by the house where she, my son, her mom and my son’s new-born child lived at the time – early on in the relationship between my son and his beautiful wife. That poor girl was so afraid of things that day. Her mom and my son were at work. It was just that young girl, her infant stepbrother and me at the house when he arrived. Her dad and I met at the door. We both diffused things. My granddaughter told me on the trip to her mom’s work last week that her dad likes my son a great deal these days. As I always tell that dear sweet young woman, again I said to her, “Tell your dad I said ‘hello.’”
Then. During the most important moment we encountered while driving to her mom’s place of work, that dear child delivered to me a victory much greater than any damned basketball game ever has. She showed me the utter folly of some twisted self imposed desire to spend mid-March days alone. Suddenly, my failure to recreate some past lonely Chapel Hill days dissipated through the crack in my car window. That dear child delivered success in ways in which only she could. Success came in the form of her sweet and simple words.
She said to me, “I really wish you lived with us.”
At that moment.
I won the National Championship!