Monday, March 29, 2010

Meeting Payton Dean

There was no hyacinth smelling on Thursday. I opened the bedroom draperies that morning to rain. Later I saw from the deck that two or three more hyacinths had bloomed, but I didn’t wander down there. It continued raining all day as I prepared for our Friday get-away to belatedly celebrate Gerald’s birthday. Since we didn’t get to go to Knoxville last weekend, we were going to Lexington, Kentucky, to see the Georgia softball team play the University of Kentucky. When I went to town after lunch, I did not have an appointment and feared my favorite hairdresser might leave, so I went to the shop first.

Using the biggest umbrella we have to go in and out there, I stayed fairly dry. Next I visited with Katherine, and that didn’t involve much time from car to house. Then I picked up prescriptions and bought necessary bananas at Kroger. The rain was so hard that my shoes and stockings were wet from wading the accumulated water in the parking lot, and my raincoat was soaked through. As I left town and filled the car with gas, the heavy rain and strong winds continued and swept in to finish drenching my raincoat and demolishing my new hairdo. No, I had not been thoughty enough to bring an old-fashioned plastic scarf for my head. (For those of you fortunate enough to have known the late Arthur Farmer, the word “thoughty” was his.)

Friday the rain was over and Gerald, who had worked all day Thursday in his shop, was still out there struggling to finish the softball batting tees that he wanted to deliver to Gerry on Saturday. I not only had time to smell the hyacinth, but I chose the prettiest pink one for the kitchen table and insisted Gerald take time to smell it too.

Our goal was to get away after lunch, but it was more like 4:30 by the time we left Marion to head to I-64. Gerald had four tees completed and a new top for one of the old ones, but he didn’t dare paint them without enough time for them to dry. Gerry assured him that was just fine—that he and Geri Ann would paint them. The trunk and back seat was needed for the tees and our luggage.

We made it to Corydon, Indiana, for dinner at Cracker Barrel with a Christmas gift certificate and spent the night there. The sign in the motel parking lot said that Corydon was the first Indiana capitol established in 1816. Gerald has fond memories of Corydon and Louisville because of the many years that he and his brothers and various nephews traveled to the farm show. They did not get off their farms often in those days, but they enjoyed this annual event that developed its own traditions, such as Gerald dancing the “old soft shoe” where they lodged at some point in the night. They wanted one meal at a Corydon restaurant, where a woman there reminded the boys of their mother. Of course, that restaurant has been closed a long time ago, but Gerald enjoyed the reminiscing as we drove along.

After a good night’s sleep and breakfast at our motel, we were on our way to Lexington. After crossing the Ohio River and as we neared Lexington, the “horse capitol of the world,” we enjoyed seeing the fenced pastures on the rolling hills with beautiful horses or sometimes herds of cattle grazing on the bright spring grass.

We were staying in touch with Tara, who was traveling down from Aurora with the new baby, Payton Dean, and with his brothers Aidan and Maddux. In fact, that was the only good thing about having to cancel our trip last weekend. We had learned that Tara could no longer wait to show off their new son and she would be at the Lexington games. Vickie and Geri Ann are still going up to Aurora at Easter and spring-break time as originally planned before Payton decided he needed to see this world now, but Gerry can’t go with them. He was able to make acquaintance along with Vickie and
Geri Ann with his new grandson this weekend, and he was one proud grandparent.

Those three boys made the weekend very special for all of us. We are amazed at Tara’s mothering skills and the competent way she copes with her three sons. Aidan, almost four, had been up at 4 a.m. before anyone at their house, Tara said, because he was hyped for this trip. Before the day was over, he had not only attended two ball games, but he had also swam in the hotel pool twice with Geri Ann. Maddux, fifteen months, did not like the pool, but he played his harmonica for us and showed off his attention span and developing vocabulary until Gma Vickie finally had to hide the bottle of bubble solution because she was worn out from blowing for him. He even managed to blow a few himself, which I thought was as surprising as his harmonica blowing.

After locating the hotel where the team was staying but not connecting with anyone, we had started toward the softball stadium when we heard a honk and saw Vickie and Geri Ann driving in the same direction. We pulled over and followed them to a restaurant for their breakfast/lunch. We decided we better get a sandwich also since it would be a long time until dinner. After finding the softball stadium (always a challenge in a new city), we went on to the find a seat in the bleachers.

Tara and the boys had not arrived yet, so Vickie stayed available at the park to help her when they arrived and to see Payton for the first time. I am sure that meeting will always be a special memory to Vickie; for their family, meeting at a softball field could not be more appropriate. Tara has spent large amounts of time on a field since she was seven or eight and played on her first team with her little sister Erin playing in whatever sandpile or playground was available until she began playing on her own team at five. It was a boy-girl team in Marion that did not keep score. Geri Ann began going to games as an infant just as Tara’s sons have.

As loyal a fan to Georgia softball as Vickie is, she spent most of her afternoon playing in the grassy area beside the bleachers and back of the dug out with Aidan and Maddux. Of course, she was also keeping up with the games as well as she could. She had lots of help since others wanted to play with the kids too. Both boys were dressed in their Georgia red and black outfits and had a ball and a tiny bat as well as a willing teammate with their grandmother. Gerry could not resist being there too during breaks.

During the first game, Geri Ann had the honor of holding Payton, also dressed in Georgia regalia, but so bundled up with blanket and shawl that not many saw his finery. Tara went from son to son as need arose but also watched the games sometimes, where one of her summer players from Southern Force was on Kentucky’s team and one on Georgia’s team.

Guess who held Payton during the second game? Great grandmother Sue! Following instructions, I kept him completely covered. As long as he was wiggling a tiny bit or breathing so I could tell it, it felt wonderful to hold and sway a mite with this tiny swaddled infant. If it had been awhile since I’d checked and he wasn’t making gentle breathing noises, I would lift the shawl and make sure his little mouth and nose had plenty of air space and he was as content as he felt. Of course, I loved every peek. I adored the little mouth, the tiny nose, and the mass of dark brown hair showing out from under his bright red Georgia bulldog hat. Satisfied he was breathing properly and feeling guilty I’d cheated by looking, I’d pull the shawl back over and continue swaying, and I would tell him how fine I thought he was.

We won the first game 4 to 2 and thought we were going into a tie game with the second one. In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Wildcats hit a two-run homer and the game was over 4 to 2 in their favor. Not a pleasant ending for us, but I am sure it was for the woman in the blue T shirt proclaiming, “Beat Georgia.” We went back to the hotel and were able to unload the batting tees into the team bus. No one wanted to have to go back out, and Aidan needed to swim.

Eventually Vickie ordered pizza and we all ended up in our room. Vickie said the woman on the phone told her this Mad Mushroom special was large. It was humongous and so was the large box of cheese bread—biggest boxes I’d ever seen and more than our four generations could eat. But everyone made room for the pretty decorated cupcakes Vickie had made for Gerald’s birthday—the first birthday cake he had in this dragged-out recognition of his attainment of 80 years.

In addition to eating, the evening was spent sadly rehashing our two games, watching the Kentucky basketball Cats lose to West Virginia on TV, playing with Aidan and Maddux, and admiring Payton until his mother took him into the other room and fed and swaddled him and finally everyone went to their own rooms.

At the breakfast dining room this morning, we all met and visited again. Payton was wide awake and we took turns holding him. Rain had been predicted, and it had already started. But the game would not be called until nearer the l o’clock game time. Gerald had slept eight wonderful hours without waking, he said, but he really was not feeling well. If the game was called off, there was no point in our staying; and if it was played in drizzle, we knew Gerald did not need to be in that.

We were dressed to find a church somewhere and worship before the afternoon game, but we made the decision to give everyone a final hug and kiss and start towards Illinois. If we saw a church somewhere along the highway we might stop—something we like to do. But Gerald really was not up to attending with his cold seeming to take a turn for the worse. (Or maybe he was just rightfully tired out after all the work in the shop this week despite his cold and then driving to Lexington.) Anyhow we did not pull off the highway to look as we drove through rain off and on all the way home. At least it was not difficult driving.

We stopped for lunch at a roadside Denny’s that had replaced one we had gone to many years ago. The old one was special because it had a clear plastic bee hive built into the outer wall of the dining room that allowed you to see the bees working.

Back on the road, we learned by phone that it had cleared off in Lexington and softball was being played. We reached Woodsong about 3 in the afternoon--tired but jubilant because Georgia had played good softball today and won the third game 16 to 5. It was a fine weekend although I am making suggestions that maybe Gerald will need to see about an antibiotic. Everyone seems to report that this particular cold hangs on unusually long, so maybe another night of rest and Gerald will really be on the mend as he has kept thinking he was.

No comments: