The Archibald gang arrived before noon. Erin and Gma Shirley came over right behind them. (I am not a cell phone fan because I can seldom hear mine; and when I do, I can’t get it into my hand and opened before the ringing stops, and I can’t do messages cause most of the time I keep the cell phone in the car so I won’t forget it and I don’t want people thinking they have left me a message not knowing I may not see it for two days. Nevertheless, it is truly miraculous how texting and calling can keep us in touch with loved ones at all times and places, and I appreciate that very much. I am sure Erin received a “we’re here so come on over” when Tara turned into our country road.
Gerald was changing the oil in the “mule,” and he was so excited at their arrival and greeting them that he forgot where he put the plug after he had started draining the old oil. (He had carefully laid it on the back wheel but it took him a while to remember that!) Maddux wanted to ride that “tractor” immediately. (He calls anything that moves at Gpa’s farm a “tractor.”) However, he had to be changed. I had already held Payton while Tara unloaded the “big” boys and diaper bags to change Maddox. Payton went to me and snuggled happily at first. But little wet Maddux was howling about having to wait to ride the “tractor,” so Payton figured something must be wrong and decided he needed to cry too. So as soon as she could, Tara took him back, and then Gma Shirley and Aunt E arrived and had to have their turn inside the house with Payton. As always, we marveled at how calmly and competently Tara got all three boys reorganized and acclimated after the long drive from the top of the state.
I watched Maddux outside in Gerald’s machine shed while Gerald finished the oil-changing. Maddux was happier waiting on his “tractor ride” sitting under the steering wheel, but he still was demanding, “Maddux ride tractor.” I was afraid he would turn on the key to the “mule” because he kept reaching for it. So I kept telling him those were Gpa Gerald’s keys. He would repeat “Gpa’s keys” and look at me and smile that smile that is going to break a lot of hearts in the years ahead. All this time, Aidan was happily filling his wheelbarrow and red wagon and with lime from his lime pile. Erin came out to take pictures of the boys on her phone, so I went back inside where Gma Shirley showed her skill being able to hold Payton and feed him his bottle despite her arm being broken in two places.
Finally Gerald was ready, and he and the “big” boys were off for their ride up and down the road and around the lake and the fields. After that they rode the real tractor before they came in with red cheeks from the chilly weather although Tara and Auntie E had made sure they had coat and caps. Maddox entered the house talking about riding the tractor, and he continue talking about it. Food had little appeal for him since he knew they’d be more rides after lunch. Gerald is an early riser, and his breakfast cereal had been used up long before and it was now way past noon, and the rest of us were also ready for lunch. Aidan dug in with gusto that would make any cook happy.
Gma Shirley could not eat or even drink water since she was facing surgery on her arm at four this afternoon. She stepped up to entertain Maddux after Tara’s persuasion didn’t succeed for him to eat the banana he’d asked for. He did not last long at the table because he wanted to stand beside Gpa and ask for more tractor rides. Shirley took him out on the deck and they talked about birdies and that lasted a little while. Finally she had him back in the living room watching Barney on some modern invention that is a blessing to traveling children.
Gerald finished his lunch, and then Maddux, Aidan, and he were off for a second round of tractor rides and then to ride in the boat. We women lingered visiting round the table and enjoying Payton who at eight months was able to sit comfortably in the high chair that a little time ago Maddux sat in. I’d put Maddux on the kitchen stool that used to be Aidan’s, and Aidan sat quite well in an adult chair. We did move briefly into the living room and were able to admire Payton’s swim-like crawling before it was time for Erin to have Gma Shirley at the hospital at two o’clock.
Gerald had about given up going to Chattanooga with Tara because a call last night to their motel and another favorite chain of ours both said there were no non-smoking rooms available. But seeing the boys and re-anticipating seeing Gerry, Vickie, and Geri Ann stirred his resolve and he made a final call to yet another motel and got a room in that crowded city with so much going on this weekend. At this point, he was scrambling to pack his bag, camera, and sleep machine while Tara changed the little guys once again, refilled bottles and drinking cups, and reloaded the car. We said our goodbyes and there was a quick turn around for the razor Gerald almost forgot. The mail carrier arrived at the same time in the driveway to deliver the gift that one of Erin’s softball students down in Texas had sent her, and suddenly everyone was gone. The house is quiet. I could take a nap. Or read a book. Or write a blog.
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