As I've already written here, for a single parent whose former partner is no longer in the picture, i.e., the single father who is a widower or a widow, whose partner is physically or emotionally incapacitated, or whose partner is simply non-existent by her own volition, he is on-duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Single parenting can be more than overwhelming.
The "more than overwhelming" category is where I found myself recently. Between the stresses of parenting two teenage daughters in the hormonal throes of staking their independence, a needy nine-year old son, navigating a complex romantic relationship, enduring a remodeling of my kitchen - living without a kitchen, managing finances, planning meals, making sure everyone is where the need to be when they need to be there, and balancing all of that with my own personal needs, well, I recently found myself near the edge. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his novel Player Piano, "Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center,” I was frankly a little concerned about going over. I really needed a break.
What I appreciate about a good friend is he (or she) is there when you need them. I'm originally from Missouri and, while many of my closest friends still live in the Midwest, I've made a lot of great friends as I and my late wife, Lori, moved around the Northeast with my job. One of those friends was Lauren Dubuc.
|View of the Back Yard from the Balcony|
While Lauren and I spoke a couple of times a year, her life and my life no longer intersected. I hadn't seen her since Lori's wake in 2005. Still, she wasn't terribly surprised to hear from me when I called her early on a Friday afternoon and said, "Lauren, I'm having a really hard time. Can you help?"
After she heard my story, Lauren didn't hesitate. "We took the slip covers off of the furniture last time we were there to have them cleaned, but if you can handle the sheets covering the sofas and chairs in the family room, you can have the house for as long as you want it." By "the house," Lauren meant her house on Martha's Vineyard.
|Everyone Names Their Driveway on Martha's Vineyard|
We, including The Favorite Son, The Second Beautiful Daughter, and her friend Shannon, were on the road at 4:45 p.m. when I called Lauren again to tell her it was a "go." I asked her if she knew the launch time for the last ferry from Wood's Hole and she said, "9:45 p.m." My GPS indicated that our anticipated arrival to Wood's Hole, Massachusetts was 9:46 p.m. with no stops. I was a little concerned.
As it turned out, road construction traffic in Danbury cost 15 minutes, but I made up time near Hartford and on I-495 south of I-90 where the GPS calculated trip time based on a 50 mile per hour speed limit where, in fact, the speed limit was 65 miles per hour. So, miraculously, we arrived without a reservation at Woods Hole at 9:31 p.m., which gave me just enough time to get our ferry tickets and drive on. As it turned out, we didn't need a reservation. There was plenty of space on the car and truck level. Whew!
|At the Same Time Both a Big Boy & Still a Little Boy, The Favorite Son Insisted on Sleeping on the Sofa|
|Daffodils Bloomed While We Visited|
While the kids and I unpacked the car and put the groceries from my refrigerator and freezer I hurriedly tossed into a cooler and reusable shopping bag before I'd left home, I saw in the floodlights' range a patch of daffodil stems had pushed up from their winter sleep. Then, I made a snack as everyone was settled. In Lauren's family's three-bedroom contemporary, situated about as far from a beach as it could be on Martha's Vineyard, the girls took the upstairs room that included two twin beds. I grabbed the upstairs king. I expected The Favorite Son to sleep in the first floor queen, but he opted for the sofa, instead.
Unpacked and settled, the four of us watched television for a while. I enjoyed a single adult beverage before heading upstairs to a made bed. I enjoyed more than nine uninterrupted hours of sleep.