Vacation Day 1
Butter, Cha Cha and I hit the road shortly before 10 this morning, arriving in Riverton 4ish. The river is high this year, higher than I remember in the 20 years I've been coming. Melanoma Man, iMac, and cousin Maddy are on the front porch to greet us when we arrive. They have been waiting for us to go to the river. Melanoma Man drives, with imac and Butter. Maddie rides her bike. I finish unpacking and then walk down the familiar dirt road lined with dwellings that range from cottage to cabin to house, and past the rows of growing grapes on my right and rows of corn on my left. I am wearing my favorite hat, the one Ella sent. Ella is not here yet, but I am delighted to see Mary McNeill, Janet, and Mary Mac already at the river. Mary McNeill and I talk about books. I record her recommendations on my phone.
Melanoma Man drives back to the house with the kids while I chat for a few more minutes before making my way back to the house.
When I get home I find him in the kitchen, pale, short of breath and sweaty getting dinner ready for kids. "I think tacos are too complicated," he says.
" How bout if I make the tacos and you go sit on the side porch with the boys."
"Ok," he agrees without protest.
A few minutes later a beigy, tan pick up pulls into the front yard and out steps Duncan. There is no talk of cancer, but all 3 of us know that cancer is the impetus for the visit. It is a welcome visit nonetheless. Melanoma Man says it is the equivalent of the hugs he receives at church since news of his cancer started seeping out. I tell him it is ok. "People love you. Let them."
Later on another pick up arrives. This time Tommy steps out with a loaf of homemade cinnamon bread made by Jan. Brothers Wayne and Doug stop by as well.
Vacation Day 2
iMac and Butter are getting accustomed to being brothers again after a full week apart. I spent the night fitfully, mostly due to an over active cat. Cha Cha had spent his whole day in the car and he had lost time to make up for, leaping from the floor onto the 5 foot tall dresser and then onto my pillow from there seemed to be a good way to spend his night time. I let him out more than once. When ready to come in he would arrive just outside the bedroom window, leaping up to bang on the screen. I gave up around 5, hit the button on the coffee maker and stepped out onto the screen porch to find Cha Cha's gift for me, a now deceased young rabbit. I found a piece of cardboard to slide him onto and walked to the edge of the woods for an impromptu gravesite. Cha ran behind me all the way, as if to say "That's not trash Mom! Don't throw it out."
Melanoma Man snuck off to the grocery store while the kids and I walked and biked to the river. He came home exhausted, dark purplish circles around his eyes, but pleased to have been of service. I offered to make dinner. "No I would like to," he said. "Spaghetti Bolognese!"
I remembered my Dad coming home from work one night telling Mom about the delicious "pasta" he had for lunch at some downtown DC restaurant. "Pasta? Are you talking about spaghetti? Since when do we call spaghetti pasta?" The memory made me smile and think to myself, "noodles with meat sauce."
After finishing the meat sauce preparation Melanoma Man, Butter,iMac, and cousins Maddy and Jackson ventured to the river for afternoon swim. It is so hot here in the Sandhills of NC with no AC in the summer that the twice daily dips in the cold Lumbee are a necessity. I'm so spoiled that it's hard for me to think of it as a vacation without AC. The White House as the family calls it, is vacant most of the year. Dust and pollen and sometimes petrified squirrels crop up in the house when it is empty. Brother Wayne evicted several families of mice prior to our arrival. In addition the kitchen and bathroom had recently had a good scrub down, so there was less work for me to do this year. I focused on the side porch, sweeping cobwebs, dust, dirt, pollen, wiping down pollen encrusted furniture and airing out cushions. Then I set my mind to the front porch. Cha running behind something small and scared, pounced and almost instantly his second rabbit of the day was dead. It was an affront really. Here I was trying to create order out of chaos, clean out of filth. Here was my cat, stealing this rabbit's life. And I started to cry, not so much for the rabbit, but for the loss of innocence, as I thought about sweet Butter and iMac and all the things I cannot spare them.
Vacation Day 3
Although it rained most of the days the boys managed to get plenty of river time with their cousins, along with a few bike rides around the block, as we say of the dirt road down to the river. Wayne came over in the morning with an ingenious Plan B. His plan is so good that we are now calling it Plan A. Plan A involves Melanoma Man recuperating at home. Wayne will bring the children and the cat home on the weekend. He's left it up to me to break the news of our plan to Melanoma Man, which I think I should do in the morning.
Vacation Day 4
Another night with not much sleep for MM. He called me to the side porch to talk where kid's weren't eavesdropping. "I don't think I should come back to North Carolina the day after radiation. It's just too much"
"Super!" I replied before telling him that Wayne had already hatched a plan and that Wayne and I were in cahoots. He thanked me and Wayne for making him the beneficiary of our plan.
Butter was fine with the plan, freedom from Mom & Dad! iMac cried, but wasn't so distressed that he wanted to go to Moffitt with us tomorrow.
It rained and rained and rained all the way down 95. I don't recall having ever driven through so much rain than I have in the past 3 weeks.