Back to Reality

Sometimes you get home from a week away and find that the pipes have all burst.

That happened to us one winter. We went to my sister’s in Florida, leaving a 20-year-old house-sitter here with the cats.

Her phone call to us three days later was so sweet:

“Well,” she said “things are fine, really. But it’s 33 degrees in the living room and the cats and I are under the electric blanket in your bed.”

She was such a dear. She was from Austria where for all I know it’s 33 degrees in everyone’s living room.

Or maybe being just three months in the States, she thought this was normal for us.

“Thirty-three degrees!” David yelped when I conveyed the news to him. “The pipes are going to burst !”

This was at 3:00 in the afternoon and even down in Florida we knew that temps back on our northerly shores were headed down to zero.

The pipes burst all right. It was New Year’s Day and we couldn’t get hold of the furnace man in time and when we came home the whole first floor was under water.

It wasn’t that bad this time.

This time we came home from our week on Kiawah Island to rain and 56 degrees. Our floors were just fine however. And our nice neighbor Henry had brought in all our mail and kept an eagle eye on the needs of my zillion house plants, still enjoying summer camp on our screened-in porch.

The problem we faced – or rather the problem I personally faced – is the problem I came home with, and isn’t that always the way? My problem continues to be a computer riddled with viruses and an external disk drive so oddly configured by well-meaning amateurs that even the guy at the Apple store couldn’t discern what was on it. I can’t use the new Mac Book until I can bring 30 years of writing over. So it’s back to a period of speechlessness for a while as the files are being ritually cleansed and then brought over, because really how much can a journalist produce just using her smart phone and I-Pad?

I realize that in the last week I have written more about my family than is my custom and am grateful to all who bothered to read it all. We were all together except for Carrie’s wife Christine, ‘Mama’ to those three young children while Carrie is ‘Mum.’ Chris just couldn’t take the week off work and we sure did miss her. Hopefully she will be with us next time, in five more years, when Eddie will be 13 and David 10 and little Callie 5, and who knows? There may even be other little ones by then.

Carrie took this picture of little David at Olde Charles Towne Landing where she brought both boys for an outing while we stay-behind adults worked together to mind one 13-pound baby.

He asked his mother to take it, which almost never happens. He wears an expression on his face her I find very interesting. I can’t say in what it means but it strikes me as oddly reassuring. He looks so content, and assured of something….

Do the young see more than the rest of us? Does he see the day when his little lisp will vanish and he will tower over his parents rather than vice versa? Can he imagine the day when he will perhaps speak at the funeral of these grandparents he spent a week with in the summer when he was five?

Who knows what lies ahead, whether leak or flood or cascades of virus? We are kids ourselves, in the backward -facing seat of that classic old station wagon. We see only where we have been, and thank God for that.