It’s not the first time we’ve driven down to Sedalia on a Friday and came back on a Sunday, but this was the first time my co-captain was 37 weeks pregnant with my future backseat riding baby. I don’t know how she managed to spend 16 of those 57 hours in the car and remain a champ about it the whole time, but she sure as heck did.
We left Minneapolis right after meeting a new midwife since we had to make a very abrupt change in health providers due to an insurance change (UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE, PEOPLE) that we weren’t really expecting at the tail-end of a pregnancy. We had the new car packed, which meant the dogs were getting their first taste of being demoted to the “way back”. Spoiler alert: they didn’t complain about being able to stretch out that much for the entire ride there and back.
Pregnant and tired wife = dinner stop in Ankeny, Iowa, just so she could have dinner at Maid Rite. She gets very nostalgic when it comes to loose-meat sandwiches and who am I to get in the way of nostalgia? Or, again, someone that’s 37 weeks pregnant.
We got into Sedalia around 8:30 or so Friday night and that included a stop at the Wal-Mart in Warrensburg, because I sure did forget to pack things like hair product and toothbrushes. We stopped at my folks’ house and watched my mom watch a few innings of the Royals/Orioles game. It’s hilarious and adorable and I have no idea when she became a giant sports fan, but the thing is – she knows things like roster salaries, which kind of blows my mind. My brother and his girlfriend came over once they found out we were there (BECAUSE NOBODY TELLS HIM ANYTHING), but they had to leave when the score was tied in the 8th inning because it was throwing off their good luck rituals. I’m still not sure my brother’s changed his underpants since the post-season started. Once we noticed we’d kept my dad up way past his bedtime, we grabbed food at Sonic and headed to the hotel to watch the rest of the game.
We woke up Saturday morning to stop over at my folks’ house again before going over to my grandparents’ house. The reason we visited Sedalia was because my grandpa turns 90 on Monday. I wasn’t going to miss his birthday for the world and Amelia wasn’t going to let me either. Originally, we were going to be able to make it to the party that was being thrown for him and it was organized by the team from http://www.jumpersjungle.com/gardena/, but that got changed and we just couldn’t risk another week later. Baby and all.
You know what I’d do every Saturday afternoon if I could? Spend several hours with my grandparents. I mean, you know what I’ll never forget about this weekend? Showing my grandpa the new car. Hearing my grandma talk about the muffins she made earlier in the day, all the apples she’s been cooking with, cleaning up the soot the furnace repairman got everywhere. Getting a brand new baby quilt that Grandma hand made and tied with her own hands that are so bent and crooked from arthritis she can’t even lay her hand flat. Listening to her tell a story about how she found one of the gifts she gave us for the baby. Having her write down the baby’s name, so she’ll be able to learn it by the time she’s born. Watching my grandma share books and books of pictures with Ash just to try to find one particular picture to show him. Showing my grandpa pictures on my iPad and listening to him chuckle anytime he saw any picture of my dogs. Looking at old photos with my grandpa and him telling me how much a catfish weighed in a picture from the early 90s.
I won’t forget how at 6pm, they both said they were hungry and wanted to take us out to dinner. I had to make about 11 calls between my dad and my brother to get it all worked out and I refused to go anywhere that Grandpa wasn’t choosing. He mentioned Hardee’s Steakhouse (yes, that Hardee’s fast food restaurant, but then he went off on a tangent about how “you can’t hardly get a good sandwich there anymore”.) Before he chose, he changed out of his t-shirt and into a fancy pearl-buttoned cowboy shirt. When Amelia complimented him on it, he honest to God said, “this old thing?”. That old thing was sparkly and I’m not even exaggerating.
We ended up going to cafe on the outskirts of town that’s been there for God only knows how long. “It’s not fancy or anything” was my grandma’s disclaimer. When your 88 year old grandma that might weigh 80 pounds joins the Clean Plate Club after plowing through a whole patty melt and a plate of fries, that’s fancy enough for me. (Totally introduced her to the wonders of a patty melt, by the way.)
We were lucky (?) enough to be there during karaoke, which in Sedalia means 10 years olds can get up and practice their ventriloquist acts to Justin Bieber songs. Not kidding. My grandpa insisted to the server that he get the bill for everyone. The server told us she had to respect her elders when he told her he outranked us all. I let her know it was his birthday on Monday and when she came back, she asked his name and if he’d care if they sang to him. My answers were Charles and absolutely not.
I asked him if he was going to get up and sing. He said he only knew two songs. I asked which he was going to sing first and he said the first one. Of course, I had to know what the first one was. His answer? Not the second one.
If there’s something you don’t see or hear very often, it’s that guy smiling and laughing. He’s not unhappy, by any means at all. He’s just an old farm guy that grew up in the 20s and 30s, where I’d imagine emotions weren’t really something boys needed to show. He laughed and smiled so big when the announced between tone deaf karaoke singers that it was his birthday and everyone in the whole restaurant sang to him, it made me tear up. Or I got something in my eye. I won’t forget that old codger pretending he didn’t think it was a big deal that there were 8 of us there celebrating his birthday in a way that he loved – music (even though it was bad), eating a burger and spending low-key time with some of his family.
Before we left, I grabbed a quick picture of these two people, who just happen to be two of the most wonderful, caring, loving, amazing and genuine people you could ever meet.
Grandpa poses all the time without his dentures in or he acts like a cranky old man. Pictures with him truly smiling are few and far between. This picture, even though it was taken on my iPhone in a parking lot underneath the lighting of an old cafe, is the best one I’ve taken in a long time. It’s getting printed and framed at our house.
I told Amelia on the way home today that I’ll never forget this weekend and what we were able to do with Grandpa for his 90th birthday.