He had been looking forward to this day off for a very long time. This day was going to be all about him for a change
He had made his list
- Get up early and go fishing
- Breakfast at Hazel’s diner
- Tend to his garden
- Start reading the new David Baldacci book that just came out
- Meet his brother for dinner and then catch the game down at All-Stars
Work had been rough lately, what with the big merger and all. He had finally gotten things to where he could spend a day away from the office. It had been over three months since he had a day all to himself, his wife had gone out of town to visit her parents, the kids were old enough to take care of themselves, this was going to be his day.
His alarm went off at 4:30 AM, he had gotten all of his fishing gear ready the night before so all he had to do was splash some water on his face and go. He was surprised to hear someone moving around downstairs. From the top of the stairs he could see that the kitchen light was on and someone was, not so quietly, moving around in the kitchen. He wondered why either of the kids would be up this early, and went down to investigate
“What are you doing up so early?” he asked as his son was searching through the cereal boxes in the pantry
“Coach was able to get the ice for us this morning so that we can get an extra practice in before the tournament this weekend. Figured I better eat something before I go, sorry if I woke you.”
He loved watching his son play hockey. He thought back to all those early morning practices and late night games that he had gone to over the years. That is one thing about youth hockey, ice time is limited so when you get the chance to play, you took it, no matter what time it was.
“How are you getting to the rink?”
“Well, was planning on walking since I couldn’t convince Julie to get up and drive me.”
“You want me to drive you?” he asked his son.
“Thought you were going fishing this morning. That’s what Mom told us.” David replied
“Ehhh. . . that’s OK, I can go fishing another time. I miss watching you out on the ice” he said as he grabbed his keys
“Thanks Dad! Really didn’t want to have to carry my bag all that way. You sure you don’t mind?”
“Not at all.”
He sat in the cold, aluminum bleachers and watched a 2 hour hockey practice, reminiscing about the past 10 years of being a hockey Dad, talking to some of the other parents while drinking a large cup of hot chocolate. After practice he waited for over 30 minutes in the parking lot for his son to come out, checking his watch every so often. He missed out on fishing, but he can still do the rest of the things on his list. David came out of the side door with several of his teammates, laughing and carrying on like teenage boys do. Hard to believe that the kid was going to be 16 in a couple months. Where does the time go he thought as the young man threw his bag in the back of the SUV?
It was still only 8:30, he could get David home and still make it to Hazel’s by 9:15, they serve breakfast until 10:30 anyway, missing out on fishing was not going to ruin his day. He helped David get all of his gear into the house, had just turned around to head back to the car when his daughter Julie called to him from the kitchen
“Good morning Daddy! You want me to make you some eggs?”
“Julie? Is that you?” he kidded.
“Very funny. Come on, I need to practice for my stupid Home Ec class exam this week. We have to make breakfast. Please….”
How could he say no? Even though all he could think about were Hazel’s delicious biscuits and pepper gravy with a side of homemade sausage links, he sat down at the table. Julie brought him a plate consisting of very runny scrambled eggs, 2 very small pieces of bacon, and a piece of toast that was the color of charcoal.
“Sorry Dad, guess I need some more practice”
Julie sat at the table and stared at her dad as he forced the food down his throat, going through three glasses of orange juice and a glass of water just to keep it down. He smiled at her trying not to show his true feelings about her current cooking abilities.
“That bad, huh?” she asked
“No…..not, umm… too….” he coughed as the burnt toast crumbs stuck to the back of his throat, reached for the orange juice carton and took a huge drink. He set it down and looked at his beautiful daughter and they laughed uncontrollably. “Yeah, that was bad.”
They sat at the table for hours and talked, mostly about her and what she had been up to. Her current boyfriend, how school was going, the colleges that she wants to visit. He could not remember the last time that he was able to just sit and talk to Julie. They were usually both always too busy, but for some reason their schedules coincided perfectly this day. David even joined them for about an hour and the three of them talked and laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company.
He looked outside and saw that it had started raining, “So much for the garden.” He said out loud. So far his list was not coming to fruition.
“Hey, that new action movie is playing down at the theater” David spoke up, “You guys want to go?”
“Sure!” said Julie as she jumped up to go get ready. “What time does it start?”
“12:15 and 2:30” David read from his phone.
“Let’s do 2:30 so I can take a shower first” she proclaimed.
David got up and went to the living room and started playing his video games, he looked around the kitchen and realized that he had just been left with a mess to clean up. He did so, smiling inwardly thinking about his children, wondering how many more times they will actually have time to all be together again. He drove them to the movies, he paid of course. They ordered hot dogs, large popcorn and a huge bag of Twizzlers that they shared throughout the movie. He ate way too much, but felt great. All the way home the three of them talked about the movie and how unrealistic it really was
“No way can someone get shot twenty times and walk away.” David declared. They all laughed
Movie didn’t get out until after 5, and by the time they drove home and got in the house, it was almost 6. He called his brother about dinner, but before he could beg out of going, his brother told him that he would not be able to go because his kids were sick and he needed to stay home and help his wife take care of them. That was fine with him as after all that crap he ate at the movie, he did not feel like going out to dinner or to go to a bar and drink beer.
He sat down in the recliner and sat back, looking over at the end table to where he had put his book that had just come from Amazon yesterday, it was not there. He got up and searched the entire house for it with absolutely no luck. He went back to the recliner and thought about his list that he had made the day before, he was 0 for 5. He shook his head and let out a long breathe, leaning back in the chair he closed his eyes to rest for a moment.
His cell phone rang, and opening his eyes he saw that it was completely dark in the room. He turned on the lamp on the side table and picked up his phone. It was his wife, Dana.
“Hey!” she said sounding all chipper.
“Hi hon” he said groggily.
“You OK? Sounds like I woke you up or something?” Dana said.
“I guess I must have dozed off, what time is it?
“Around 11, I waited until Dad was done watching the game before I called, I figured you wouldn’t hear the phone at All-Stars”
“Didn’t go” he said. “In fact, I didn’t do anything on my list.”
“Really? But I thought you had it all planned out.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“I’m sorry baby” she tried to console him over the phone.
“Sorry? For what? It was the BEST day off ever!”