I wrote of my mother, Kathleen’s laundry list against her cousin’s Robert Gordon and Wayne Perkins just the other day, mentioning her intention to tell Robert Gordon what a hellion should she ever met him again, even if he were Pope. It’s fortunate she never had that little conversation with his partner-in-crime, Wayne, since she found herself in need of his friendship one day early in her marriage.
Daddy was a busy man who had priorities. These included good times with his brothers and brothers-in-law and manly business. That being said, we spent endless weekends with his family, careening out our drive on Fridays after and not often not getting back till late on Sunday night, despite the fact that there were young children to be bathed, homework to be done, and the week ahead to be prepared for. That was woman’s business. Fortunately, he was not a woman.
At any rate, at the close of school every year, Mother would break the news that yet again, she was going to visit her parents this summer. They’d fight a while till they’d reach an impasse.
Outraged, he’d insist she wasn’t going. She’d go on making her plans. Finally he threw out a challenge, “Well, If you go, you’re not coming back.”
She went on with her packing. “We have to be at the train by two.”
Defeated, he asked. “When will you be back?”
“Pick me up two weeks from today. I’ll travel through the night so I won’t have to wrestle with the baby so much.”
Two weeks later, when we got off the train, Daddy wasn’t there. Mother was disgusted, but not too surprised. He was always late. At nine, she called Aunt Julie who told her Daddy and Uncle Parnell had just left there to see a man about a dog, but had mentioned he was supposed to pick her up. He was just going to be a couple of hours late. Of course, Mother was furious, but had no choice but to wait. She called Aunt Julie back later, who hadn’t seen the men. By eleven she had thirty cents left, we were starving, and the baby was guzzling the last bottle. Mother wracked her brain till she remembered her Cousin Wayne lived nearby. She looked his number up and called. Miraculously, he and his wife were home. Upon hearing her plight, he picked us up at the train, took us home for lunch, fixed the baby up with a bottle and a nap, and let Mother use the phone to tell Aunt Julie she’d found a ride, after all. It was mid-afternoon by now. Daddy still hadn’t gotten back from seeing about that dog. Cousin Wayne kindly took us home. Daddy was delighted to see us when he finally came in with his new hunting dog and not surprised at all that Mother had somehow gotten a ride home from the train station. What a guy! I don’t know why she never killed him.