Why Me?

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Friday morning Mike and I were sitting down to breakfast, when the phone rang. I went into the living room to answer it. It was Mom.

"Hope you guys don't have any plans for dinner today. There's a whole Thanksgiving dinner sitting here that we never got to eat. I've called Milo and Mark, and everyone's planning to come here at two, since neither of them has to work today. After dinner, we can all go over to the hospital to see Trisha and the babies. Oh, Davie, just wait 'til you see them! They're just beautiful!"

"OK, Mom, we'll be there!"

"Good! We'll see you then!" She hung up. I just stood there for a minute. Did she know where Annie was? Had they talked about this? Oh, well, it doesn't matter at this point! I went back to the kitchen. Mike looked up from his coffee, as I walked in.

"Who's calling so early in the morning?"

"Mom. We've been invited—well, ordered!—to come over to their house for dinner today at two. The whole family will be there. After dinner, we're all going to the hospital to see Trisha and the new arrivals."

"Well, we had to figure that was going to happen! Can you imagine Dad's reaction, if he had a whole dinner to eat as leftovers?" He was grinning now.

"I'm a little curious. She never mentioned Annie. She said 'you guys,' and I'm not sure if she was including Annie in that. Or does she know where Annie is? She said she had called Mark."

"Davie, you should know Mom well enough by now to know that she'd be cool with the whole situation. And Annie's a big girl; she has the right to make her own decisions."

"You're right. I guess I'm just thinking the way our Mom and Dad would have thought about it."

"Well, there's nothing we can do about the whole situation right now, anyway, so let's just eat breakfast, and then we can decide what we want to do until it's time to go over to Mom and Dad's house." I just sighed. I knew he was right, but the built-in worry mechanism just wouldn't let go of things.

After breakfast we washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. Then we took our coffee into the living room and sat down on the couch. Mike snuggled up to me.

"Did you have anything you wanted to do this morning?"

"Nothing special; did you?"

"Yep!" He set his cup on the coffee table and reached over to take mine from my hand. He set it next to his and stood up. Reaching down, he scooped me up off the couch and tossed me over his shoulder. He carried me into the bedroom and laid me down on the bed.

"I'll give you three guesses!"

When we woke up, it was almost one o'clock. We got up and went to the bathroom to shower—together, of course! Then we got dressed and closed up the house. We were on our way to the Dorczek house by one-thirty.

When we got there, Annie and Mark were already there. Annie was helping Mom in the kitchen, so we went on in to join Mark and Tom in the living room. Since they already had coffee, Mike and I went back to the kitchen to get some. Mom turned from the stove, as we came into the kitchen.

"Oh, Mike, I called Mrs. Gombasz' daughter and told her what was going on with her mother. The daughter took her to the doctor for a checkup, and he agreed that she should not be living alone. The daughter found a place for her in an assisted living facility, and has put the house on the market."

"Well, I'm glad she's not living there alone. She was always a really nice lady, and I hate to think of anything happening to her."

"I think she'll be better off in the assisted living place. She'll have friends to talk to, and there are people to help her, if she needs them."

Just then the back door opened, and three excited kids came rushing in to hug Grandma. Milo was right behind them.

"Hey, you guys! Did you forget something? Coats and snowy shoes over here in the corner! You're tracking up Grandma's floor!" They hurried back, kicked off their shoes and tossed their coats in a pile in the corner. Mom chuckled.

"Nothing's changed, since you boys were that age! Don't worry about the floor. It wipes right up!" She bent and hugged Jody and Peter, who were tugging at her for attention. Terry was giving Aunt Annie a big hug. Then the kids trooped into the living room to find Grandpa. Milo just looked at his Mom and shrugged helplessly.

"We're trying!"

Mom came over and gave him a big hug. "And you're doing a great job! We're so proud of the way our grandchildren behave in public. They're so different from most of the kids we see." Milo was soaking up the praise like a sponge; he always glowed in praise from his parents.

"But Milo, don't forget that they're children, not small adults. They'll forget from time to time." She gave him a big smile and a pat on the cheek, before she turned back to the stove. "Have you seen Trisha and the girls yet today?"

"No, I wanted to go to the hospital, but I didn't think I should take the kids, and I didn't want to dump them on you, while you're trying to get dinner ready."

"You could have left them here. Tom and the guys could have watched them, while Annie and I get dinner."

"I'm sorry; I didn't think of that."

"That's OK, son. The whole family is going over to the hospital after dinner. We'll take the kids with us. They can't go into Trisha's room, but someone can sit in the waiting room with them, and then they can go to the nursery to see their new little sisters."

"Oh, Mom, they're so beautiful! I really want to get back over there to see them and hold them!"

Mom grinned. "I can't wait! But if we don't get dinner ready, we'll never get to the hospital to see them at all!"

Milo gave her an embarrassed grin and headed for the living room, where the kids were entertaining Grandpa and Uncle Mark. Mike and I got our coffee and joined them. But we stopped and picked up a couple of chairs from the dining room first.

When we went into the living room, Tom had Peter on his lap, and Mark was holding Jody on the couch. Terry was snuggled close to his side. We just waved and said 'hi' to them, since they were occupied. Then we set our chairs to the side, out of the traffic lane, and sat down. Tom and Mark were telling the kids about their cute little sisters. Terry and Jody had big grins, but Peter's face looked as if he had just bitten into a lemon. He was definitely not happy with the idea of two more sisters, but he didn't say anything. Jody looked up at Uncle Mark.

"When they come home, can we play with our new baby sisters?"

"Not for a while, Jody. Little babies aren't really big enough or strong enough to play. But I'll bet Mommy and Daddy will let you hold them and rock them, and maybe even give them their bottles, when they're hungry."

That seemed to satisfy both the girls, Jody snuggled down in Uncle Mark's lap, and Terry slipped her hand in, so that she could hug his arm. Peter patted Grandpa's arm to get his attention, and began to tell him the latest adventures of Murphy. Mike and I both had to chuckle, when he announced, "And Murphy's a boy!" He gave his sisters a rather smug look.

It wasn't long before Annie came to call us to dinner. We all trooped into the dining room and sat down. It appeared that Mark and Annie were now established at the foot of the table, where they had sat last week. Mom and Annie fixed plates for the kids, and then they went around the table, serving the adults, before they sat down to eat.

The turkey and the ham had already been cut up and stacked on platters, and there was an array of vegetable dishes—mashed potatoes, dripping with butter, mashed squash, green beans and whole kernel corn, all with butter melting over them. At each place there was a tossed salad. Three or four bottles of different salad dressings stood near Tom's place. He picked one up, and added dressing to his salad, before passing the bottles on. When everyone was ready, there was a pause, and Tom stood up to ask a blessing on the meal. I still found it amazing, listening to his soft Czech words flowing over us. Then he sat down and picked up his fork. Dinner had officially begun. I noticed, though, that all the adults looked toward Grandfather's place at the head of the table, before they began to eat.

When everyone was finished, Mom stood up. "We'll have dessert, when we come back from the hospital." She looked toward Mike and me. "Would you boys mind giving us a hand getting everything back to the kitchen, so Annie and I can put the leftovers away and do the dishes?"

Mike grinned. "No problem, Mom! Just tell us where you want things, as we bring them out."

Tom, Mark and Milo took the kids into the living room to entertain them, while we started carrying dishes to the kitchen. Mom and Annie put away the food, as we brought it to them. When we had everything in the kitchen, we were banished to the living room, so we went in and joined the other men, enjoying the card game going on in the middle of the floor. The kids were happy, and we could just relax after yet another of Mom's huge dinners.

In about half an hour, Mom came to the door. "I guess we're ready to go now." The kids grumbled just a little, as they picked up their cards and put them away. When we got out to the kitchen, I could hardly believe that it looked so clean and peaceful, as if it had never been used. There was no evidence of the frenzied activities before and after dinner, or the stacks of dirty dishes on the counter by the sink. I looked around and just shook my head.

Annie helped Milo get the kids bundled up to go out, and the rest of us put on our shoes and got our coats. When we got to the cars, all the kids wanted to ride with Aunt Annie and Uncle Mark. Milo was about to refuse, when Mark spoke up.

"It'll only take a couple of minutes to move the car seats, and we'd love to have them with us!"

Annie gave him a warm smile and took Terry's hand. "Yes, I want my little nieces and nephew with me, if you'll let them go." Mark chuckled. "And we'll bring them home, safe and sound!"

Milo just sighed and went to his car to get out the safety seats from the back seat. Mike and I were going to ride over to the hospital with Mom and Tom.

While Mom, Tom, Annie and Milo went in to visit with Trisha, Mark took Mike and me, along with the three kids, down the hall to the nursery.

Terry was excited. "Wow, there's a lot of babies in there! Which ones are my sisters?"

Mark went to the door and tapped. One of the nursery nurses came to the door. "Which little ones did you want to see?"

"The Dorczek twins, please."

She gave him a big smile. "I know Mr. Dorczek, so you must be the uncles. And are these the big brother and sisters?"

"Right on all counts! We'll wait over by the window."

She closed the door. Then she and another nurse wheeled two bassinets to the front of the room, close to the window. She gave us a big smile and walked away. The girls were asleep, so we just stood there, studying the little faces. I don't know if it's being gay, or if it's just lack of experience with babies in my life, but the last word that would have come to my mind to describe them would have been 'beautiful'! Babies are supposed to be pink and cute, aren't they? These two were almost the color of old catsup, and the big round cheeks that pushed the corners of their eyes upward gave them a distinctly Oriental look. I leaned over and whispered to Mike, "Are you sure these are the right babies? They look like Fu Manchu!" Mike burst out laughing and had to walk away, down the hall, until he regained control.

Mark gave me a grin. I know he couldn't have heard what I said, but I think he had a pretty good idea. "Newborn babies are beautiful to parents and grandparents. To the rest of the world, well, let's just say they don't fit our usual picture of babies. It takes a couple of months for them to get to that stage. I remember…" He stopped and turned away abruptly. I could see the tension in his shoulders, as he fought to regain his composure. He reached into his hip pocket and pulled out a hanky to wipe his eyes. Then he turned back to face me, but his smile wasn't as sunny as it had been before.

Mike returned, and we turned our attention to the kids, who had been standing there, just looking at the babies. Jody spoke up.

"Why are they all wearing those funny hats?"

Mark answered her. "New babies have to be kept warm, and those little caps keep their heads warm."

"Oh. But why are some of them pink and some of them blue?"

"The girls have the pink caps, like your little sisters. The boys have blue caps."

Peter had been studying all the babies. He looked up to Uncle Mike now. "There are six boys and four girls. Couldn't we just change one of our girls for one of the boys? Nobody'd know; they all look alike. We could change the hats, and no one would know the difference!"

Mike chuckled. "I think the nurses might notice, when they had to change diapers. And I'm sure Mommy would know the difference." Peter just sighed.

"So, I'm stuck with four sisters!" Mike picked him up and hugged him.

"It's really not so bad, Peter. You'll be really popular in high school, when all the guys want you to say good things about them to your sisters."

"Why would they want me to do that?"

"Well, if you want to date a pretty girl, it helps to have her brother on your side."

"Oh." Peter didn't have a clue what Uncle Mike was talking about, but he apparently decided to drop it. "Can we go back to that room where we were before? They've got some good books there that I wanted to look at."

We had just arrived back in the waiting room, when Annie and Milo walked in. "Hey, guys, why don't you go in now and see Trisha for a while. She's getting tired, but she wanted to see you before we leave. We'll watch the kids."

When we got to Trisha's room, Mom was sitting beside her bed, and Tom was standing behind her. Trisha looked tired, but radiant with motherhood. She gave us a big smile. "So what do you think of your new nieces?" I glanced at Mike. What do I say now? I decided on a kind lie.

"They're beautiful, Trish, just like their Mom!"

Mike just nodded in agreement. I could see the look in his eye. He was fighting hard to keep a straight face.

"We've decided to name them Sara and Julie. I really hate those sound-alike names for twins, and Milo said he'd like them to develop their own personalities, without being part of someone else. That made a lot of sense to me."

"How are you going to tell which is which?"

"We'll leave the hospital bracelets on for a few days, until we get to know them better, so it's easier to tell them apart."

"Won't those bracelets get a little tight by the time they're fifteen?"

She laughed. "You obviously have never been around babies very much. They develop very definite personalities in a very short time! I knew that Terry was going to be the quiet, clinging one, Jody the curious one, and Peter the stubborn one by the time they were two weeks old. Sara and Julie may be twins, but they will each have a very distinct personality!"

I guess you have to be a mother to understand that! I just gave Mom a helpless look, and she laughed. "I think we ought to be going now, Trish. We don't want to wear you out the first day. You're going to have to build up your strength to deal with a houseful of kids, when you get home. We'll be back tomorrow to see you—and my beautiful granddaughters!" She stood up and bent over to give Trisha a kiss on the cheek. "We're really proud of you, daughter!" Trisha's smile was glowing as we left, waving goodbye.

When we got home, Annie put on a pot of coffee and got out cups for everyone. She set the table in the dining room with dessert plates and forks.

Mom was busy at the counter, cutting the pies into wedges. She gave me a big grin. "I heard from a little bird that someone here likes pumpkin pie!" She reached into the fridge and pulled out a pie heaped with mounds of home made whipped cream. I could feel myself beginning to drool, and I wiped my chin quickly, hoping nobody had noticed.

They brought the pies into the dining room and set them on the table. When we were all seated, Tom looked at the different pies. "Damn! Now I've got to decide! I hate having to make choices, when all the choices are something I like!" He finally reached for the mince pie and lifted a piece onto his plate. Then he passed it along.

Mom and Annie were busy, dividing slices of each pie into two pieces for the kids. Annie turned to Terry. "What kind would you like, Honey?" Terry gave an embarrassed smile. "I think I'd like to try the mince. I don't think I ever had that before."

Mom chuckled. "Not since last Thanksgiving! But you were just a little girl then, so you might have forgotten." Terry blushed.

"I guess so."

Mom suggested a scoop of ice cream to go with the pie, but no one seemed interested. I waited, as the pies moved around the table. When the pumpkin reached me, I quickly lifted a piece onto my plate. I could smell the rich spicy aroma, and my salivary glands went into action again. I ducked my head, so that no one would see me starting to drool, even before I tasted the pie. Then I took a bite. I was in some sort of nirvana, where there was nothing but the smooth texture of the pie, the rich blend of spices and the whipped cream melting on my tongue. Annie looked across the table and laughed. "Well, Mom, your pies made a hit on at least one person!"

Mike started to laugh. "Now I know how to get the same look on his face that Murphy gets when I scratch his ears!" I could feel my face getting warm, but I tried to ignore it, as I really got down to some serious eating on that pie! I wasn't the only one. Conversation came to a halt, as everyone got into their pie. Too soon, it seemed, it was gone. Tom looked up with a sad grin on his face.

"Is that all there is? Don't we get seconds?" Mom just gave him a dirty look.

"How long have you lived in this house?"

"Long enough to know that it's not a good idea to get the boss upset!"

"If you want more pie, then have more pie! That's why I baked them, so that people will eat them!" Tom grinned.

"OK, I'll have apple this time." Mark, who was closest to the apple pie, sent it up to Tom. As if that were a signal, everyone had a second piece of pie, even the kids, although theirs were half slices.

When we finished our dessert, Milo stood up. "OK, kids, I think we'd better get home, so you guys can get a nap, if you want to watch cartoons this evening. Be sure to thank Grandma for the wonderful dessert she made for you, and tell everyone goodbye."

We were mobbed by little kids, hugging and kissing us. They all made sure that they thanked Grandma for the good pie. Mom stood up and gave Milo a big hug. "You'd better get some rest tonight, too! I'll have your box ready for you tomorrow morning, so you can pick it up."

"Thanks, Mom, and thanks for everything!" He hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Then he took the kids out to the kitchen to get them ready for their walk next door. Annie went out to help him. When she came back, she was carrying the coffee pot and a trivet. She set it on the table and went back to get cups for everyone. There was just enough coffee in the pot to give everyone a cup of coffee. She took the pot back to the kitchen, and I could hear her drawing water and starting a new pot. There wasn't much conversation over coffee. Everyone seemed to be thinking private thoughts. When we finished our first cups, Mom went out to the kitchen and brought in the pot. She poured coffee, but I noticed that she didn't pour any for Annie or for herself. She set the pot on the trivet and picked up two of the pies to take them back to the kitchen. Annie gave me a grin, as she picked up the pumpkin pie, passing it under my nose, as she went out to the kitchen with it.

She came back to the dining room with a tray and picked up the dessert plates and silver. I could hear Mom bustling around in the kitchen, and I had the feeling that we were going to have big care packages tonight.

When we finished our coffee, we went into the living room. Since it was 6:00, Tom turned on the evening news. We watched that, and the sportscast that followed it. Mark and Mike really enjoyed that as much as Tom did, and I just kept quiet. Each of them was cheering for his team, if it had won, or complaining that they had been cheated, if the team lost. When the sports news was over, Tom turned off the TV, and we went out to the kitchen.

As usual, everything was spotless and in order. There were two big boxes on the table, filled with plastic containers. On top of one sat the untouched mince pie, and on the other was the pumpkin pie which had been hiding in the fridge. Mom grinned at my greedy expression, before she turned to Mark. "Do you really like mincemeat pie?"

"Oh, yeah, Mom, I do, and yours is about the best one I ever had!"

"I make my own mincemeat."

"Wow! I'm impressed! And the pie was delicious!"

"Well, I wanted to be sure, because if you didn't like it, I could give you the apple pie and send this one home with Milo tomorrow."

"Oh, no, you don't! And, anyway, I think the kids would be happier with the apple pie than with the mincemeat."

Mom stretched up on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. "You're a real Daddy, you are!" She smiled at Annie and winked. Annie grinned, but her face was getting red. I guess Mom knows what's going on with those two!

Mike picked up our care package to take it to the car. I got nervous, seeing the way he was carrying it. "Mike, please be careful! Don't mush the whipped cream on the pie!"

He turned around and set the box back on the table. He handed the pie to me. "You carry it! Then, if anything happens to it, it won't be my fault." He turned to Mark and Annie. "If anything happens to that pie, he'll be whining for two weeks!" Annie laughed.

"He's always been like that!" I drew myself up to my most pompous position. (Well, I thought of it as wounded dignity!)

"Well, it's my pie! Mom gave it to me!" I stalked out of the house and started down the back steps. I tripped on one of the kids' toys they had left lying there, and I barely managed to catch my balance, so I wouldn't fall headfirst down the stairs. The pie wasn't so lucky. I tossed it about ten feet, and it landed, face down, on the sidewalk.

I could hear the roars of laughter behind me, and there was no way I could salvage my dignity from this one! Mike was on the porch; he had to set down the box he was carrying, so that he could wipe his eyes, and he just kept laughing. Mark and Annie were standing in the doorway, bent over with laughter, and Mom was behind them. Mom was laughing at me! The ultimate indignity! I just stood there, looking at the upside down pie tin, surrounded by whipped cream and gobs of pumpkin filling. I started down the stairs to see what I could do to clean up the mess. Mom stopped me.

"Just leave it; Tom will get it later. He's going to be really sorry he missed the show!" She was off in another fit of laughter, setting Annie and Mark off again. Mike had recovered a little, and he picked up the box again.

"Are we ready to go, now?" I had a lot of things I wanted to say to him, to all of them, but I just growled, "I guess so."

We had almost reached the car, when Milo and the kids came around the corner. Jody stopped suddenly.

"Grandma, why is there pumpkin pie all over the sidewalk?" The only answer she got was renewed waves of laughter. I gave Mike a shove. "Can we go home now?" He was still chuckling, when we got home and took the box into the house.

Editor's Notes:

Giggle chuckle giggle snort. Oh I can't help it. But then I have to think about that wasted pie and I feel sorry for Davie. He had his heart set on more pumpkin pie, and now it's all gone.

Somehow I have the feeling that Mom will make him another one for Sunday. We will just have to wait and see.

I know that Mike is going to have to be extra specially nice to Davie to make up for laughing at him.

I am also very glad that Davie didn't fall down the steps and hurt himself. After all you can always bake another pie, but people are much harder to fix, if they splatter on the ground.

Of course it is a good thing it wasn't a Marx Brothers movie or a Three Stooges movie, or someone would have found themselves acquiring a pie or two in the face. And then there would have been an all out food fight.

Why do we always find it so funny when someone slips and falls down. It seems to me that something like that would make us sad, not laugh hysterically.

Let's hope all is forgiven by the time the next chapter comes along.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher