Wednesday, April 23, 2008
A LICENSE TO WORRY
On Saturday, April 19, 2008, ol' Danny Boy got his learner's permit.
And Mama wept.
Not because he got his permit, mind you -- heck no. In fact, THAT part of the whole shebang was actually exciting...walking into the driver's license bureau, taking a number, filling out the parental consent form, giving my Sonny Boy the 'thumbs up" as he sat down at a nearby table to take the test. He passed, he got his picture taken, they handed him his license and we went out to lunch and celebrated.
No, it was much later that evening that I broke down into hysterics. And with damn good reason, thank you very much.
I mean, what mother worth her weight in worry WOULDN'T have gone just a little bonkers in my situation...
See, I had laid down about 7 p.m. cuz of a sore throat and a stuffy nose. The last thing I remember before drifting off to a Tylenol Cold Nighttime-induced sleep was John saying that he was going to take Daniel out for some driving practice, most likely out to Dunbar, a nice, safe woodsy area not too far from Grandma's.
"OK, huddy" I said, snuggled quite cozily under the covers in the fetal position, a bottle of Cloraseptic clutched in my feverish mitts.
The next thing I knew, it was about 9:30 p.m. and I was wide awake and very thirsty. So I dragged myself downstairs for a glass of orange juice, expecting to find my "huddy" and "Suddy Boy" watching a movie or playing a video game.
But they were nowhere to be found.
The house was dark. The dog's kennel was empty. And the car was gone.
"Heddo?" I snuffled, to no one in particular.
Hmm, they must have taken the dog with them...I'll bet they stopped out at Grandma's after they went driving, I thought to myself. So I called Grandma.
She hadn't seen hide nor hair of 'em.
Hmm, maybe they decided to build a fire out at Dunbar and are having a little father-son bonding time, I thought to myself. How nice. But I decided to call them on Daniel's cell phone, just to see what time they thought they might be home.
I dialed and it went immediately to Daniel's voice mail.
"Hi, huddy, it's mob," I sniffled sweetly into the phone. "Just wudded to call and see what you guys are ub to...gib me a call, lub you."
At 10 p.m., having not heard back from the boys, I started to worry...just a little.
And I did what I always do when I'm worried...I called my Sis in Des Moines.
"Maybe they went to a movie," she calmly and rationally suggested.
"Wid da dog?" I snuffled, incredulously.
"Well, no, probably not," my sister reasoned. "But I'm sure they're fine. They'll probably be home any minute now. Call me when they get home."
"OK," I sniffled. "But dis just idn't like John nod to call. If dey're nod hobe by 11, I'b calling John's friend Duane to go look for dem at Dunbar."
My sister thought that was a good plan.
As soon as I hung up with her, I called Daniel's cell phone again. And again, I immediately got his voice mail. His phone was still turned off...
"Huddy, this is your mudder. I am starting to panig just a bit. Why haben't you guys called be back? It's gettig priddy late!" I stated in the best " you better call me back NOW" voice a mom with a nose full of snot and on the verge of an anxiety attack can muster.
By 11 p.m., I was pacing about the front yard, the front porch, the back yard...staring up and down the four streets that surround our house, looking, praying for our yellow Escape to round the bend or pull in the driveway any second. I was all but putting a listening ear to the ground to catch the slightest vibration of an oncoming car -- anything to quell the fear, the dread, that was tightening the vise of doom that had suddenly clamped itself to my pounding heart.
Do I call Duane? Do I wake him up? Am I over-reacting?
My mind raced...
Suddenly, the phone rang!
"HEDDO?" I yelled into the phone, sure that I'd hear either Daniel's or John's reassuring voice at the other end of the line.
It was my sister. I burst into tears.
"Any sign of the boys?" she asked.
"NO!" I sobbed, wiping my sniffly-sneezy nose across my sleeve. "I DUST DOE DEY'RE'S DOMETHING WROG!"
Even my always even-keeled sis had to admit that perhaps something was amiss. She told me to call my neighbor, Angie, and ask her to come over and stay with me, and to call Duane and send him out to search for the guys.
I tried calling Daniel's cell phone one more time, and one more time, it went right to his voice mail. And that's when I knew, as sure as God made little green apples, that the only plausible reason for Daniel's phone being turned off and going directly to his voice mail and no one calling me back was (que the Doomsday music):
Daniel had been driving, John slumped over with a heart attack (for he had, I noticed earlier, left his nitroglycerin pills on the dresser), Daniel let go of the steering wheel to help his ailing father, (hell, he'd only had his learner's permit for a few hours), they crashed into a tree, the car flipped over, they they were pinned inside, the cell phone just beyond Daniel's bloody, limp hand...
Or, there was always the possibility of THIS scenario: The dog had fallen off the bridge over the Dunbar dam, John had jumped into the water to save the dog, had a stroke, and Daniel dove in to save his dad and hit his head on a rock, they all drowned and the cell phone was back in the car...
At the stroke of midnight, I couldn't take it anymore...I called Duane, gave him the lowdown between nervous snobs and sniffs, and off to Dunbar he drove, promising to call me as soon as he knew anything. Then I called my neighbor Angie, and she came over and tried to calm me down as I flailed and wailed around the living room.
By 12:30 a.m., ol' even-keeled and rational Angie was starting to feel a little anxious about John's and Daniel's whereabouts as well.
And then the phone rang! It was Duane! I braced myself for the worst.
Not a sign of them at Dunbar, he reported -- no fresh tire tracks, no nuthin'.
The only other place I thought they might possibly have driven to was another little woodsy area about 20 minutes from Dunbar called Bennett's Access. It was by the river. John liked to go there to relax, to fish, to ponder.
"If they're not at Bennett's Access, we're gonna have to call for some help," Duane said very somberly. And off he drove to Bennett's Access.
I was a wailing, flailing,freaked out mess by that point.
So Angie called John's brother Steve, who said that if Duane did not find John and Daniel at Bennett's Access, he would join the search.
It was going on 1 a.m., and as we waited for what seemed like an eternity for Duane to arrive at Bennett's Access, Angie and I were just about to pick up the phone and call John's brother, Jerry, the police, and the local sheriff -- everyone but Lassie, Rin Tin Tin and The Lone Ranger -- when who should come bursting through the back door but John and Daniel and the dog!
They were alive! They had all their limbs! There was no blood! I gave the dog a cursory glance and she was all in one piece, as well. I was SOOOOO relieved!
And I greeted them with compassion and love.
"WHERE DA HELL HAB YOU GUYS BED!?" I screamed.
And then I hugged the behoolies out of 'em, and then I quick as a bunny called Duane and informed him with joy that he could call of the search. And then the guys -- dog tired -- shared, somewhat sheepishly -- the death-defying details of Daniel's first evening of driving practice.
In a nutshell...Daniel drove them out to Bennett's access, handed his Dad the car keys, and they strolled about looking at the river, during which time John somehow lost said car keys, and they spent a good half hour searching for them using the dim glow from Daniel's cell phone as a makeshift flashlight (until the cell phone's already-low battery died). And then John, Daniel and the dog hiked 9 1/2 miles (roughly a 5 1/2-hour rural jaunt on a moonless night) to Grandma's house out in the country where they borrowed her car (being very careful not to wake up dear, sleeping Grandma) and high-tailed it home.
Why didn't they stop at someone's house along the way and ask to use the phone? Well,the only house they passed was a shack that looked like the owners were probably busy cooking meth (there's not much population between Grandma's and Bennett's Access), they explained.
Why didn't they call me from Grandmas' house? Well, by then, it was almost 1 o'clock in the morning...they didn't want to wake me up...they'd be home in 10 minutes...
And, truth be known, they were both praying that when they finally rounded the bend and pulled into our driveway in Grandma's car that our house would be dark, that I had, in fact, slept the entire evening, not a worry in the world, blissfully unaware that they had been AWOL for several hours.
Dream on, boys.
Instead, of course, when they rounded the bend, they were all but blinded by the dazzling bright beacon illuminating our corner...Yes, I had every damn light on in the house, including both front and back porch lights...
"Oh, shit. She's awake." was, they tell me, their direct quote. In unison, no less.
What? Me, the Xanax Queen, worry? P'shaw. All in a Mom's son's first day of driving practice...