Well I'm back with another life story about Tony. Actually it's really about Geri and her test for me, although she will deny any truth to the idea that this was orchestrated by her. To set the stage, we are in Florida with the kids for our first family vacation. It's the second month of our marriage. This will be a "no picture" post.
Now, about a week ago, we watched a movie called The Changeling about a woman whose boy was missing and how the police really messed up the whole ordeal. Prior to going missing, the young boy asked his mother what happened to his dad. Her response was that on the day he was born, a box came in the mail addressed to his dad. The box was labeled "responsibility" and his dad decided not to open it. Now this issue could be a post all by itself. Judging by statistics, this happens a lot today.
Today would be the day I received my box.
We arrive at the park on a beautiful day, very warm and sunny. A delightful day to be sure. We were going to have so much fun. Geri suggests we do the water ride first so we have lots of time to dry off. Sounds good to me so in line we go. You know how this works. You stand in line as the ride empties and refills and you work your way up the serpentine walkway. About half way up, something smells bad. I comment to Geri that someone has a bad "lunch" day. Move a little farther. Bad gets worse. I'm about to make another comment when Geri, with as straight a face as you can have, says, why don't you take Tony to the men's room?
Now folks, I'm a combat veteran, I've seen and done things that would make most folks stomach churn. But the thought that this could be coming from my son froze my heart. I was...speechless. Geri said I think you should go now. I grabbed Tony's hand and headed back down the walkway, past all the folks behind us. Heads would turn as we went by and I could hear them saying "that's bad" and "poor guy. I was in a fog about the whole affair.
By the time we reached the closest men's room, Tony was leaving little puddles behind. It was bad. No, it was beyond my comprehension. I had no idea what awaited me. As we entered the room, all the other men just left....it was that bad. I moved Tony into the handicapped stall and was introduced to another truth. I now know what the ladies mean when they say "men are pigs" If you remember the post where Tony did his little dance in front of the john, well there must have been a lot of dancing going on here as well.
Now mind you, I don't have any cleaning supplies with me so I looked outside the stall and, to my relief, there were paper towel rolls and just not the blow dry things. I used wet towels to clean up the facility and then I started to undress Tony. Now I'm not lying when I say that in my worst nightmare I never imagined what I saw. Tony was covered from his belly button to his shoes (upon removal of the shoes it was even between his toes) front and back. Now mind you, I was trying to figure out how that was possible and at the same time trying to breath. Bad. Just plain bad. About this time I was trying to figure out how to leave Tony and get Geri. I was not a happy camper. I was not into this. This was not what I should have to do.
Then it struck me, this was part of what I had signed up for. Made enlisting in the Army for three years seem easy. So I got more wet paper towels and cleaned Tony up. Amazing, no one else was in the room that prior to this had seen brisk traffic. Someone must be standing outside with a "danger, do not enter sign". Once cleaned, I had Tony sit and I proceeded to wash his clothes, socks and shoes in one of the sinks. I dryed them by wringing them out the best I could and redressed Tony. Now I have a half wet child. I've got to walk him all the way back to the water ride and I just know everyone will be starring. But what else could I do. Off we went. The whole time I am thinking about what I'm going to do to make sure this will never happen again, and yes, a cork did come to mind.
When we finally made it back to where Geri was waiting with the other kids, I saw her "head slightly cocked, half smile and glinty eye" look for the first time. Sort of said "I'm guilty". About the same time my mind clicked into gear and I knew I had been set up. Water ride first, plenty of time to dry. Ya it all made sense. All I could do was stand there and take it all in and remind myself that this was what for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, for better or worse meant, and this was definitely worse!
Well, we went on the ride, we all dried including Tony. We had a ball. When we left the park that night, we proceed directly to a super store to purchase a back pack, stuffed with wet ones, a wash cloth, a towel and plenty of room for a second set of clothes. Oh yes, and a plastic tie bag to store unwashed items. Now I was happy.
As I reflect on this experience, as well as the many just like it over the years, I have begun (I'm not fully there) to understand that getting married, and signing up to care for someone are really one in the same. It includes doing all the things that are fun and exciting that we all love to do, as well as the chores that are not pleasant at all. I've come to understand why Geri wanted to know just how strong my commitment was. Not that she would have loved me less if I had failed. She took care of all Tony's needs long before I came along. But it made a great difference in our marriage. It proved to Geri that I was able to take the position God intended for all men, head of the family. Not to rule over, not as commander, not as a dictator, but as a man who would shoulder his responsibility. It's an idea we need to begin to teach our children, again.
Well that's this story. Come back next week for 0+0=0, Tony's take on the economy
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