Enduring on the Lake

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chapter 2

It took almost an hour to get rid of Belinda … my newest ex-best friend.  I wonder what is wrong with me that I can just let people go like that.  Maybe there isn’t anything wrong and I’m worrying for nothing.  Right now I don’t have time for self-analysis and philosophizing.  I’m on a mission and I’ve got a list of things that need doing.   

Actually I’ve got a lot of lists.  Mom has had her hands full with Aunt Rhonda and Patrice which has left me to help Dad more than they had originally envisioned.  I think this whole world-coming-to-an-end thing was supposed to happen when I was little and they haven’t quite known how to incorporate me into their plans now that I’m old enough to seriously contribute to the overall success of what they’ve been doing.  It was supposed to be Sam doing it.  My older brother … ten years older.  Only not anymore.  He’ll be the one forever nineteen.  I was eight when he joined the Army.  I was nine when the guy in the uniform came to the door to inform my family my brother had been killed when the helicopter he’d been in had been sabotaged while on training maneuvers.  He’d never even left the country and the enemy had still managed to kill him just as dead as if he had been fighting overseas.  It devastated my parents … and me … and for a while we all kind of wondered what the point of anything was.  My parents looked at all their plans and for a while they had trouble deciding what they were going to do about them when suddenly a big chunk of their plans had suddenly just disappeared. 

To be honest these days I think I’m more serious about all the prepping than Mom.  It isn’t that she isn’t serious; more like she only has so much time and energy and has to prioritize most of it in the day to day living and caring for the family.  She used to be absolutely certifiable about her “preps” but lately life has taken her time and energy away … stolen it away from her if you look at it a certain way.   

Dad had always left the homemaking side of the plans and prepping to Mom while he dealt with “security” and coming up with ways to finance things.  It was only after he’d finally gotten around to doing an up to date inventory here at the cabin that he’d realized great big freaking holes had been eaten away in their plan.  They’ve been rotating food stuff out so it didn’t spoil and go to waste, or taken things as they needed them, but never seem to get around to filling things back in.  Equipment had sat on the shelf and not been used regularly and as a result no longer worked well or at all.  Paper goods and linens were dry rotting … or in the case of two plastic bins had been gotten into by the flying squirrels that sometimes found their way into the storage shed.  That was a fun mess to clean up … and the squirrels weren’t too happy about it either.  Squirrels are nothing but flying rodents and flying squirrels are too small to eat and so cute it hurt to “dispose” of them. 

The day after he’d inventoried and we’d cleaned up what we could we both had the mullygrubs.  Dad and I both have strange sleep habits.  His are a remnant of his time in the military and then doing shift work for so many years at the desalination plant.  I’m not sure what mine are from except maybe I absorbed his by osmosis or something.  Either way we both wound up unable to sleep and by 3:30 in the morning we were both haunting the kitchen.  We were at the cabin to try and recharge before Aunt Rhonda and Patrice came out of the hospital after their latest round of surgeries but the last thing we’d been doing was relaxing.  We were sitting at the kitchen table trying to decide between an early pot of coffee or a late night saucepan of warm milk.  The coffee won and I asked him why he was so twitchy the day before.  He’d snapped at me a couple of times for no reason that I could figure out and I was concerned something was going on. 

“Sister, you don’t need to worry about anything.” 

“Who says I’m worried?”  I asked him.  “We always make a plan and come out smelling … usually like roses but …” 

“You better not finish that,” he said with a half guilty grin.  “Your mom won’t be too happy if she finds out.” 

“What’s to find out?” I answered with a naughty grin. 

He shook his head and we talked of other things – mostly repairs and stuff that are needed at the cabin and at home and where the money and stuff is going to come for it – but eventually it came back around to what he’d tried to avoid and I found out about how “the plan” seemed to be falling apart. 

“What can I do to help?” 

“Sister now I told you Daddy will take care of things.” 

“Yeah I know,” I told him with absolute confidence.  “And one of those ways you can take care of things is by delegating.  So give.  What can I do to do my part?  I’ve been listening to you and Mom talk about this stuff almost my whole life … or at least as long as I can remember … and don’t you think it is about time that you let me in on it?  If I’m going to share in the benefit I sure should be sharing in the responsibility.  I’m not a little kid anymore Daddy.” 

I’m hoping I didn’t imagine that I rose a little in his estimation that morning.  It felt like I did.  He took me seriously in a way he hadn’t before and until they left to return home he showed me all the stuff at the cabin and made sure that I knew how it all worked, where it all was, how to turn it on and off, and a lot of other stuff I could have figured out on my own but was glad that he walked me through so I wouldn’t have to guess.  He even had me start a notebook of directions, instructions, notes, and lots of other useful this and that, plus he gave me copies of the cabin and house inventories.  The other thing he mentioned that I hadn’t shared with Belinda or anyone else because I still wasn’t sure how I felt about it was that he asked me to think about changing my class load to online courses and living at the cabin this fall and spring. 

“Sister, I’m not throwing you out of the house.  Don’t think that.” 

“I don’t Daddy, don’t worry about that.  I never would think it even.  But I know it is a real pain the way Patrice acts anytime I am around.  And other stuff … um, Dan and things like that.” 

“Patrice is a guest in your home.  She shouldn’t …”  He stopped and shook his head sorrowfully.  “As for Dan, the boy has most definitely picked himself a hard row to hoe.  It’s Christian duty and that is about all it is that keeps me from …”  He growled the only way a real Daddy can growl.   

I told him, “Daddy … seriously … I understand.  I sometimes don’t want to but most of the time I do.  And Aunt Rhonda has her own set of problems and one of them she thinks is partly my fault because I’m the one that ratted Kevin out about his drinking to Uncle Herschel in the first place.  I used to tend towards being a tattle tale and we both know it.  But Uncle Herschel believed me, and because he did Aunt Rhonda refused to.  She let their marital problems get in the way of her being a mom.  I know she can’t hear it right now but in my opinion I don’t know if her saying anything would have stopped Kevin. It’s all just a big mess and I’ve made the decision to not take any of it personally and to keep myself to myself from here on out.  Maybe some things just do no good to get involved in no matter the best of intentions behind it.”  I looked down at my hands and finally told him how I’d decided to look at things.  “Dan and Kevin made their choices.  Aunt Rhonda is just in a really bad place right now … the divorce, Kevin, Patrice, and her fibroids being more than just fibroids. Patrice is about the only really innocent person in this whole mess and she still has to live with and accept that she made the choice to get in that car with her brother even though she knew he had been drinking.  I just don’t feel …”  Now it was my place to shake my head.  “Do you remember what the sermon was that Sunday right after Dan … Dan was arrested?” 

“No Sister, can’t say that I do.  We went to church because it was where we needed to be but I’m not ashamed to say we were all in shock and nothing particular sticks in my memory of what was said that day.” 

“Well I do.  It was the story of Job.  And a lot of people kept looking over at us.  Some of them were sympathetic but I saw a lot of people … some that I thought were my friends … wondering how I couldn’t have known; some of them with guilty looks on their faces like they had known and not said anything.  I was getting so angry … not at Dan as I’d already been there and done that and … and shelved it for lack of a better word.  Nor at Jaycee – at least that moment - even though I knew how big a hot mess she is and how she likely wasn’t completely innocent though her folks were trying to make it out that way.  I was angry at all those staring eyes.  Then the preacher got to the part of the story where God tells Job he wasn’t going to get any of his life back – not his old life but a new life – until he forgave those people that had been so mean to him.  God told Job – maybe not in so many words but in a way he understood – that he was forgiving those people not for their sake but for his own and because God forgave him.  And if Job didn’t forgive then Job wouldn’t be forgiven the bad things he’d done in life, even if the bad things were out of good intentions or fear or whatever.  That poked a hole right through me.  I didn’t want to forgive everyone I was angry with but after a while I finally realized it would be the only way to lay the luggage down that I was packing with more and more crap and carrying around with me everywhere I went.” 

“Aw Baby Girl …” 

“Daddy, I still have bad days but not nearly as bad as people seem to expect or maybe even want me to have.  Maybe … maybe that is what Mom is not quite understanding about the way I’m acting.  I don’t want her to think that I don’t have feelings or that I’m bottling them up.  I’m just trying to keep things in perspective and let God take care of all the … the rest of it.” 

“Let me talk to her Sister.  She has been worried about it.  But now that you’ve explained it … well not to put too fine a point on it I think I need to pull out my own copy of the story of Job and sit down and give it another read.” 

We hugged and I feel closer to Daddy than I have in a long time and it’s a good feeling.  I admit I had been feeling lonely and a little shunted to the side as my parents dealt with trying to keep the family together, healthy, and afloat.  But I also realized while my parents might have a little trouble with me growing up they also needed me to grow up; they couldn’t do everything themselves.  At my age they shouldn’t have to.  And I have no business developing any resentment because it is time for my childhood to be over with and to take on adult responsibilities; not just for myself but as a member of my family. 

Which is about the time I remembered that I was wasting time reminiscing and needed to deal with the tasks my parents had set for me.  I needed to call my old bosses and turn in my notice because commuting was out of the question.  I’d miss the job – and the income – but changes were coming and it looked like that was going to be one of them.  And I needed to see if there was a job – any job including community poop scooper – that I could find to keep bringing in enough money that I could save up for my next semester’s tuition and books.

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