A Man of Few Words

My husband does not say much. But when he does — Listen!

At 3 p.m. I was in a fog of kids flying in from school, backpacks tossed to ground, wondering what to make for dinner, and pondering how in the world I was going to get two children to swimming at the same time that I needed to get one to a chorus concert. Hello, I need a mom clone!

…when the phone rings. It was my husband. Not unusual as he calls about this time to check on us. He is generally home around 5, but likes to call early to get an update on what is on tap for the evening. He reminded me about an orthodontic appointment I forgot. See earlier reference to fog — pea soup fog in my brain, obviously. He also uttered the words every mom WANTS to hear just before dinner…”Let’s go out to dinner!”

Have I mentioned that I am a terrible cook? Yes. Well, cooking + me = burnt dinner. I did not have to be asked twice. After the orthodontic appointment, we drove to Pizza Hut. Hey, don’t knock it. Our options are limited as we live in a small town — Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, a Chinese takeout, and a barbecue restaurant at a gas station. So, Pizza Hut is at least a step above eating at a gas station. Am I right?

After the usual confusion with ordering. Seriously we go to Pizza Hut about once a month…why is it so difficult to place an order for a family of 5? Oh, wait it is because everyone has an opinion.

My husband joined us as the meal was underway. Amid the munching, the singing (6 yo who likes attention), scowling (13 yo who does not like to be asked about her day), beaming (10 yo about to participate in a chorus concert), my husband casually asks “why are we at Pizza Hut?” I stop in my tracks thinking “Aren’t we here so that I don’t have to cook?”

He told the kids that today would have been his brother’s 37th birthday. We all stopped eating. You could hear a pin drop at the previously noisy, bustling table. My husband’s brother died in 1989 of an undiagnosed heart ailment. He has just turned 17. Totally unexpected. Thoroughly tragic. 17-year-olds should not die. Period.

I knew his brother for a couple of years. My husband and I had started dating in 1986, got engaged in late 1989, and married in July 1990. My husband’s brother was a junior in high school — volleyball player, musician, politically active, and an all-around good person with a strong will and character. Children should not die before their parents.

My brother-in-law lives on in my son…he has my brother-in-law’s name as his middle name.

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