CURAD Ouchless

My fiancé, Julie, finally sold her house.  We moved her out this weekend into a temporary place in Charlotte.  Now, it’s my turn.  It’s like dominos – one step forward puts the next in motion.  When we finish, the plan is marriage and ONE house.  After five years of dating, it’s probably time.

I’ve had workmen at my house shoring up odd jobs, and I’ve been cleaning out like a crazy person.  I’ve watched Julie do the same.

It’s interesting what you find – it’s fun, it’s dirty, and sometimes it pierces a heartstring.

Last night I was shoring up the Rubbermaid band aid container.  Does everyone have a band aid box with various shapes and sizes of stick ‘ems and gauze?  In my quest to clean out, I came across an old tin of CURAD Ouchless Bandages.  I started to toss it without looking in.  But that’s not my style.  No, I look in everything to see if there is any feasible reason I might want to save something.  I hate to throw things out – what if I could reuse it?  An old towel could become a new rag.  What if someone else could use it?  My junk is another’s treasure.  What if it conjures up a memory that I might otherwise lose?  A hand drawn card from Michelle dubbing me the “best father” of all time!  That’s like an Oscar for me.

I opened the can and there were no boo-boo strips.  Instead two bills, one dollar and a five.  On the dollar, my grandmother had written:  This bill was in my father’s wallet on the day that he died, July 30, 1965.  On the five the same message but for my great-grandmother, This bill was in mama’s wallet on the day that she died, June 21, 1970.  Also rolled up with the money was a note in my great-grandmother’s writing saying keep this bill always to remember your dad.  I was not yet 1 when my great-grandfather died and only five when his wife passed.  But how cool to have a physical remembrance of their love and our family history.

It is hard to move out of a house that you’ve lived in for nearly thirty years.  The laughs that we’ve had.  The tears that we’ve shed.  The victories and losses.  The weekly totes in of the groceries.  The fall nights on the screen porch.  All are special.  Comfortable.  Warm.

And yet, the danger of gripping so hard to the past is the possibility of foiling the future.  We have to pack our CURAD tins in a cardboard box, and take them with us as we move forward.  Our past can stagnate or add delight to what comes ahead.   I choose delight all day long!

UNC or USC?

USC

For 16 years I’ve dreaded the day my kids go to college.  How in the heck did the junior year get here so quickly?

Don’t get me wrong. I want them to grow up, and I want them to experience the world.  I just want to be there when they do so.

I do think that God prepares you.  DJ isn’t really home that much anymore.  It’s more rare for her to actually make the family dinner than to not.  And, frankly, there are times she’s just not as much fun to be around as she used to be.  She barely snuggles anymore, she gets most angry when tickled and don’t even try blowing her stomach.

Regardless, I want her to find a school that she absolutely loves.  And if it is Meredith College, three blocks from our house, SUPER!  I could drop her off on the way to work – wouldn’t that be fun?

And, if she decides to go somewhere that is a six-hour drive, so be it (I ain’t taking her anywhere further than that).

Two weekends ago, DJ and I went on a weekend long college tour, just the two of us.  It was really nice to have some time with her alone.

We hit Chic Fil A three times – once we saw the sign and had a hunkering for a shake.  It was Saturday night at 9, and that meant we had two hours or we’d be done for the weekend.  I mean, I’m all about the Sabbath, but seriously, couldn’t they just open at like 1 when everyone is through with church?

We pulled off the interstate and realized it was a 3.8 mile drive to the cookies and cream.  There ought to be a law against that – more than 1/2 a mile and it should not be on official FOOD signage.

We toured four schools:  Clemson, Furman, South Carolina and UNC.

I asked our student guide what I thought were fairly good questions:

“Are all of the dorms same-sex facilities?  She’d be more comfortable with all girls.”

“Could you expound on the Honors curriculum?”

“Now, where is the Presbyterian Student Center?”  It bothered me that one of the guides did not know.

“Is there a curfew?”

I pointed out the amenities of each school to my daughter:

“DJ, look, they have brocoli in the lunch room!”

“There is a YMCA right near the campus.”

“I don’t think you’ll even need a car here.”

“The teachers seem so nice.”

It was difficult to get a real read on what she liked.  I think she wants to surprise me.

She didn’t seem very impressed with the brocoli and honors courses.  But I did see her pupils expand when she drove by USC’s frat court.

I don’t think Meredith has a frat court – that could be a problem.

Sunday Post 124: On-the-job Training

This is it.  We got up early so we could beat the line at the Jacksonville, NC, DMV.  DJ turned 16 while we were no vacation, and we couldn’t wait two more days to get back to Raleigh.  So, this morning we drove 45 minutes to the nearest town to see if she could take the test that will push her toward total independence.

The kid in line before us slinked out of the glass room with his head down low.

“I failed,” he told his dad.  “The guy said I drove 33 in a 55 mile per hour zone.  I actually went too slow.”

Dear God above, please let DJ go too slow too.  Please, please.

I assume He can perform miracles, but DJ driving slowly may even be beyond His capabilities.

She returned from the road test with a Cheshire Cat grin on her face.  I knew my fate.

When we returned to the beach house, she announced she would be driving her sisters to lunch in Surf City, 20 minutes away.

“I’m hungry too,” I pleaded.

“We’ll bring you some back.”

My parting words were:  “I want all of my children back here, in one piece!”

“I’m with her,” Stephanie assured me.  “She won’t do anything crazy with me in the car.”

I didn’t feel any better.

Now they are gone, and I am here – alone.  I put my phone by my chair and turned the sound up high, just in case they need me.

Damn, this is sort of scary.  I think she’s a pretty cautious driver, but she’s young and inexperienced.  Oh, and the woman in line behind us at the DMV who was excited she was finally getting the breathalizer off her ignition is presumable back on the road this afternoon.

I can’t help but ponder the hours we’ve spent in my car together.  There were the Barney years in the minivan.  I could sing every word to every one of that purple dinosaur’s tunes.  There was the first time she weighed enough to sit in the front seat.  And three years ago when I was thrown into the role of primary carpooler for the Tanner family.

Although a relief to know I’ll no longer speed through town working to pick up all three girls at the exact same hour, I surely will miss our conversations.  We’ve wept, shared our dreams and yelled at the top of our voices in that car.  But mainly, we’ve laughed – laughed and laughed and laughed.

Somehow those gray leather seats bring out the best in us.  The ability to divulge our inner most thoughts made so much easier when sitting side-by-side.  I think it’s the lack of eye contact.

This whole growing up stuff is going to take some getting used to.  I fear that DJ isn’t the only one in this house who is figuring out how to become an adult.  There’s a 47-year-old who’s also getting some on-the-job grown up training right now.

The Learner’s Permit

Check out the “hard top”

Posted by Danny

My nerves are shot. DJ’s getting her Learner’s Permit and I’m about to have a stroke.

I was wondering why this was bothering me so – and then I began to assess what was behind my uneasiness. Perhaps it is my own history with the automobile that brought back this unpleasantness.

My brother once owned a 1973 Camaro Z 28. He’s spent his life savings on this car. It was black with a navy stripe down the side. We lived in the very back of our neighborhood on Rolling Hills Road but we could hear Chad coming when he turned off of Village Drive and passed through the red brick Briarwood entranceway two miles from our house. Apparently his life savings wasn’t enough to fund a muffler.

His long hair blew in the wind as he cruised by Terry Sanford Senior High School, a cigarette hanging from his lips and KISS blaring from the radio.

I, on the other hand, drove my father’s hand me down straight shift Dodge Colt. It was white with a light blue hard top. Why was it called a hard top? All cars that weren’t convertibles seemed like hard tops to me.

We lived on the top of a hill, our driveway a steep, steep incline.

One day I was hurriedly pulling into our drive. Little did I know that my bother was barreling down the same concrete slab, in reverse.

The damage to my car was minimal. My dad and I fixed it with a hammer and jar of model paint. But the Camaro was never the same. The trunk had to be tied shut with a rope. And since my brother had invested all of his worldly possessions into purchasing the car, he had no collision insurance.

Boy was he mad. My mother thought it was funny. She has an uncanny ability to find humor at the most inopportune times.

I once lent my car to a friend. She forgot to wear her glasses. She totaled it at an intersection a couple of miles from where we worked.

On another day, Susie McKinney, a classmate of mine, parked right next to me at school. When we arrived at our cars to head home for the day, I commented on her inability to drive. “Damn Susie! Half of your car is in my space. Watch what you’re doing next time.”

I opened my car door to toss my books in the car.  Although my butt was on the driver’s seat, my legs were still outside of the vehicle.

I whipped my head around as I began to feel pressure on my legs. Susie’s bumper was meandering down the side of my car door as she turned to back out of her space. My chins and calves were trapped between the door and the bottom of the Colt. The further she backed, the tighter the crunch. I screamed, “Stop Susie!” I’m not sure if she heard me – she may have just been miffed that I commented on her parking abilities.

The next day, I had four bruises – one on the front and one on the back of each leg.

I have more stories of speeding tickets and minor fender benders. One time I won a Ford Aerostar Minivan. I drove with my parents to Charlotte to pick it up. On the way home I was so tired I asked my mom if she’d drive for a while. She agreed and after we ate lunch she took my keys and promptly hit a light post as she backed out of the Hardees’ parking lot.

Again, she laughed. I failed to see her amusement.

I guess I’ve been blessed not to have a serious incident, but each of these accidents illicit a negative internal feeling.

The thought of my kid driving, and in particular having a front row seat to the action, is unnerving.

I will say that thus far she is doing well. I, however, am working on an ulcer.

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