I’m nearing the beginning of one of the craziest weekends I think I’ve had since our story began. Not only is my daughter’s Prom this weekend, but tomorrow, in an agreement with my daughters months ago, we’re driving into Oakland to see The Black Keys play. This comes, of course, after we initially planned on seeing the band here in Sacramento on Saturday. It was all set, the tickets bought, the show ready, all of it. Then my oldest daughter, Abbi, gets word that the prom is on the same night as the concert. She was beside herself.
So being the problem-solving father I claimed to be, I found pre-sale tickets for the show the night before the prom in Oakland. It was supposed to be the three of us – me and my daughters, on the road immediately after my work. Instead, though, it’s just me and my oldest. My middle, Hannah, was supposed to be coming with us but she had one deal – the one thing she had to do in order to retain her ticket to the show: she had to finish and turn in all her homework. Now, sure, it sounds like a pretty low threshold to meet. I mean, after all, it’s the work that is due every day and should be no big deal, right?
We were doing well, though. Things getting turned in, the homework done, all of it. Even her grades had improved, to the point it looked like she would be an average student, which compared to the beginning of the year, was an amazing grade. But we went to Nebraska to see my family in March and the homework she had gotten changed while we were gone. The teacher gave her the assignment change the moment she got back, but one month later, in the middle of it all, I see a report saying she had 3 missing assignments. She used the homework change excuse, and I gave her a reprieve for a few days. All she had to do was find out what happened and fix it. Instead, she got embarrassed, didn’t ask the teacher, and the homework got worse and worse. Then, when I told her it was this or nothing, she flaked. Said she had to learn her lines for the school musical.
So I sit here tonight, just about 24 hours from sitting at the end of that show, and I’m having to stick to my guns. In the midst of all of this Hannah gives me the sad puppy-dog eyes and asking “can you guys call me and tell me how the show was?” I had felt bad until I found out that she could have avoided all this. That and the constant drilling into her eardrums to get her to do her one basic chore: the dishes.
I guess it was providence, then, that I could relate to her and let her know that life just isn’t fair. Throughout the day my younger brother innocently texted me photos: he and my older brother wandering Austin having fun. At dinner. Having margaritas. Then came the text saying “heading to the arena for the show now” and I was a bit confuzzled, as my daughter puts it.
“What show are you seeing?” I asked.
The response was a shot of the stage with a bunch of blocks on either side. Roger Waters’ the Wall – Live. It hit me like a punch in the gut.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: he’s jealous. He sees his two brothers having fun, on a weekday, off and going to a show and he isn’t. It’s not fair, he’s home caring for the kids. He can’t leave because it’s his job that deals with ratings periods and he’s in the middle of a major one. Dave chose this job, chose to have kids, chose all of it, so he can be unhappy and jealous all he wants but he just needs to buck up and deal with it.
But you’d be wrong.
This is almost an annual thing for my brothers. Sure, I was part of it at one time, but I was the first one to get married. I had love, marriage, a home with an amazingly beautiful wife and kids before they did. At that time they were single and alone and I had it. Now I’m widowed and they’re happily married. But this still isn’t the issue. My brother wasn’t being mean sending the texts, he honestly thought I’d seen this show once before, more than a year ago.
And he was almost right. I should have.
You see, seeing the Wall at San Jose’s HP Pavillion would have been one of the last “dates” I had with my wife. In fact, I had purchased the tickets to the show and had them in-hand. The punch in the gut today was the fact that I never saw that show. In the middle of the weeks prior to that show we reached a bit of a financial meltdown. Andrea’s liver had several ducts plugged and she had to have surgery to remove the blockages. She’d gained a substantial amount of weight as a result of whatever caused it all. Her circulation went bad. The knees that had troubled her were now completely shot. She’d been home on disability but the disability benefits ended. She was out. Home without work and no paycheck. It didn’t take long before things got really rough.
The last ditch effort for us came when they changed the day of the show by 1 day. The ticket contract said that if anything changed you could get a full refund. The fact was, it went from Sunday to Monday, which would have been bad anyway. Worse, we needed the money. We couldn’t eat that week. So I asked for the refund.
Not long after, pictures started popping up of the show. Then came word that a few weeks after the HP show David Gilmour played with Waters at the O2 Arena in London. Every new picture or clip was a reminder of how I’d messed up and how bad things had gotten for us. Not a day went by that I didn’t want to have gone to that show.
So I reminded my daughter tonight that her missing the show was a price she had to pay. I paid a big one missing The Wall. I had sworn long ago that if the Wall ever toured again I’d see it, but now I just can’t make it happen. The last tour everything fell apart. This one: I’m already going to a show with my daughter tomorrow. The Wall in San Francisco is next week. Not something I can do 2 weeks in a row. I have nobody to go with and I don’t know that I’d want to go. I so wanted to share another concert, a night like our first date, with Andrea.
But I’m going tomorrow with my oldest daughter. It’s killing me that my middle daughter can’t come with us, but I have to stick to my guns. Worse, she tells me how she understands and that it’s hard but she knows it’s her own fault. That plays on my heart strings a lot. So I’m going to see a band I like, but not one I swore on a stack of biblical LP’s I’d attend.
So I’m making it a nice night. We’re staying the night overlooking Fisherman’s Wharf and the ocean at an old renovated hotel. We’ll eat breakfast on the beach. And we’ll tell Hannah what she missed, just so she gets the lesson, and hopefully turns in all her homework from now on.
It’s hard to stick to my guns on this one. I missed what would have been one of the last, amazing, dates of my marriage. But I cared and loved her and the kids enough to sacrifice that date in order to fix the mistakes that could have really hurt us.
It won’t sit well with her, but at least I have something to look forward to. I have a date with my daughter, and I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do that. So I take the victories I can.