I wrote something about a year ago about how people all around me told me that they were seeing signs and getting signals from my late wife. She was seemingly everywhere when somebody needed them.
Just not with the five people in my house.
I know that sounds harsh, and I’ve had people even say “she’s there, you just haven’t noticed or looked hard enough.”
That could easily be. It could, I don’t know. I’m not the best person at seeing signs, signals, and allusions around me. I’m a guy. Like most guys, we need a 2×4 to the head to actually know when someone – particularly women – needs something.
But this isn’t about me. It’s not.
It’s about my kids. Two kids in particular.
I don’t know why . . . and you’ll likely have noticed I’ve been seeing the difficult parts of my wife coming out in my daughters lately. Now . . . my sons.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things that my kids do that remind me of the most beautiful and wonderful parts of Andrea. When Hannah walks up and hugs me; when Abbi giggles and dances around the house; when Sam sidles up and uncomfortably, nervously asks me something with a nervous laugh; when Noah smiles; they all have those bits and pieces that were the whole of their mother. When they laugh, particularly together, I can hear her laughing.
But then today . . . and yesterday . . . it all came sort of crashing in with the other parts.
The obsessive, compulsive, obstinate, have to get their way part.
This last couple days was the final work on what the school calls “biography in a bag.” It’s pretty simple, get some artifacts together that represent your person, dress up like them, put notes together . . . all that goes in a bag and you present it to your class. The problem is, both Noah and Sam had grandiose ideas but wouldn’t do anything about it until the last minute. Their reports were well done, well thought out, even completely researched.
But then came the costumes.
Sam and Noah both . . . “I don’t want to look like Sam/Noah does!”
I basically looked at the two of them and replied: “your guys both have suits on! It’s a suit! Not a Matlock searsucker suit, not a khaki sport jacket . . . these are guys from 1849 all in the exact same freaking black jacket, white shirt and tie!”
I got the Andrea Andrews cold stare. Logic be damned, they want their own way.
“What do you guys want to do?!”
“Any ideas?! I’m open . . . but it’s now 8:30 at night and your only options left are what’s in the house.”
“Daaad….” God, I hate that, by the way. It’s like they’ve started puberty, too, and they haven’t. “my guy has a beard!”
“Okay . . . do you think your teachers will let you have a fake beard on since you’re supposed to go to mass before class? Because all I can do now is split up cotton balls and glue them to your cheeks with spirit gum. Then you’ll need cold cream to take it off.”
I didn’t think it was possible, but their looks got colder.
“Let me make this just perfectly clear to you…at this point you have to wear the suits. Period! It was 18-freaking-forty-nine. They only way they’d look anything different was if they wore a zoot suit and those didn’t come out until the 20th century. So, for the love of God, (and here I heard Bill Cosby coming out of my mouth before I could stop it) you’ll wear suits, with different jackets, and Noah in a hat . . . because I Said So! ”
The boys rolled their eyes, threw up their arms and stomped upstairs to put on their pajamas.
Abbi looked up at me and simply stated . . . “and there’s Mom coming out of them for you.”
She was right. Andrea would pitch those same fits. Logic be damned, if she wanted something, she found a way to get it.
“Yeah,” I told her, “but the problem for them is . . . your Mom and I were partners. This is a dictatorship. Beside that, am I wrong?”
“No,” Abbi commented, smiling. “But were you ever wrong with Mom.”
“Yes,” I said, “though when I was right she would push, and poke, and push and poke . . .just – like – that.”
“Oh, yeah, I know,” said my daughter, getting a bit more down, “and I remember you guys having some real blowouts!”
She was right, too. Most of those arguments stemmed from both of us digging a trench and refusing to move, right or wrong.
“Yeah . . . difference is I’m right today.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Abbi added, then smiled and said “doesn’t make it easier to deal with.”
“Yep,” I told her, smiling, “should never surprise us that when your Mom decided to show up for us . . . this is how she appeared.”
Abbi looked at me, grinned, and put the period on the night.
“She always did know how to make an entrance.”