December 27, 2019

dropping the ping pong ball & a hug from above

Twas Saturday, the 21st  and all through our un-decorated house - only Coach and I were stirring - he was going in early to see a few patients, being as quiet as a mouse.

OK, the rest of this tale will be told sans rhyme, cause that's all I got!

I asked Coach that morning in a rare moment alone before he left for work, 'Hey, what are you doing about the ping pong table?  Did you pick one out?  What's the story?'

Well, he said he was waiting to hear if I found someone to fix the air hockey table so he hadn't completed his research.  Oh.  Crap.  

Air hockey hasn't worked in a year.  Coach was researching putting a ping pong table on top of the air hockey table (not sure how to phrase that - just the top, resting on top of the current broken air hockey table).  I thought it was silly to do that unless we knew the air hockey table could be fixed.  Why keep a piece of junk?  Coach felt like it made sense - cheaper to just get a top vs a whole table.  I reached out on that Nextdoor website and asked if anyone 'knew a guy' who could fix an air hockey table.  One neighbor thought his son could do it, but then he didn't get back to us. 

I figured Amazon would save the day, but they could not ship me a table top or a table in time for Christmas.  Just when you think Amazon is capable of anything.  I tried to find one at a store that I could physically drive to  . . . oh, the horror of driving to a store.  Nope.  Then I checked into Letgo and Craigslist.  One family was giving one away not far from us.  This grabbed Coach’s attention, but the table looked wobbly in the photos and one corner was broken off.  I want this table to be a draw to our clan’s friends, not an embarrassment.  ‘OK, someone hold the table in place while we play.’

Also on Craigslist, a brand-new, in the box, professional grade table that folded up nicely in the photo.  It was being sold by a warehouse/business type thing – so price haggling was not an option.  Fear not, I tried.  It was almost ½ price of the retail price, so we said, ‘Let’s do it!’ 

The warehouse was a hike – out in the boonies.  They weren’t open on Sunday, so I told Coach that I would drive out there after Reg’s eye doc appointment and pick it up on Monday afternoon.  The plan:  dump it in my folks’garage until Christmas Eve. 

I swear this guy's arm was
the size of my torso.
On the 23rd when it took four big men, and a forklift to get that mother in the back of my van I knew I had to go with plan B.  What was plan B?  No clue, but I had a nice long drive to scrape one together. 

On my way to this place in St. Charles, I sent an email at a stop light.  I had read a Christmas letter from a family friend named Kathy the day before.  She ended her letter with 'If you ever find yourself out in St. Charles, give me a call!'  Well, heck.

Long story, but Kathy was my Uncle Pat's girlfriend.  Pat was my favorite uncle who passed away the year I was studying in Ireland as a junior in college.  I was devastated.   He was in his mid 40's at the time.  If it had not been for his poor health (he had 6 strokes when I was a senior in high school, was a diabetic, had been a smoker, etc), I think he and Kathy would have been married.  I only had Kathy's mailing address, but I reached out to my aunt and got her email address.  

Anywho - I emailed Kathy from a stop light and said, 'Hey I am a few minutes from St. Charles.  I thought I was going to make it to Mini's b-ball game, but my errands have run amuck and that will never happen.  Kind of a long shot, but this is my cell #.'

As the dudes were loading the table into my car, my phone rang and it was Kathy!  I said, 'yeah, I am kinda freaking out about the size of this table, can I call you back?'  She laughed:  'Yes!'

As I drove away, I called Kathy back.  She asked me where I was and when I told her the intersection she burst out laughing.  I was a few blocks away from her house.  Nooo wayyyy!

So, I pretended that I had NOTHING to do (like reconfigure a basement to fit this monstrosity in my van never mind find a moving crew to haul it down there while my kids were . . . where exactly?)   Less than a minute later, I was pulling into Kathy's driveway - she was on the phone with me telling me where to turn, etc.  It was faster than plugging her address into GPS.

Friends, I needed this little pit-stop from my life as one of Santa's elves on speed.  I love Kathy.  Wish she lived closer.  She never married.  She recently retired and took a fabulous 3 week trip to South America.  I gave her my little 'Well, you probably remember that I was always the black sheep of the family, and over the years that has only been exaggerated.  My family (that raised me) makes me a tad nutty at times. . . I've been doing a lot of writing, joined two writing groups and have gotten lots of great feedback on my stuff that I hope to turn into a memoir.'  

(my family does not know this and Mini, who thoroughly enjoys reading my stories, keeps giggling and asking me:  'What do you think they will say when they read this?'  To which I say:  'That would be a good problem to have, because it will mean I am getting my book published.'  hee hee

Kathy just laughed and nodded.  'Yeah, I think that's why you were always Pat's favorite.  You just did your own thing.  He got such a kick out of you.'
If I do head back to St. Charles, I MUST
delegate who cleans up the kitchen. 
Seriously?! Somewhere in the photo
below is my kitchen island.  

This was not new information, but it was a reminder that warmed my heart and was the exact Christmas gift delivered just when I needed it.  It was like a hug direct from Uncle Pat, sent through Kathy.  At the end of our hour and a half long visit (when I swear I stepping into a wrinkle in time), I told her that when the not-so-easy parts of life spiral out of control for me, I find myself saying:  'Do you believe this horse shit, Pat?'  

Ping pong table:  check

Awesome visit with
an old friend:  check

And, Kathy is interested in reading my chapters.  I look forward to her input and to continuing to stay in closer contact.  Maybe I need to disappear to the boonies of St. Charles every once in awhile to recharge.

Did anyone else get an unexpected treat this Christmas?


Gigi said...

That hug from your Uncle Pat sounds like just what you needed in that moment; as was the visit with Kathy.

Ernie said...

It really was - it totally forced me to slow down. Of course coming home to a kitchen that looked like we live in squalor was less than fabulous, but I whipped it into shape in no time.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I was all happy and good until I saw that pic of your kitchen. What in the hell? It looks like a crime scene and I would have lost my last marbles on everyone in the vicinity!!
How sweet to catch up with Kathy and your Uncle from the past; he sounds like a good one. Sorry about your loss.
I thought all ping pong tables were the same size? No? Did you maybe get a 'professional' one on accident?? :)
Christmas surprise for me? Possibly the 25lbs of dog hair that I vacuumed up for 3 days....and NOT from my 2 dogs. LOL

Ernie said...

Suz - Oh, this kind of kitchen disaster is not all that uncommon for me - unfortunately. If I focus on something outside the house or even in another room for a bit- kaboom! I wish I could say it was a freak occurrence.

The ping pong table size is standard, but if we had gotten just a top to fit on top of the broken air hockey table it would have been smaller -I think 8 feet vs 9. I think the thing about it being professional grade is that it is HEAVY DUTY. It never occurred to me that it would be so dang heavy. It cannot be jostled around all that easily.

That's some serious dog hair. Makes me sneeze just thinking about it. When I was fed up with Lad on the 26th (more about that in the next post)- I think I collected 3 baskets of dirty laundry from various parts of the house as I huffed and puffed burning off my frustration. The upstairs hallway is the worst - which I don't get . . . they are STEPS away from the laundry room, or their own room. PUT IT AWAY. Seriously never ending.

Bibliomama said...

The best unexpected treat was probably on the 23rd when I was in the kitchen getting the last bit of baking and wrapping done and one of my best friends and then our neighbours dropped in for a drink - I'm kind of socially anxious and I'm always a bit stressed about looking presentable and stuff when we're going to meet people even if it's casual, so it was perfect. I didn't have to do my hair, I just left my apron on, and I rested my feet and back and visited by the light of the Christmas tree in between bouts of getting shit done.

Ernie said...

How fun! You can see by the look of my kitchen that friends dropping in on me could be in for a real shock!

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

I love this post so much! I'm so glad you took the time for this visit. It sounds like you need to "find yourself" in St. Charles more often!

Ernie said...

Beth - so true! It was like stepping into a time warp and how great to pretend that nothing needed to get done?!