Thursday, September 3, 2009

Part II - Cherry Flavored Snow Cones

Ron and I picked a day and time for our meeting and I said I’d just pick him up since I knew where his parent’s house was located. Secretly I needed to feel I had some control over the situation and told him I looked forward to seeing him again.

So, on July 14, 2001, I drove to Ron’s house to pick him up for a snow cone. When I drove up in his driveway he was already waiting on the porch. I would have recognized him anywhere. The only change was his hair was now salt and peppered with grey, only making him look distinguished. I don’t know why it is that men grow distinguished with age but women just grow old. He was over 6 feet tall with broad shoulders and as he struggled to get into the front seat of my sub compact car I noticed he strongly resembled Larry Hagman, of Dallas fame. He smiled as he sat down and we greeted one another with nervous small talk. He politely told me he’d have recognized me and that I still had the same smile he remembered. I drove to the snow cone stand across town all the while chattering away nervously. I was grateful to be driving as it gave me something else to think about. We got our cherry flavored snow cones and took them to a popular duck pond near our old elementary school. I parked my car and before I could stop the engine Ron was at my door opening it and offering me his hand. I was definitely not used to such chivalry. We walked around the pond awhile eventually taking a seat at a picnic table next to the water.

It was weird talking to this man I knew but didn’t know. We’d never held a conversation in our lives other than on the Internet yet we shared memories of school days and mutual friends. We spent the next two hours telling stories about our marriages and break-ups. It seemed obvious to me that we were in very different places. It was more than 24 years since my marriage ended and the wound was no longer raw. He on the other hand was just beginning to let go of his anger and hurt. I think that is what finally put me at ease. I knew I wasn’t looking for a relationship and I knew that he was definitely not ready for one. It was a win-win situation.

Several hours passed while we sat there talking about our lives since high school. Ron had moved around a lot with his career while I had only lived in one home other than my parent’s house. Ron moved back to Oklahoma after his marriage ended and when his father was diagnosed with colon cancer. His dad passed away 3 years earlier and his mother almost ten years prior. I knew that Ron was an only child and I remembered hearing in grade school that he had an older brother who died. That night as we continued to talk Ron told me about his brother and how he fell on a tricycle handle bar causing a hernia. He was just turning 5 at the time. The doctor indicated the repair was a minor surgery and assured them all should be fine. Ron was just an infant at the time so his parents were juggling the care of a newborn and his brother’s surgery. On the day of surgery his mom and dad were told the operation had been delayed for a few hours so they left their oldest son in the care of his uncle while they ran home to feed their new baby. While they were home there was another change to the surgery schedule and his brother was whisked away to the operating room while crying for his mother and daddy. Ron’s uncle immediately called his parents but before they could get back to the hospital the surgery had begun. Ron’s brother had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia and died on the operating table before they arrived. Ron said the doctor continued trying to revive the child for almost two hours until his mother finally said, “enough.”

I just sat there thinking about my own children and trying to imagine the pain his parents must have felt. Ron continued the story saying his parents married just as his dad was leaving for WWII. His mother wanted to conceive a child before Carl went to war so she became pregnant with Carl Jr. Ron’s dad didn’t see his son until he was almost 3 years old. He had only been a part of his life for 2 years and then he was gone. Ron told me that his father was never able to talk about his firstborn son and that Ron had only recently learned from his uncle all of the circumstances surrounding his death.

So, now with both his parents gone and his only child living almost 2,000 miles away he was back home in the house his parents built when he was a kid, the house around the corner from where I grew up. Now, here we sat, 34 years after our high school graduation, telling our stories and filling in the gaps of time.


kenju said...

How sad about the older brother, I can only imagine the horror his parents felt.

I am glad that you two found each other again.

Arkansas Patti said...

That is just horrible about his older brother. What a terrible thing for his parents to go through.
I think it is sweet you went for snow cones. Hope you continue this story.

Nancy said...

Please go on.......I'm all eyes.