Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Once upon a time....

Once upon a time, we moved to So Cal for Mr. B’s new job. That job is old history now, but we have stayed here, and come February, we will have been in California for 13 years.

During that time we’ve finished raising our kids (at least in that hands-on, homework impregnated, chauffeur to soccer practice, curfew enforcing sense). We learned a lot, experienced a lot, and we’ve met and known some wonderful people. One of them will always be “the best son I never had!” (His words - and I wholeheartedly agree!)

He came to be a part of our family about 2-1/2 years ago. We had known of Patrick since we first moved here, as he was the son of our minister, and he and Karen were the same age/grade at school. They weren’t very well acquainted, but they each knew who the other was. Though Laurie was two grades behind him, he and Laurie were good friends and got into a lot of mischief together……for lack of a better word!

One of our first real memories of Patrick was the night we found him and Laurie sitting in her room talking at about 4 a.m. He had climbed up a little hill on the side yard, leaped to the roof of the garage, scrambled up to her window, and crawled in……It was during the beginning of the turbulent years with Laurie and I was working but kept hearing a young man’s voice laughing and talking, and went to investigate…..there they were just jabbering away, innocently enough, in her room. I remember Mr. B chasing him out the door and bellowing something about not ever coming back…..well, it WAS 4 a.m.!! I recently found a couple of pix of him from those years, while cleaning/painting the girls' rooms.....

Fast forward a few years…….the aforementioned turbulent years continued to wreak havoc upon our hearts and we all managed to get through them….. although Laurie was not with us for several of those years. She was finding her way (in some instances The Hard Way) and there was nothing we could do except wait. Patrick’s family was going through much the same thing.

Our Laurie came back home. It has been a long hard road for her and we are SO proud and so grateful. After she had been here a few months, she found out that Patrick wanted to sort things out and needed a place to stay. His parents had moved from this area to a new church while he was living away from home. He needed to stay in this area, and he needed a place to call home. Laurie asked if Patrick could stay with us, and we opened the door to the house, and just that quickly, the door to our hearts. I’m so GLAD he came to stay with us. He immediately won over the biggest hurtle - Max the Wuss Magnificent.....even Max sensed his good heart and after snapping at him initially, decided he was okay and regularly begged to be patted!!

This is Patrick and his brother Tim (who visited regularly before he moved to Salt Lake City) and Allie (Patrick's then-girlfriend and Laurie's friend) who has since moved to Australia.....Here they were all together to celebrate Patrick joining our crazy household. During the first year, Tim visited often and even joined us for Christmas. I thought it was so neat that Patrick could have at least part of his family for that first Christmas that his parents had moved away….. He has since been able to get some vacation time and visit them in their new home, and looks forward to a possible family reunion in Salt Lake where Tim lives now!

Back to our story. Laurie promptly went to Ikea and got a metal bunk bed set and claimed the bottom bunk…..with creative arrangement, the tiny room that had seemed too crowded for just her, became big enough for both of them, as long as they were very careful moving around!

The irony was not lost on him, I am sure, as he joined Laurie in the same room Mr. B had once chased him from!

Birthdays came around, and came around again! Patrick's and Laurie's birthdays are one day apart!

(notice Max poking his nose under Patrick's elbow, trying to get some attention!)

Over the next two years and several months, he roomed first with Laurie, then with Karen. After about a year, Laurie decided she wanted her space back….and Patrick said something about “well, I guess I need to look for a new place to live….” Karen piped up with “why don’t you just move next door?” and so he did…..the bunk beds traded rooms with the single…..

Laurie got her space back and Karen and Patrick embarked on the creative arranging that was necessary to enable them to share an equally tiny room that had seemed crowded with only Karen in it….

And again, it worked really well! I likened it to them being on a space shuttle, or in a very small co-ed dormitory.

Throughout those years, they slept in their clothes and learned to lock doors while changing. They learned how to coexist in a very small place. They worked out transportation issues, sharing the bathroom and budgeting. They grew close in ways only siblings can. Patrick was a stabilizing presence in our home. He quickly became a big brother to them both. He helped Laurie see reason sometimes when she was frustrated and we couldn’t seem to explain things. He encouraged her, and she him, in the rebuilding of their lives.

He suggested that Karen get a second job with Chipotle and helped her get scheduling at that job that worked with her various studying crunches or thesis writing. That helped make THIS day possible:

He registered his opinions the events in their lives…..and likewise, they checked out his girlfriends and teased him mercilessly about anything they could! They made him an honorary girl at the late night giggle sessions around the island in the kitchen. He gamely tasted Laurie’s tofu creations and Karen's Henry's Market finds, and survived my cooking.

He had a niece living nearby who encountered her own growing pains, and Patrick is kind of a “big brother/uncle” to her too, encouraging her and being helpful to her. He has such a good heart!!

He was helpful, cheerfully so, around our house. There was nothing I asked of him, that he did not willingly do, and do well. Everyone has chores here, and my floors were cleaned weekly by Mr. P. They had not looked that good before, and have not, since!

Life with us included some really strange adventures for Mr. P…Some adventures took brawn (helping load my Nana's upright piano to travel to its new home!)......some of the adventures required brains.....He has built several computers from parts for us (two were for a woman who worked for me). I loved having a live-in computer technician. I’ve restored or replaced my work computer at least three times during the time he was with us and each time, he helped me link my dictation computer (six phone lines going into it) to my work computer (which served as a platform to grab the dictation and fling it up on my website). We’re getting really good at that whole process at this point!

Here he had the dining room table covered with about four computers which all threw up in various directions. There were drives, parts, screws and shells of towers everywhere. Out of it came two dynamite computers that let Carol get back to work with me, and let her boys have a computer for homework and games, separate from Mom's!

He built shelving units in the garage.

He repeatedly and more importantly, patiently corrected our errors in programming and got our electronic equipment to work in the den…..

He helped me pick up a van load of plants from my friends Deborah and Joe one time….right before they moved. He demonstrated once again his sense of humor during the ride back home. Initially neither of us was really crazy about the fact that we were carting gorgeous plants, and likely a bucketload of creepy crawlies home with us….and at one point, I looked over at him, as we drove on the 91E in rush hour traffic and said, “so far, so good – nothing has crawled up here and gotten us!” He glanced over at me and said, “yeah, I’m glad” and then let his glance slide behind me briefly. His eyes got big as he focused on something right behind me, and he gasped “Oh My Gosh!” which of course caused me to grip the steering wheel, telling myself not to panic while going 75 mph in five lanes of traffic, as I screeched “WHAT??WHAT?? WHAT IS IT???!!!” I envisioned a tarantula, at a bare minimum, crawling up my seat towards me….

Immediately contrite, he said “that wasn’t fair, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that while you were driving – I was just trying to scare you!” And believe it or not, I was so relieved, I let him live….Snicker! I always thought I would get even with him by dragging the hose around to the little window over the shower on a winter morning and firing it down into the shower while he was in it….but I never got around to it.

He even buried pets that had been in the Morgue (freezer in the garage) forEVER, waiting for the ground to soften on the slope. Well, that was the ongoing excuse given as to why they had not yet been buried, month after month. He managed it in 20 minutes without breaking a sweat.

He helped make Max’s outdoor potty…..(here)

I LOVED having Patrick be a part of our family. He has a sense of humor that is quick, and made me smile! He took on responsibility and thrived. He worked hard, he got to work on time, and he became indispensable to his employer. He advanced in job responsibilities and salary. (He also brought home fantastic tacos and salads on occasion! )

But somewhere along the way, the very reason he came to live us became a completed reality. He had needed a place to call home while he gathered himself and his finances for launching himself again as an independent young man. And although I knew it was time…….

I’m so sorry that time came. (and very proud!) He has an apartment now that he shares with two or three other young men. He’s doing great! (I think! He's hard to find these days!!)

And our house is just Not The Same.

I miss my Mr. Patrick!!

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