Perspective. All you need is a few hours of sleep and you can find yourself overrun with fresh perspective.
When I got home from work yesterday, Wylie was feeling pretty good. I went outside and planted a couple of tomato vines in my garden and he wandered outside with me. Just before dark I went to get us some BBQ and when I got back the boy was having a relapse. It was the saddest thing that I have ever seen. His fever went up to 104 and his head felt like it was going to explode. He was lying very still on the couch. I had the ceiling fan turned on high and his shirt pulled up. I put a cold towel on his head and another on his neck. He just lay there shivering. “I’m told, dadoe. I’m so told.”
We prayed together for God to take his fever away and help him to feel good again, but God didn’t move fast enough to suit me. We had given the boy some Motrin and it did nothing. I thought that we could give Tylenol after two hours, but I was not sure. I tried to call my mom, who is a nurse, and could not reach her at home, on her cell, or even my pop on his cell. They knew that Wylie was sick. Why were they unreachable? I called my sister who is a pharmacy tech. She thought that we could give the Tylenol. Miss J thought we could give the Tylenol. I thought so too, so we gave it. This did not bring the fever down, but it put him in a deep sleep.
I sat beside him on the couch and held a thermometer under his arm while he slept. I had my head down staring at the digital display as if I could make his temperature recede by sheer force of will. This was not helpful to anyone.
So Miss J and I ate our BBQ. We sat and ate and I confessed about school. I have failed. For a third time I have started college and fucked it up. I have to stop going for a while and reevaluate. I have no choice in the matter anyway. They don’t want me around and I don’t blame them. I have failed, I have wasted money, I have wasted time, and I have accomplished nothing.
Then the funniest thing happened. She took my side. She said that she still loved me just as much as when I was a straight-A student. More even. She said that the way she feels about me is not based on my accomplishments. She said that she supports me regardless of what I am doing and only wants me to be happy and successful.
Can you believe that? Perhaps you can, but that was not the environment that I was raised in. I feel like a complete failure. She does not think that at all.
Wylie was still red and hot. We tried to get him to roll over and expose his belly to the fan. He would not move, he would only moan. More prayers.
At this point it was getting late and close to out anniversary. Our tradition is to get out the wedding pictures and reminisce on our anniversary night. We figured there would not be a more appropriate time, and it was better than watching Wylie sleep and wringing our hands.
So we went back to the bedroom and got out the picture albums. Pictures from our trip to Nashville with my parents in the summer of 1996. Miss J and I had been dating for about a month when Mom and Pop invited us to go on vacation with them. My mother loves to shop on vacation. On our first day in Nashville we found ourselves at a strip mall. The girls went one way and Pop and I the other. We stumbled across a diamond outlet. The engagement rings were on sale. Dad let me put one on his credit card. Miss J caught wind of it and I had to give it to her. We got engaged on the sidewalk at an unnamed strip mall in suburban Nashville. My parents were walking behind us. That night we all went out to eat at the Olive Garden, then on to the Grand Ole Opry. How romantic.
Then we saw the pictures of our wedding day. Everyone that is important to us was there. Everyone that we thought was cool was there. My groomsmen were my crew. We all wore white socks with our tuxedoes and styled our hair into the biggest pompadours we could muster. When we marched in to the processional piano we broke out of line, wandered among the tables where the guests were sitting, and converged back at the podium. Miss J appeared at the back door in a white glow. Beautiful. Perfect. Her dad made some speech and Pastor Tim said some stuff and then I laid one on her, big time. The wedding kiss drew whoops from the crowd. Well, it drew whoops from the groom’s side - the side with the redder necks.
Pictures from the reception. My band played. That was my slick maneuver to get out of glad-handing all of the guests, I played guitar and sang at my own wedding reception. We had on our wedding tuxedoes and our white socks and our rock-and-roll- hair and we played some extra loud jams. Miss J danced with her grandfather. My dad danced with crazy old ladies from his church. My hippie brother-in-law danced with every girl in the room. Old people held their ears and murmured in the back. There was a picture of John and Janna Barber eating biscuits and gravy. They were just John Barber and Janna Young then. They would be married about nine months later.
When it was over, the Maid of Honor blasted me in the eyes at point blank range with birdseed. Somehow we found our way to Dan’s sister’s Honda and there sat my best buddy Dan with a lit Camel cigarette waiting for me. He drove us downtown to the fanciest hotel were Miss J and I, now mister and missus G, went upstairs and ordered some steaks from room service, by god. Send us some steaks! Big damn steaks, for we are hungry!
Outside our window Riverfest was going on.
Then we saw the pictures of our honeymoon in New Orleans. We ate seafood and went to bars and listened to music. We shopped and went to the Aquarium of the Americas. We spent a ridiculous amount of money. Every penny of the cash we got at the wedding. I flew on my first airplane. I stood naked in the windowsill of our honeymoon suite on one of the higher floors of the Hotel Monteleone and proclaimed my presence to all of Louisiana. There was not a picture of that.
Just by chance, there were pictures stuck in the back of the album of Miss J pregnant with Wylie, and then Wylie as an infant. Oh yeah, Wylie. I went back into the living room to check on him and his fever had gone away. God had delivered him just like we had asked him to. Shortly after that he woke up in a pleasant mood. He said he wanted to lie in his bed, but when he got in his bed he remembered the mac and cheese that he had asked his momma for four hours ago. The fever had come up and caused him to fall asleep before it was ready to eat.
So my happy little family sat around the living room in my house, at 1:00 in the morning on my sixth wedding anniversary and ate Kroger brand macaroni and cheese dinner. We all smiled and winked at each other. After our bellies were full we went to bed and slept until 10:00 this morning. Wylie woke up feeling great with no fever. I made us bacon and eggs. Whatever horrible bug had him feeling so bad yesterday has been vanquished from our property. Wylie’s visit to Mimi’s is back on. Mine and Miss J’s anniversary date and trip to Riverfest is back on. I am a horrible failure at school, but I have a wonderful family that loves me unconditionally. That is my perspective from the morning after.