Vacation Part II: Where it all goes downhill
The morning started beautifully. We slept in and ate leftover spaghetti from the night before for breakfast. A.J. loves nothing more in life than his NeeNee’s spaghetti. Snails followed us from TN and the water was simply breathtaking. We were all in good spirits.
The pontoon boat was loaded and I was feeling incredibly peaceful. As I expressed earlier, I wanted nothing more than a day floating on the lake and reading my book. A.J. loves his extended family. He had really taken to Ashley’s new boyfriend Ricky and kept going up to talk to them. He’s also quite partial to my uncle Jeff and my cousin Tyler, so he spent quite a bit of time at the front of the boat. My spidey senses weren’t tingling and the boat bounced up and down in the water. My cousin, Justin, was driving the boat like it was on the way to some kind of fire only a pontoon boat can put out, so the rest of us were dodging waves and looking for some kind of landmark to tell us where we were.
I was snuggled in the very back of the pontoon boat with Leon and dreaming about my ideal water day. About the time I was ready for my imaginary hammock nap, we saw the sandy beach area. (dum-dum-dum) Justin slowly pulled us into the beach area and we planned on spending the day there. On the other side of the “sandy beach island” there were plenty of drunk college students dancing and grilling food. Various activities such as cornhole and beer pong were aplenty and there was only another pontoon boat on our side of the beach. What WAS on our side of the beach was a huge log and a rope swing to jump into the water and Tyler and Adrian immediately jumped ship to join the kids who were jumping from the rope.
I bet you know where this is heading, don’t you? I think part of me did, too, but the other part of me said, “Quit being an overprotective parent. He’s 8 now and if you stifle him, he will never have any childlike experiences.” I should have slapped that part of me and run after my kid.
Instead, I grabbed my camera and hoped for the best. It never turns out that way, though, does it. He did have one successful jump and splash. The second time, however, ended with him falling straight down and hitting both a tree trunk and deeply packed sand. I don’t remember much from that moment other than being angry that Leon just sat there (now I realize it was in shock) and that I couldn’t move until he did. I remember slapping Leon and yelling at him to GO!
Somehow, I still reached A.J. before Leon. I have no idea how as I lost my flip flops in the sand and my Baywatch run was definitely in slow motion. What I also didn’t realize, until much later, was that my Uncle Jeff got there much faster than any of us. He actually handed A.J. to me and then to Leon when I realized I couldn’t hold A.J.’s weight.
I need to take a minute here because high emotions offer the opportunity for a heart to be tightly sewn to a sleeve. My uncle Jeff married my aunt when I was in my early teens. He has been a fantastic step-dad to my cousins, Ashley and Justin, and an amazing father to my cousins, Tyler and Lola. He has been there for every person in my family every time they have needed him and done so with quiet strength and dignity that I think often goes either unnoticed or uncommented.
He and A.J. bonded from A.J.’s birth, as Lola and A.J. are about 3 months apart in age. Jeff is always the first to play with the bored kids or to deal with crotchety grandparents. He has helped me and Leon in many ways and he has been not only the best uncle I could wish for, but someone that I would genuinely call a friend to us. He’s one of those people that I wish lived closer, and it’s rare for me to feel that way about people. I know that he would do anything for my son. On the pontoon boat, on the way back to take A.J. to the hospital, he sat behind me to comfort me and A.J. and he will never know how much that helped me. I just wanted to take a second and thank him for everything he has been for me throughout my life and for my family. Thank you.
Ok. Deep breaths. Again, high emotion levels here.
When A.J. fell, Jeff handed him to Leon and Leon took him to the boat. We were instantly accosted by a woman in the pontoon boat next to us. She announced, at least four times, “Back off! I’m a first responder! You MUST do this. You MUST do this!” And gave us direction after direction. I tried to make it clear to her that A.J. broke his femur when he was 2 and we had a good idea of what we needed to do, but she would not be dissuaded. Her tone was making A.J. hysterical and our goal was to get her off the boat so we could get him back to the car.
Justin put the pontoon in full throttle, but it still took us 30 minutes to get back to the “mainland.” Water splashed over us from head to toe as I gently sang to A.J. to help keep him calm. Leon held his feet still and Jeff and Ashley and Lola talked to A.J. to keep his mind off of his foot. When we finally got back to the docks, A.J. looked at me and softly said, “Mama, can I choose the color of my cast?”
I grinned at him and said, “If you need one, yes.” He has his priorities straight. Color coordinating his cast with his clothing is important for fashion purposes. He also asked if Livvy could come with him to the hospital. I told you before thatmy sister is the most generous person ever. I don’t know many 13-year old girls who would give up their day on the pontoon boat to sit in the hospital with their 8-year old nephew. Her response to this was, “I would just worry about him all day so I may as well come.”
I love my family.