tagGroup SexRecollections Ch. 20

Recollections Ch. 20


Chapter 20: "Retrospection"

-- Saturday, June 3, 2017 --

-- Lake Quivira, Kansas --

I must have forgotten how much I enjoyed driving my father's old 1999 Ford F-150 XLT super cab. Following his sudden passing six weeks ago, I learned that Dad's old truck was one of the items which he had decided to leave me in his last will and testament. After picking it up at the family farm in Pleasant Grove this morning, I then drove back to Lake Quivira and was flooded with memories along the expressway of riding shotgun with Dad when I was growing up in the 1980's. Dad had always been a truck guy. I recalled him rambling on about life back in those days, sharing old war stories and his love for baseball and the Kansas City Royals. Dad was my idol when I was younger and I always felt enthralled by him. I loved this particular truck because it reminded me of those memories in the trucks that preceded it.

After Mom gave me the keys earlier and I sat down in the truck, the first thing I noticed was that it had over 273,000 miles piled up on it. Wow. Dad always loved his trucks and took great care of them, so it really should not have been all that surprising to me that it had so many miles on it. Still, 273,000 seemed excessive.

At first when I left the truck felt too bulky, too slow, too plain for my tastes, with the faded blue stripes above and a wide silver band below that encircled its body. But as I merged onto Interstate 70 in Lawrence and got up to a good speed, the vehicle quickly began to grow on me and I took comfort in driving it. Just like old times, I suppose. I enjoyed knowing that Dad had driven it before me and, despite our disjointed father-son relationship since Christmastime in 2014, he still thought enough of me to will his most treasured material possession my way.

Once back home in Lake Quivira, I parked the old truck in the garage and thought about the events from yesterday, particularly what I learned about Alexa while at the regional shopping center. My wife had lied to me, as well as Merissa, about what happened two-and-a-half weeks ago during her final day on the job at the health club. Alexa claimed that her boss disrespected her with some cruel words and she suddenly quit. But in reality, it was the other way around - Alexa got angry at Bryan after he refused her request of personal time off, and she said some things that she should not have. He promptly fired her on the spot.

I had not been prepared to handle the thought of Alexa possibly lying or being dishonest with me in any way, shape or form whatsoever. The idea itself was quite foreign, unimaginable to me. Yet Alexa had her reasons (whether I agreed with them or not) and my love for her would not allow this isolated incident to create any sort of fissure in our marriage. Quite simply, I would not allow it. Alexa had otherwise been totally upfront and honest with me since the very day we first met nearly seven years ago.

We could not change what happened, but I believed there was good to be found in every situation. Along with Merissa (who had similar thoughts to mine when learning of Alexa's recent deceit), the three of us had a long discussion last evening and reaffirmed our desire to be completely open and honest with one another from this point forward. Nothing was too hurtful or embarrassing to share amongst ourselves. Whatever it was, the three of us would work through it together. That's the way it simply HAD to be. Honesty was the most important thing in our three-way marriage, in my opinion, and it was the glue that held us together.

If we faced this situation again in the future, though - one of us being dishonest about anything in our marriage or overall life together - there was going to be some serious problems.

I took a deep breath as I exited the garage and climbed the steps to the second floor of our waterfront, log cabin home. Just knowing that Dad's old truck was now in my garage, my possession, was suddenly churning my stomach. But I did not try to fool myself as to why. I wanted it and would take care of it as best I could, but I wish Dad was still alive and the truck was back where it truly belonged - under his watchful eye - in Pleasant Grove.

I knew Alexa and Merissa had seen this fractured, vulnerable side of me in the past six weeks. Hell, everyone in the family had. But I was glad that my two wives were not home at the moment, as well as the kids. All of them went out earlier with Michelle and Rick (Merissa's mother and brother) when I was taking care of business in Pleasant Grove. Michelle and Rick were visiting from Georgia so they could meet up and get acquainted with Asher, my two-week-old son with Merissa. But they were going home tomorrow.

Indeed, I was happy that I was alone in the house for the time being. Suddenly, I could not stop the flow of tears as I thought about Dad and the fact that I would never see him again. No one needed to further witness the evidence of my broken shell, not even Alexa or Merissa. I was too damn stubborn about showing any negative emotion around them. Yet I was tired of the pain, the constant reminders, the grieving which could happen at the drop of a dime, and I just wanted it to stop. But would it ever stop? Would I ever get over the loss of my father?

I picked up some toys that Cooper and Madison had apparently left scattered throughout the living room while I was away. I loved all three of my precious children more than life itself. Despite my tears, I checked my smartphone and wondered what time Alexa, Merissa and the others would be returning home. Lexi. Even her name sounded playful. She blew my mind last night with her honesty, her openness, her ability to admit what she did was wrong, and the vow to never do it again. Just the way Alexa put her heart into showing remorse with every spoken word, Merissa and I had no choice but to accept the fact that she made a mistake. Instead of ridiculing her or harping on about it, Merissa and I forgave Alexa and agreed to put the incident behind us forever.

I went downstairs and fell back into the sofa in the family room and again looked at my smartphone. I scrolled through the names in the address book. Alexa, Merissa, Mom, Dad, Hudson, Janae, Carl, Mike, Pamela, Tom, Wayne, Karen, Tracie and Sarah. I scrolled back up to Dad's name and hit the edit icon. _I love you, and I will forever miss you._ I clicked edit, took a deep breath and closed my eyes, readying myself for whatever emotions may be forthcoming, then opened my eyes and hit delete. I released my breath and sat frozen in place, waiting for the emotional onslaught to come. But it didn't. The house was silent, save for the fluttering of the curtains. My pulse remained steady. My gut did not take a swan dive off the cliff.

I carried my smartphone upstairs and went out to the porch.

"I finally did it. I suppose that's a start." Deleting Dad's entry from my smartphone felt sort of therapeutic. I looked up at the sky, Heaven above, and debated my next move. I felt as if I was in a giant chess game - the game of life and mourning - and the right move may just be what I needed to progress and finally get to the other side, but the wrong move would take me out of the game altogether and I would be forever pinned in. I swiped Alexa's entry for speed dial, and she answered on the third ring.

"Jeremy," she greeted, her voice sending a thrill through my soul. Obviously, Alexa looked at the caller ID before answering her own smartphone. "Hi baby. You get the truck? How'd it go?"

I pictured Alexa's own tears from last evening when she was asking for forgiveness from Merissa and yours truly. All night long, I had the constant urge to hug her and say that everything would eventually be alright. Right now, I needed to hug her yet again - but for an entirely different reason.

"It went okay. Mom isn't doing so well, but we talked about Dad and some other issues, and it was good. A real good talk."

"Yeah?" Alexa asked.

I could hear the restraint in her voice and knew she had a million questions. But now was not the right time to discuss them. "Yeah, I'll share the details when we're with Merissa, probably later tonight." I winced and added, "When are you two and the kids getting home? Everyone having fun?"

"We don't want to stay out too long because this is Asher's first time being away from the house other than to go to the pediatrician's office. But we're having fun at the park. You have any ideas for us later? Anything on your plate tonight?"

"Hopefully you and Merissa are." I rolled my eyes at those words, sounding as if they came out of a cheesy movie. "I mean..."

Alexa laughed. I loved her sense of humor.

"That sounds perfectly fine to me," she mused. "But Merissa wants Michelle and Rick to stay late tonight since it's their last night in town. You and I could sneak away for a bit later on and talk if you want to, give them some privacy. Sound good?"

"I would like that very much."

"I know it's rough on you having to pick up your dad's truck. You told me about all the memories it would bring back."

"When do you think you all will be home?" I asked again.

"Soon. Probably two hours tops, I'd say," she offered. Yet it seemed like forever to me. "Would you like anything from the store? We are stopping there on the way and I can pick up whatever you like. Any snacks, a certain drink?"

"No, I'm fine. I'm just tired ... but not from work. It was really difficult to drive Dad's truck back home after Hudson came over and dropped me off at Mom's this morning."

I could sense Alexa frowning through the telephone connection itself, her sympathetic nature kicking into high gear. "Why don't you lie down, baby, and take a nap? You'll feel better. Oh, I wish I was there for you now. You didn't get a lot of sleep last night as it was. We all stayed up late talking about everything."

Alexa knew that I spent most nights lying awake recently already, falling in and out of fitful sleep. How many countless hours had I spent feeling heartbroken about Dad, replaying that morning six weeks ago when Hudson called and informed me of his passing? When I closed my eyes at night, I often heard Hudson's voice.

"I may just do that." I forced a smile.

"I love you, Jeremy."

"I love you, too. See you soon, honey."

I sat on the front porch for a few moments with my knees pulled up, my hands drawn together on either side of my face, and my chin resting on the length of my thumbs. I wished Dad was still alive and the bitter separation I had with Mom was still ongoing. At least Dad would still be here, right? I would not be feeling so empty and hollow inside if that were the case. And there would still be hope that one day, I could reconcile with both of my parents instead of just one as I was in the process of doing right now. Even if it never happened, I had always clung to the idea - the simple hope - that I could somehow make peace with Mom and Dad. Sometimes, all anyone has is their hope. I lived off it for years. Not any more, though. Dad was gone, and I had to deal with it.

I reclined back on the hard, wooden surface of the patio and gazed up at the endless, blue skies, recalling the other half of the discussion I had with Alexa and Merissa last evening. I heard the sound of some overanxious teen-aged kids playing not too far from me on the beach. Would that be the sound of my own kids - 12, 15 years - down the line? I draped an arm over my eyes to block out the blaring sunlight and wondered if I could fall asleep with the harsh, unforgiving wood beneath me at my back.

After five weeks of not exactly being upfront and honest myself, I finally came forward last evening and fessed up to my two wives about the dream/visitation/hallucination/whatever-it-was I had with my father the day after his funeral in April. Alexa and Merissa sat in silence and listened as I explained to them, in exacting detail, the events of my visit with Dad. About how we were sitting in Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City without another soul in sight, in the middle of the night, yet with all the overhead lights on.

Dad spoke to me about family and love, and seemingly gave his blessing for my three-way marriage with Alexa and Merissa. The scene shifted, and suddenly I was in a sold-out, rocking stadium with Dad, and we watched the final out of Game 2 of the 2015 World Series, when the Royals defeated the New York Mets, 7-1. Just like when I was younger, Dad and I were at the ballpark again. A few days later, the Royals won their first championship title in 30 years.

Alexa got a real kick out of Dad telling me that she would give birth to a daughter next summer, in 2018, named Brooklyn. Likewise, Merissa had the expected reaction when I informed her that Dad said he had met up with her own father in Heaven. He was incredibly proud of the young woman she had grown and matured into, Dad said, and could not be any happier that she had Alexa and yours truly in her life. Merissa's father watched over her like a guardian angel. She broke down and became highly emotional at the mere thought, let alone the excess details I shared concerning what Dad said about him.

Alexa refused to criticize me for believing that whole episode was somehow real. It was real, I told her; it really did happen, and it was not a dream (despite the fact that it ended, you know, when I woke up in bed that morning). Dad really did come to visit, and take me on a little journey! I tried to tell her, but Alexa simply claimed it was good to dream and that I should hold onto the images and ideas this one created forever.

Alexa also pointed out that her and I having a daughter next summer was not too far of a stretch. We already intended on striving to get her pregnant in the next few months, and it was a 50-50 chance whether the child would be a girl (or a boy). Alexa, however, had no resolution as to how the name Brooklyn popped up. She said it was her preferred name for a possible daughter, yet never once told me that prior to the dream/visitation itself. It seemed far too much like a lucky coincidence to me, and it was one of the major reasons why I believed Dad actually did visit.

Sharing those details (and upsetting Merissa in the process) was another reason, I suppose, why I felt so down and gloomy this afternoon. It was not easy to try to convince both of my wives that I had been visited by a ghost. Nor was it easy to recollect and go over every word that Dad had said to me that morning. I was always so cool and level-headed, and this simply was not like me.

Was I losing my mind?

"Jeremy, how are you doing, son?"

Hearing my father's voice brought a thick lump to my throat and all of a sudden I felt like a little boy again, climbing into his lap whenever someone at school had hurt my feelings. I spun over, still sprawled out upon the hardwood patio deck of my home, and saw Dad standing there with eternal sunshine beaming down on him. I momentarily glanced at my hands. Was this real, or a dream?

"Hi, Dad," I managed. "How are you?"

"Oh, I really cannot complain. We had two mares born, and Terry is taking good care of them. They're doing great." Two mares? Terry? Uncle Terry? The same Uncle Terry who passed away over a decade ago? The same Uncle Terry who, at the time of his passing, it nearly broke Dad's heart that he had lost his older brother?

Among his many specialties on the family farm back in Pleasant Grove, Dad was an affluent horse breeder. Was Dad telling me that he and Uncle Terry were breeding ethereal horses on a farm in Heaven?

"Enough about me. How's my boy?"

I stared at him with hot tears brimming in my eyes. Again, was this real? I remembered lying down here on the porch and staring up at Heaven just a few short minutes ago. I felt so tired and strung-out. Had I fallen asleep and started dreaming again? Or was this a true out-of-body experience?

"Good, Dad. I'm good." I wiped the tears from my eyes with the length of my forefinger. "Is this..." Real?

"I'm glad that you and your mother are putting forth the effort to mend your relationship, son. And speaking of sons, I have to say, congratulations on Asher's birth two weeks ago. He's a handsome, little guy." Dad smiled gently and added, "Rick and I were there in the delivery room, watching and cheering Merissa on. You make Rick proud as her husband, son."


Dad rolled his eyes at me. "Merissa's father, silly."

I sighed. "Oh God." Rick Sr.

"When Asher got stuck on Merissa's pelvis during delivery, it was not the wonders of medical science that prevented Merissa from having to undergo immediate, emergency surgery, and help guide him out and through." What? The major, scary complication Merissa faced while giving birth? Asher's skull had somehow gotten wedged on Merissa's pelvic bone. He was stuck, and the hospital staff contemplated immediate surgery. "Grandpa Rick saw him out."

What the hell? I vehemently shook my head and, if this was a dream, I did my best to snap out of it. How was I supposed to tell Merissa that not only had her father been right there in the delivery room while she gave birth to Asher, but he also aided her in the process? Rick Sr. saw to it that things didn't get any worse. It wasn't the doctors and nurses. Merissa would surely go off the deep end with that news!

But instead of waking up and returning to reality, where I so badly wanted to be, I suddenly found myself in the passenger seat of Dad's 1979 Ford F-100 Flareside truck. What, this old thing? I looked out at the scenic Kansas countryside, lush and verdant as it was, just beautiful, rushing by as Dad drove along Interstate 70. Dad totaled this truck in an accident in 1988, when I was just 14, and sold it to a junkyard for a measly $10.

How the hell could I go from my porch to the outskirts of Lawrence, some 30 miles away, in the beat of a heart?

"How have the Royals been doing lately? Seems as if they've fallen on hard times after winning the World Series in 2015."

I held both arms out in front of me and made wild motions with them. "Dad, I want this to stop! This isn't real. You're not REAL! I just want to wake up! How am I going to explain this off to Lexi and Merissa? I mean, you show up and tell me that Merissa's own dad saw to it that Asher..."

I took a glimpse in the passenger side visor mirror. It was me, no doubt, but I did not look 43. Holy fuck! I was 14 again. I glanced down and noticed the vintage, late 1980's wardrobe I had on. The Air Jordan sneakers, the stonewashed jeans, the ... Kansas City Chiefs jersey? #35? Christian Okoye? The big, bruising fullback from back in the day - and once my favorite player - who lost his playing career way too soon to injury? I thought his nickname was cool back then - The Nigerian Nightmare.

When was the last time I had thought of an old football player who retired all the way back in 1993?

"Do you really want me to stop, son, and go away?" With those words, Dad snapped his fingers and, just like that, we were in the back fields of the family farm in Pleasant Grove. I raised my left hand on pure instinct and caught a baseball, which had been whizzing my way, with the glove that covered it. I looked down and noticed that I had my adult body, my current form, back.

"Come on, Jeremy," Dad yelled at me from perhaps 100 feet away. He smacked his own mitt and nodded my way. "Let's see if you still got the throwing arm you once did."

A smile actually came to my lips as I reared back and let it fly. "Oh, I still got it, alright." What? How could I pass up the opportunity of playing catch with Dad one more time? This was, after all, my most cherished memory from when I was growing up on the farm. Getting to play catch with Dad in the back yard when I was a kid.

He again tossed the ball my way. "I'm proud of you myself, son, and the man YOU have grown and evolved into. But I do have a question. How come you never told your mother or I the truth about what happened in your relationship with Suzi?"

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