Following Don’s death, I returned to basketball games. The first time I went in, I felt odd. Dawn was cheering. Johnny was with the band. Sitting down and waiting for the game to begin, there was no one around me. One by one, young people came and sat close to me. No parents joined me. People my age still seemed to feel awkward with me.
Moving right along, let’s fast forward to the basketball finals. We won and were to play in the state playoffs in Albuquerque. I had a meeting in Albuquerque on the same day the playoffs began. Dawn and Johnny went to the game with others. I went directly to the university’s gym to join them as soon as my meeting was over. I had offered each of them the opportunity to invite a friend to go with us to a nice restaurant following the game and ride home with us. They liked the idea.
When I arrived at the gym, the score was close; however, we lost. Johnny and his friend waited with me in the bleachers as people began filing out. Dawn and her friend, both cheerleaders, joined us. We were about to leave when three others also showed up. Each said their parents sent them to me to ride home with us. With the gym almost cleared, I asked, “Where are your parents? I need to talk to them.” They each told me their parents said that I would take them home and then left them. WHAT? Now there would be eight in a car that holds five! While still being dumbfounded that friends left their children with me without saying a word to me, I increased our reservation at the restaurant from five to eight.
We climbed the steps to leave the entrance/exit of the gymnasium. Nan, with suitcases and a strange-looking box, was entering. Nan was a twenty-one-year-old young friend that was returning home to Portales from an extended trip. I said, “Nan, what are you doing here?” She gave me a frustrated look and responded, “I cannot believe this. I haven’t been home for several months. My plane came in on time, but my flight from Albuquerque to Clovis canceled. I called Mom and asked that she and Dad please come pick me up. Instead, she directed me to take a taxi from the airport to this gym, find you, and said you could take me home.” I was stunned. “What’s in the box, Nan?” She shared with no hesitation, “A dead fish.”
So now I had nine and a dead fish plus two suitcases to ride in my Thunderbird that seated five. Keeping my promise to Dawn and Johnny and their two invites, we scrunched into the car and headed for the restaurant for lunch. By mid-afternoon, we headed home. The uncomfortable ride began. In only a short while, teenagers in the back seat started poking each other. I asked them to stop. It increased. After multiple requests, and it not ending, I picked up the CB and said, “Is any trucker heading Eastbound?” Receiving silence, I asked again. “Breaker, Breaker, is any trucker heading Eastbound? I am having trouble and need help.” A nice man responded hesitantly, (I think a woman on the CB surprised them.) “We are. What kind of car are you in?” I pulled over to the side of the road after telling him and waited. In only a few minutes, he pulled over in front of us.
I then said, “Nan, you get behind this wheel and do not lose sight of me. Follow closely and, Frank, you are the biggest. You come with me.” With me dressed in a suit and heels, I dressed in for the meeting before the game, Frank and I climbed up the ladder and entered the bed of this tall truck. We asked if we could have a ride, and they agreed. The two truckers were kind. They asked all sorts of questions about my work and Frank’s schooling. We asked them about trucking. They were to continue straight past Santa Rosa, but we were to turn. We pulled into the truck stop, and Nan pulled right in behind us. The truckers asked if they could treat the whole group to a hamburger or a snack of some kind. The seven others in my car loved it when we all stopped to share this opportunity.
Following dinner, we nine scrunched back into my automobile and headed home. There was silence. Then my children said that they could not believe what I had done. They were mad. I explained, “Not a single person asked me if I had room to take another person with me. They are all friends, but this was too much.” I shared that I would appreciate it if they didn’t poke or yell at each other again. All were good.
We arrived at each home safely. I dropped into bed. The next morning I was awakened when my telephone began ringing. Several Moms asked me if it was true that I left our children and got into an 18 wheeler? They were not pleased. I said, “That is correct, but you left me and did not even consider what my plans might be.” We all remained friends, but I did not have that problem ever again.
Lesson: Be respectful and ask permission rather than assuming something about another person. I do not suggest this way to set a boundary for others. It was most likely not a good idea for me to do this, but all were safer!
Gifts: If there has been a death in the family, know your friends still care about you but are not comfortable. Make the first move, and it will be okay again. No one ever sent their child to me without asking me first. Word traveled. None of us, as friends and parents, would have had this problem if we had cell phones back then.