Nine rehearsals in twelve nights had me weary. As such, plans were for a weekend respite in Chicago blending rest, relaxation, running lines, and Lucy. It didn’t quite play that way, of course— but what did unfold was so much better…

Barely through security, my one eye not searching for Starbucks caught the scoreboard. Imagine! An earlier, catchable flight could land in O’Hare two-plus hours early. I would grab it, I resolved, unless a) there was an upcharge to switch or b) the walk to the new gate was prohibitive.

It all worked out.

“Lucy wants you to sit next to her,” urged MY baby. “Jason’s golfing; you came in early.” The back seat was ours—gladly.

“Pappy!” the little sprite exclaimed, her smile all aglow.

(Ed. Note: The kids offered me a choice as to a call name. “Grandpa” didn’t fit, I’d figured, since that would have meant I was in my sixties. “Papa” seemed to be everyone’s tag and frankly, I didn’t like the connection to Hemingway. Ah, but “Pappy” was perfect. Years ago, you see, Morris Adelman was dubbed Pappy. He was Aunt Etty’s dad, and a sweeter man you couldn’t find. Sort of like my cousin Gary, with white hair and whiskers).

It was a brilliant Saturday, and we went back to their house.

“Lucy,” show Pappy how you bounce,” urged the mother. And with that this nearly-three year old leaped on her trampoline and played ubergymnast for nearly an hour.

Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce on her tush…and bounce right back up. We were clapping of course, as the kid kept in rhythm.

“Thank you,” she nodded, without losing stride…until inevitably…every what seemed like five solid minutes…she’d give us that semi-curtsy:

“Ta da!” she beamed….before starting again.

(Ed. Note 2: We might still be doing that — I mean the bouncing and applauding thing, but for …

“I have to go potty!” she proclaimed.

“Oh, Lucy, Run!” urged NOT ME. The kid took off —bolted — like she was tagging from third with winning run.

(Ed. Note 3: This was good for all of us. One got relief, another felt pride, and me? I checked my email).

My weekend was many things like that. Sometimes light, sometimes real…always warm. Indeed, the “takeaways”, as the new verbiage goes, were the visuals — the images I flew home with:

Like walking hand-in-hand with The Little One at a carnival—
And watching Jason throw darts to win her a banana—
And riding a merry-go-round with MY Little One as Lucy watched—

Like Sunday breakfast at (where else?) Eggsperience —
And a field trip to Chicago’s Heinen’s. (It felt good, I’ll admit, when its transplanted employee flagged me down with “Hey, may I ask if you’re from Cleveland?)  —
And getting one-on-one time with Adam. (Ed. Note 4: Yes, Stace had me walk him outside and Yes, she called me in the midst to make sure I picked up after him, and YES, I sure did).

(Ed. Note 5: A video of the dog and the companion “still” will be made available upon request. My daughter’s no fool. To her it is Trust But Verify).

The common thread though was Lucy. Always.

And family.

On adjacent couches we watched Billy Crystal —Bones and I. It was maybe 100 Sundays into the show that the thought occurred: my brother should be here. Or Carrie. Or Bruce Bohrer.

The weekend also brought learning. I did not know for example … that I had backwash when drinking. (I don’t want to say Stacy glared when I picked up her soda, but the look on her face was the same grimace my father gave in 1969 when Stuart Fenton bought a Volkswagen). Nor did I know, for that matter, that there was a right or wrong amount of Sweet N Low to sprinkle on entrees. Really?   What are the things — two cents apiece? (This, I’ve deduced, is generational. Even east of Eden, up in Westchester N.Y., they keep count on my sweeteners).

Ah, but then Monday came. And the moments with Lucy — from every video on Mickey on my laptop to every Wheel On The Bus to Monkey On The Bed to…

… To the “The Day The Crayons Quit”, the brilliant but seemingly endless tome I read her…

… All these moments were winding down…into visuals…images for the plane…to hold onto.

I was dropped at the airport on Monday. Early.  If you’re early, I say — then you can’t be late.

Couldn’t sleep on the plane; I ran lines. Nine run-thru’s—that’s all— before opening night.

Respite? Not quite.  Rested?  Hardly. Yet it mattered not. I’d gotten exactly what I needed. In full.  I was happy.

Carrie met me at Hopkins.

— I kissed her hello.
— I shared of the weekend.
— And the very next morning I called my brother. We had something to                watch.

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