There’s a moment each trip west where a sense envelopes me that if nothing else occurs during the weekend, the journey was still worth it. That instant came mid-Friday at a conservative shul in Deerfield, Illinois.

Preschool at Moriah Congregation was due to let out. Poaching quietly in the hall, it was as we peaked through a window that Lucy’s eyes met mine. “Pappy!”
she mouthed (I couldn’t hear her) — and the lass began running. “Pappy!”

‘Nuff said.

Scooping me up at O’Hare, my Little One beamed. (All week she’d been saying she missed me, “couldn’t wait” for my arrival. One time–I swear–she called me her “rock”)! And yes, her face at the airport confirmed that she’d meant it.

Not that she hasn’t always loved me — of course she has.  In her formative years though, she lived with her mother…and there was that whole dynamic.  Still…

Sometimes (like this visit), I’d fly to Chicago the week ‘ere my ex and, much as my kid clearly would thrill to see me, it was still like going to a game in Columbus the Saturday before Michigan. Sure, the house would fill and fans would cheer, but you knew damn well that Woody was looking ahead.

I mention this as an aside only as my focus this week wasn’t Stacy — it was Lucy. My baby’s baby was turning three. Yes, the days filled with friends, family and frolic, but the nucleus always was Lucy.

Not that there weren’t other moments. Indeed there were. Some ordinary and some less-so, each is cemented in my growing mental landscape of Chicago.

—Like getting lost on the way to a meeting late Friday. (11pm Cleveland time, but we finally found it).

—Like Stacy asking me if I noticed her new couch and me nodding “Yes” with a straight face.

—Like Stacy noting new hardwood floors. Shining, they were, like the top of my father’s head … and I know it’s a good thing and all … but I kept thinking that Hal and I grew up in a log cabin in South Euclid and our bedrooms never had carpet. But Rooney was SO HAPPY! And Jason was SO HAPPY! (Which made me happy too, especially since henceforth can spill at my leisure.)

—Like having a family talk about serious stuff on Friday.

—And having nonsensical, “firing for effect” talks still on Friday.

“Stacy,” I asked, would you rather Lucy married a Chinese person or a Japanese person?”
“I don’t know, Dad—what do you think?”
(My answer surprised her).
“I never thought of that. Pretty good, Daddy.”

Lucy bounced for me Friday, as she always does. If I’d have had a trampoline like that when I was growing up my mother would have been glad she was deaf.

And then there was Jason. Continued contentment felt eyeing the fit between Stace and her hubby is trumped only by the peace known watching Bonesy play father. Good things are happening in the Windy City. Always.

And Adam. You remember him, that beautiful bichon I’d rescued from Parma only to have him pilfered from my midst and driven to Chicago (much the same as Irsay ripped the Colts out of Baltimore).

Adam napped with me Friday, for a bit. Unable to quite figure out how to turn on the tv, I settled for Youtube. “Twelve Hours Of Barking Dogs” played as we slept. (Like the good old days).

And then there was the conversation with Brother Greg. Ah, but I need to set the stage:

Stacy had summoned us (a third of the way through Lucy’s birthday party) to drive across the street and get three more large cheese pizzas. An easy gig, one would think. Have YOU ever been married to a first-time mother?

“And hurry!” we were told as we left for Whole Foods.
(One quarter mile it was, from one lot to another).
“It’ll be a half hour,” we were told, on arrival at the store.
(Greg called Bonesy, but his cell wasn’t answering).
“What do you think we should do?” asked my friend.
“No matter what we do we’ll be wrong,” I assured.
He looked at me.
I looked at him.
“We’ll take the pizzas,” I told the guy behind the counter. (It’s an old theater adage I’ve learned: be wrong, but be strong).

And so…and so… What do Jews do with thirty minutes to kill?

I got some chicken wings while Greg, he had sushi. I ate with my hands, as he — proving no one is perfect — used chopsticks. And we gobbled.

Within moments of digestion though, the telephone rang.

“We don’t need the pizza,” churped Jason. “They’re doing the cake now. Come back.”

…So we paid for the pizza and told them we’d return in an hour. And we retraced our steps to the near-ending party…

…And we hustled back—he to reunite with his wife and two sons.

—And me to kvell again at my dazzling Lucy, and (with her other grandpa), to leap in a pool of multi-colored plastic balls, and rejoice with our jewel.

Within moments the party was ending. The friends went home as the family packed up….

The only thing left was my smile.

One Response to “THREE’S THE CHARM”

  1. Stacy says:

    love you.

Leave a Reply