One Day at a Time

He's coming. Baby Boy. We talked to him on the phone this morning. I was excited. I asked him, "When we're walking down the dock and I introduce you to someone, should I tell them, 'This is Baby Boy. He just got out of the big house'?"

"Well no", he told me, his voice low and gentle. "That's not very good", and then mocking my introduction he went on, 'This is Baby Boy. He's a criminal.'"

"Well, OK", I said, "Good thing I asked. Talk to your Father", and I handed the phone over to Fred, jogging and jiggling around the wheelhouse. "I'm excited", I said to the room, to Fred, to Baby Boy over the phone. "I'm excited".

Baby Boy's coming home in two weeks. This week my youngest daughter, Faith and I have been cleaning out the f'o'c'sle. Making room for Baby Boy. First, my daughter took a stab at it and then I did. Faith put up a curtain in the front of her bunk. That evening Fred dryly asked her why, probably concerned with more clutter on board.

"Well", Faith replied to him, voice indignant and somewhat mocking, "I'm going to be sleeping with a man in my room". You "silly thing" ringing unspoken in the air.

Baby Boy's coming home in two weeks. I fell on the ramp yesterday. It was raining and the ramp was slick and I went down hard. I told Fred later, for an instant, I was sure I'd just keep sliding down the ramp, across the dock and into the water. I didn't. I lept up after I fell, looking around to see if anyone witnessed my mishap and then continued about my chores for the day. Today I'm somewhat stiff and have a fabulous bruise on my elbow. "Look", I say pushing my sleeve up so my friend or the stranger can see the fabulous bruise. It's purple with a halo of very pale blue surrounding it. Three inches round. The purple is mottled. The friends and all the strangers wince. It's quite impressive.

Baby Boy asked us to look into AA meetings for him. He asked us, "Do you think I'll find work?"

Baby Boy's coming home in two weeks. We went shopping yesterday. At the beginning, it was fun. We picked up a couple of treats, cinnamon buns, the big kind, were on sale for 99 cents for two and we got a bag of cookies, Dad's cookies, the kind dipped in chocolate. Not a lot. Just a couple of treats plus milk and bread and meat and such. We went through the checkout. The fun stopped. The bill came to $73.24. The check out lady advised us that our bankcard had indicated insufficient funds. "That's not possible", my companion told her. She ran the card through again, dutifully, in good humour, no judgment. Insufficient funds. We went to the machine in the grocery store. We went to the machine at the Bank. We drove back to the grocery store and told the lady "sorry".

"There should be eight hundred dollars there", Fred advised me. Advised the checkout lady. Ran it through his mind again, "There should be eight hundred dollars there".

We went through a checklist and wondered inside and outside ourselves where the money had gone. Was it a mistake, a bank error? Did the credit card company we've been making minimum payments to get angry and scoop our balance? Did one of us make a mistake last time we used the card? We went through our minds like a child through a messy room. Desultory. Looking but not finding.

"We have a bank payment on Thursday", I reminded Fred. "if it's not a mistake you'll have to phone the bank."

Can't find out for sure until Tuesday what happened. Today's Sunday. The Bank's closed on Monday. My Dad died this week. I can't lean on my elbow. The bottom of the boat needs painting. Baby Boy's coming home in two weeks.

"I want to phone my brother", I said to Fred. "Talk me out of it".

"What would you say to him?" Fred asks. "Hi".

"Hi's not good enough. You have to say something more than that."

I start on another checklist, going from A to B for the benefit of my companion. "Well", I say to Fred, "I phone him. I said Hi." I pause and then continue, "I want him to say something to me. Is it up to the phonee to say something?" I juggle around the word phonee in my mind. Phony. Phonee.

"Well….ya," Fred answers valiantly trying to keep up with the conversation.

"Well then I have to wait for him to phone me because I don't have anything to say." I pause again. Longer this time and finally mumble, "I guess I'll have to wait a long time."

"I don't think your brother's going to phone you". Fred gave me these words. Quietly. Gently.

"Ya. I know. That's why I want to phone him….but I don't have anything to say."


Baby Boy's coming home in two weeks.

"We've gunjed out the f'o'c'sle", I told Baby Boy on the phone. "You have your own drawer, your own cupboard, half of a shelf and your own bulletin board. I washed your sheets. I'd like to wash your blanket but I don't know if I'll get to it. It kind of smells like Ripley".

"It's OK", and Baby Boy laughed. "It's OK".

"Here, talk to your Father", and once again I shove the phone across the wheelhouse and into Fred's hand. Taking the phone my companion said something like "I live with it all the time" to Baby Boy and then they talked about me. They think I'm a good person. I'm glad. My Dad died. I'm an orphan now. I wish my brother would phone. My elbow hurts. Eight hundred dollars. Where did it go? Baby Boy's coming home in two weeks.

I talked to Faith about Baby Boy coming home last week, before she started work on the f'o'c'sle. "What's on your mind about him coming?" I asked her. She didn't understand. Trying to help I gave her examples, "Oh, like I'll have to share my room or we'll fight about what TV shows to watch or I won't be able to have sleep overs as much or…."

She interrupted me, "Oh that!", and then looked a little uncomfortable. I gave her an encouraging look and she continued. "Well the only thing I'm really worried about is if he…you know…" I raise my eyebrows and let her know I didn't know, the tendrils of bad thoughts poking in the back of my mind. "If he'll snore", she confessed. "I'm worried about it that he might snore".

I laughed. I couldn't help it. Under control again I gave her what I could. I told her about Fred. "He only snores when I'm asleep mostly and if from time to time I'm awake, I just poke him. He doesn't like it but I poke him anyways".

It was all I could give her and I love her so much. Baby Boy's coming home in two weeks..