Chapter 13 ~ Remember How Dad Did It?
Basketball camp was over, Matt was looking forward to the summer basketball league. It began in two weeks. He already knew his team, the Celtics. He was hoping he’d get to be on the Warriors or the Mavericks, but he had no choice in his team. All the players were randomly assigned to the teams. He was sitting at the table with his laptop looking at the team roster.
“Hey mom, guess who’s on my team?” said Matt. There was no response, “Mom? Mom?”
He heard his mom’s voice, “I’m in the garage, Matt. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes. Is it important?”
Matt got up from the table and made his way to the laundry room, which had an entry door into the garage. He opened the door, “Mom?”
“Over here, Matt. Can you give me a hand?” said Grace.
“Sure, Mom,” said Matt. He walked around the car and found Grace looking at a stack of large dark blue plastic containers. They ran along the side wall of the garage from the back end of the garage to just shy of the door. The containers were stacked three high and filled with memories.
Matt stood next to Grace, he said, “What are looking for, Mom. Maybe I can help.”
“I know what I’m looking for, Matt. I just don’t know where to look. That’s my problem,” said Grace with an edge of frustration to her voice.
Matt turned and looked at Grace, “We haven’t looked in any of these boxes since we moved out of our old house and moved into this one. That was almost three years ago. What’s so important all of a sudden?” asked Matt.
Grace didn’t want to tell Matt what they were going to do this weekend until she felt the time was right. It was not the right time now, but she had no choice; they renewed their pact to always tell the truth. Why does it always have to be me to go first, she thought.
Grace said, “Jane and Larry invited us to go camping with them at Big Elk State Park. Remember how much fun it was?”
“That’s when dad was alive. He made it fun. Jane’s not fun. I bet she never camped out before. Larry doesn’t even cut his grass, what does he know about camping? I don’t want to go,” said Matt.
“You and I will be on our own. I was looking for our tents and camping equipment. I know I still have it in one of these containers. I just don’t know which one,” said Grace turning away from Matt and making a sweeping motion with her hand.
Matt shuffled from one foot to the other. He said, “The basketball league starts in two weeks. I’m on the Celtics. Joey Richardson and Derrick Matthews are the Celtics too. They are really, really good. I want to practice every day so I’ll be ready to play. It’s my first time in summer league.”
“Oh, you can take your basketball and practice at the park. Let’s start over here. Help me lift the top box down,” said Grace.
Matt didn’t move, “That won’t work, Mom.”
“What won’t work, Matt?” said Grace turning back to him.
“Practicing basketball at Big Elk won’t work. Who can I practice with, a bear?”
“Don’t be flippant, Matt. We’re going and that’s all there is to it, Now, get a positive attitude about it and let’s make it a fun time,” said Grace.
For the next thirty minutes Grace and Matt lifted boxes down, opened them up, closed the boxes and set them aside. Grace pulled the car out of the garage to make room for the discarded boxes.
While they were pulling boxes down and opening them up, Grace said, “Remember when we went fishing off the pier? That was so much fun.”
Matt answered without looking at her, “Yah, dad caught a small mouth bass and you cooked it for dinner. You even took a photo of dad and me holding the fish.”
Grace felt the lump in her stomach again. She took a deep breath and tried to think of a good memory at Big Elk State Park that didn’t involve Mike. She couldn’t. She decided the camping trip was going to be a disaster. If the next container didn’t have the camping gear, she was going to call Jane and cancel.
“Here it is, Mom,” said Matt pointing to a container at the bottom of a stack of containers.
“How can you be so sure?” asked Grace walking over to Matt and staring at the container.
“Don’t you remember how dad always wrote in code? See the markings on the lower right? Those letters, GMM that stands for you, Dad, and me. C is for camping. F is for fishing. And, G is for gear.”
Grace felt the tears come to her eyes, she turned away from Matt and headed to the laundry room door, “I’ll be right back. I need a drink of water.”
Grace went into the kitchen, grabbed hold of a dish towel and cried.