Thursday, June 21, 2012

Maintenance Required

This is the one that I sent in to my instructor today. Yet another memoir turned sort of short story.

Maintenance Required

As they rounded the corner to their street, the red “Maintenance Required” sign flashed on the dash readout of the van.

 “Oh, dear,” Peggy remarked, “guess I know where I’ll be going this week. Just hope I can get over this pesky vertigo so that I can drive.”

They had been to visit their son, Jeff, in Nashville, where he had recently moved his band, Velvet Melon, to be in the agent friendly area of Music City, USA.  A lunch date with one of the agents brought assurance to the band members that they would soon be on their way to copious gigs in the South. The guys were on their way to stardom!

When vertigo struck Peggy in the middle of the night, on June 30, it caused her and Tom to cancel their camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains and head home for the Fourth of July weekend. As they rode, the couple had talked about good things coming from bad—at least now, they’d be able to go to Velvet Melon’s gig on Independence Day, something to really look forward to.

Peggy always worried when she knew that the guys were on the road, so she was relieved to see the band’s motor home in the driveway. Thank you, Lord, for another safe trip!

Soon Tom had all the camping gear unloaded, and Peggy had taken the food and clothes inside. Thank goodness that’s over. The only bad thing about camping is unloading, she thought as she put the last of the food away.

After having driven all day to get home, neither Peggy nor Tom felt much like cooking in the hot kitchen, so Peggy called Pizza Hut, ordered a pizza, and went upstairs to get ready to go to pick it up.

As she walked up the stairs, her mind wandered . . . What fun seeing our boy in action on the stage! But it surely is good to get back home. Just no place like it!  Nate, the band’s drummer, passed her going down to the bathroom.

“Hi, Mom,” he said drowsily.

“Where’s Jeff?”

“He’s asleep. Been sick all day,” was all that Nate said.

Kids! When will they ever learn not to burn the candle at both ends? she thought as she shook her head and smiled that mother’s smile, not really understanding but not condemning. I guess they’ll grow up someday and take better care of themselves.

Not too long ago, she had chastised Jeff, “You should get more sleep. I know musicians keep late hours, but I know you, son. You need more rest.”

Jeff had shrugged off his mom’s warning with, “Oh, Mom, don’t worry about me. I’ll get plenty of rest when I get to Heaven!” Then he’d given her that hug that only he knew how to give, lifted her off her feet, and swung her around, causing her to squeal, laugh, and forget why she was fussing at him. That boy! He had his mom wrapped around his little finger.

Peggy brushed her teeth, put on a little lipstick so that she’s be socially acceptable, and decided a quick trip to the potty room was in order before leaving.

“Jeff!” she screamed. There lay her boy, lodged between the toilet and the wall, obviously unconscious.

Tom ran in, saw his son, and commanded Peggy to call 911, as he was yelling for Nate, who was just going back to his room.

Neither Peggy nor Tom knew artificial respiration, but Nate did. He immediately began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his friend while the 911 operator stayed on the phone with Peggy until the paramedics arrived. For Peggy, their arrival was an eternity when, in actuality, it was only about ten minutes.

Tom waved Peggy away when she tried to go in to watch what they were doing to try to revive Jeff. She immediately began to pray, Lord, please don’t let him die. Please. Please.”

Her prayer changed, though, when she heard clearly, “Are you sure that you want him to live, no matter what? “

I want Your will, Lord, but I don’t know how I’ll make it if my boy dies.

When she heard the next words, she also felt His strong arms around her. “I’ll get you through. I’ll be right here by your side.”

Peggy knew that the paramedics had given up hope for Jeff when, as two men carried him toward the helicopter which had set down in their neighbor’s yard, the one trailing behind had answered her question about whether or not Jeff would be okay, “He hasn’t breathed on his own, ma’am.” With that enigmatic answer, he left to accompany Jeff on a ride he had always wanted to make, one, though, that he had no cognizance of.

From that moment on, there would be “maintenance required,” but not for a van.

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