Why Did we Bring Him?
It was supposed to be a great week-end with the family. She hadn’t seen any of that side of the family for many years. It would be great to see Aunt Mona and Uncle Max. Mona and Max had 4 kids, the youngest were twin boys. Now Cousin Shane was getting married.
They climbed into the car, a thousand miles to their destination. They were excited to be going on a road trip, even though it was winter. The baby, Benny, was sound asleep in the back seat; the sound of the car was soothing to him. These are the times when breast feeding can come in really handy, no worrying about formula or bottles; milk, supplied at the right temperature, in convenient reusable packaging. Caroline relaxed, Benny would awaken and nurse. The car would continue to roll down the highway. Horace would be satisfied.
Night came, it got dark. Something changed after the last stop. Benny would not settle like he usually did. Caroline put him to the breast, and still Benny would not settle, crying like a chorus of fussy babies. “Horace, stop the car!” Caroline said, trying to be heard over the din of the crying baby. Horace didn’t like to stop; keep rolling, get to the destination. “No. You just nurse him, He’ll quiet down.” ordered Horace. “He isn’t settling. Stop the car!” Horace ignored Caroline. The car rolled down the highway. Horace found a rock and roll station on the radio, and turned up the volume enough to drown out the crying baby. Benny cried. Soon Caroline was crying too. The car echoed with the sounds of the Rolling Stones and the crying baby. And the mother, begging; “Horace – Stop the car, please!”
Horace turned and looked at Caroline. The tears in her eyes, and the moon glow coming through the window behind her warmed his heart. At the next rest stop, he pulled over. Caroline crawled out, then reached back in the car to retrieve her warm coat and hat, ensured that Benny was wrapped warmly, and carefully lifted him into her strong arms. The smell of the pending snow sparkled in the air. She held him to her heart, and hummed a gentle tune. Slowly, she walked up and down along the edge of the highway. Eighteen wheelers were roaring past, creating a wind vortex, drawing everything into the path of the next speeding vehicle. The first snowflakes swirled. Caroline walked and hummed, gently soothing the baby, their eyes met, and she let him know that everything would be all right.
From the darkness came Horace’s voice, piercing the night; “Come on now. Get back into the car. We have to get going. We should be there in a couple more hours.” Caroline looked down at Benny, then looked back up the road at Horace, tears rolled from her eyes as she thought; “What have I gotten myself into? Why did we bring him?”
The wedding was the next day. They awoke in a small room, with a new layer of snow making everything quiet and soft, like the earth had been put to bed, hushed and snug.. The foot prints in the snow, marched from the car to the room, Horace’s large prints, and Caroline’s smaller prints. You could see several tracks, as each went back and forth, retrieving what they would need for a sound sleep.
Horace turned on the TV; he said that he wanted to catch up on the news. He kept the volume low enough so that Caroline could coo to Benny, as he has his took first feeding in this strange place. They still had a distance to travel. Caroline resigned to that. The snow had slowed their progress; they still had several hours to drive on the treacherous highways The Wedding would be missed as they crawled down the highway on the unplowed white expanse. She hoped that someone would have been out earlier, forging a track through the snow, so that they would be able to see the edges of the road.
She called Aunt Mona; “Aunt Mona, I am so sorry that we won’t be able to make it to the ceremony. “ We spent the night in
, and won’t get there until after noon.“ “Don’t worry about that dear,” said Aunt Mona. “You take your time. The reception isn’t until 7 tonight. You can join us then.” Caroline sighed; she knew that Mona would understand. “Thanks, I’m so glad that you understand. Give my best wishes to Shane and Marian.” “I will dear, now tell Horace to drive carefully.” “I will Aunt Mona. We’ll see you soon.” Caroline hung up the phone. She looked at Horace, then at Benny. Was she crazy to make this trip in winter? Clear Lake
Ten hours later, their car arrived at the Chateau d’Arval: such a beautiful spot on the lake. The Chateau was built in the late 1800’s and spoke of opulence. A valet helped them into the Chateau, then parked their car. They stood in the Foyer, looking around for some signal which way to go, where to turn. The room was immense. They noticed a sign propped on the floor indicating that the “Harris Wedding Reception” was in room III. They followed the signs.
As receptions go, this one was pretty special, fancy room, nice food, good company. The main problem was the music. DISCO! And extremely loud! Anyone who was watching would have noticed the look on Caroline’s face as the DJ spun the first tune; shock and disgust. Benny had been sleeping. He had a nice snack in the women’s rest room, and Caroline put him into the car seat, and there he snoozed. That is until the music started.
With the first chorus, there was a faint whimper coming from the car seat. With each song, louder and louder, the whimper matched it; swelling in volume, until Benny was crying, crying, crying, rising to a crescendo; “Wah- Wah- Wah.”
Caroline looked around. Horace was out there dancing, dancing with all the bride’s maids, dancing like he knew what he was doing; hearing only the disco beat. Caroline picked up Benny, and went into the Ladies room again. She sat on that uncomfortable stool, and put Benny to the breast. Benny suckled; the breast filled and emptied of milk in a moment. Benny continued to suck; the vigor was going out of it though. Soon, Benny was calm. The disco beat throbbed through the washroom door. Caroline waited; Benny finally fell off to sleep. Caroline got up, and peeked through the door. There was no sign of Horace. Didn’t he notice that she was gone? Didn’t he even notice?
One of the other guests was in the washroom. Caroline asked her to go get Horace. A while later Horace knocked on the washroom door. He was visibly drunk. Caroline looked at him, she looked at Benny. She said; “Can you take him for a while, so I can spend some time with the family?” Horace looked into the washroom, and saw his son dozing on the floor in his car seat. Horace said “What did we bring him for?” Caroline shrugged.
Horace took the sleeping baby back into the reception room, and slid the sleeping baby and the car seat under the table. Horace sat down, and had another glass of champagne. He watched the dancers, he tapped his foot. He stood up and asked Aunt Mona to dance. Caroline watched Horace lead Mona on to the dance floor; she watched him swirl her around the floor. She remembered when he used to dance with her like that. Now, she had Benny. And Benny was waking again, and crying again. Caroline didn’t see him, she heard him through the din of the constant beats. She listened, and soon followed the sound under the table, to her unhappy baby. She reached under the table, and dragged the baby seat to her side. “I will take care of you dear Benny. Come on. Let’s go back into the Ladies room.”
It was a long stressful night for Caroline; Horace dancing, Benny sleeping, sucking and crying; and poor Caroline just barely coping. She called a cab, and while Horace learned how to do the Electric Slide, Caroline took Benny and walked out the main entrance into the waiting cab. As they drove off, she looked at the beautiful Chateau, the small corsage on her shoulder, the ring on her finger, and the baby in her arms: tears came into her eyes.
“Why did we bring him?”