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  • It will be two weeks on Tuesday since the kids went back to Florida. The silence is oppressive. Our lives went from "full tilt boogie" to "Sargasso Sea calm" overnight.

    Our two months of summer vacation seems, in retrospect, to have flown by. We picked them up in Milwaukee on June 10th, two days after school let out, and put them back on the plane August 9th, six days before this semester began in Florida.

    When they got here it took a couple of days to not be worn out by the time Nathan got his bath and settled in to sleep, but we soon developed a routine that made it easier. Some of the weekday mornings, after breakfast, we would take him to the Boys & Girls club. He would spend a few hours in supervised activities. They even provided lunch. Somedays he preferred staying home, and that was ok too. We left it up to him whether to go or stay home.

    When we could afford it we bought a thirty inch deep inflatable pool and put it in the backyard. Nathan and the neighbor's kids had a lot of fun learning to use masks and snorkels. He went from being afraid to get his head wet to completely breathing underwater by snorkel in one day. Of course one of us sat in a chair nearby.

    The neighbors put up a trampoline with a safety net surrounding it. Both Nathan and Nicole took advantage of it.
    I've talked a lot about Nathan so far, so I should tell a little about Nicole. We were unaware that she had a boyfriend back home. We didn't find out for a couple of weeks. It helped to explain her sullen, antisocial behavior. She stayed in her room and slept most of the days and was up all night on her Iphone. She didn't want to do anything with us, and it took three weeks before she slept over at her best friends house.

    Most of the time she didn't want to be here. If we could have afforded it, we would have gladly paid for an early ticket for her to return home (with her dog). But we had several reversals of fortune just before they came, and had to wait to purchase their return tickets. That became a bone of contention with their mother, who was upset that we couldn't just "borrow the money" to send them home at a moments notice. I still don't think she is speaking to us.

    Anyway, as I was holding Nathan in my arms at the airport, he had his boarding pass in his hand waving it around over the railing of a stairwell. I told him to be careful not to drop it or they wouldn't let him on the plane. He drew back and looking in my eyes said,"Would that make you sad?" I told him "No, I wish you could stay forever. But it would make your mom sad." We both sighed and he hugged me tighter.

    The last I saw of them was a smile and a wave as they disappeared into the loading ramp. We waited another twenty minutes until they were airborne before silently walking up the terminal and out to the parking garage.

    For two days I kept the door to Nathan's bedroom closed in the mornings so I could pretend he was still sleeping and would soon crawl into my lap with his security blanket...and all would be right with the world.

    "some got to win, some got to lose; Good time Charley's got the blues"

    Ciao, Papa
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