Chapter 6

The Parents’  first attempt at ‘parenting’ was to volunteer at my 7th grade “Welcome Back” school dance which incidentally was my first foray into “socializing” on a grander scale than play dates with neighborhood kids.   Some memories are best not shared.

Two weeks before the dance, The Parents descended unannounced upon a clueless Principal Nelson (such a nice, normal man).

He had previously been informed when Karlie began 7th grade that the parents of Karlie and Tobey Carlson had been tragically killed on their third attempt to climb Mt. Everest.

The Parents had bravely tried to rescue their loyal Sherpa who had fallen into a deep crevasse.  All three bodies were never recovered…so Karlie and younger sister Tobey were now being lovingly raised by a grandma named Sylvia…so you just call her if anything comes up.

This compellingly sad tale had been created by our highly imaginative grandma after a couple of glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Both Karlie and I thought it was a sound plan and we all agreed that there was no reason whatsoever to mention this to The Parents…ever.

But now…The Parents told the puzzled Mr. Nelson, that “Yes!  Of course we’re Tobey’s  parents!  Who else would we be?”

And they added for good measure, “We’re Karlie’s parents too!”  They figured this  further claim would seal the deal.

A hesitant and slightly confused Principal Nelson said he “would see if they would be needed.”

It should have ended there but The Parents were now on a mission and made sure of being ‘needed’ by donating $100,000 to renovating the teachers’ lounge.  They were more than ‘needed’…they were revered.

Imagine riding a roller coaster with no safety bar to hold you in place…that was my life for the next 6 years…

 

 

Chapter 7

Those six years were almost epic and I say ‘almost’ since no deaths or serious injuries could be directly connected to any participation by The Parents in any planned school activities.

It was, of course, no surprise that all of Karlie and my friends loved Iris and Rain.

Many evenings there were classmates eating pizza at our huge kitchen table that neither Karlie nor I knew…but they somehow knew our parents and had been invited over for “Pizza Night”.

We didn’t actually have a “Pizza Night”.

Shall I mention that in eighth grade Iris volunteered to be a confirmation teacher at our very progressive Lutheran church?  Sure, why not.

After the second week, kids who didn’t even go to our church wanted to join her class…and I’m talking kids from all religions.

God had never been so much fun.

 

 

Chapter 8

No easy way to say this…you know they die.

Three days after I graduated from high school, The Parents crashed their brand-new, chili pepper red Porsche into a large oak tree on Blake Road…four short blocks from home…

They had been at the club and perhaps celebrating or maybe even lamenting the end of this parenting phase of their life.  It was said  to have been “a spectacular crash”…the Porsche going well over 100 mph.

Karlie and I were completely broken-hearted.  Losing grandma Sylvia had been devastating but she had been ‘older’.  The Parents were both only 50.

They had left strict instructions regarding any ‘death celebrations’…no funeral, no memorial service…nothing.  Karlie and I picked up a large urn from Woodrow Funeral Home with both of their ashes inside.  They wanted to be cremated together.  Of course.

And then we all went home.

In less than two days, The Parents were back home, perched on the mantle over the fireplace in the living room.  Together…forever.

Karlie and I spent over two weeks in that room, mostly crying but laughing sometimes too.  We ate there and we slept there and we watched every single home movie The Parents had ever taken…over and over and over again.

We had only had them as ‘real parents’ for six short years…we were not quite ready to let them go…just yet.

Chapter 10

My bedroom walls are covered with black & white blow up posters of all the places I would like to visit but probably will not…Paris, London, Gloucestershire, anywhere in Scotland and  Stockholm.  Did I mention that I am a teeny bit claustrophobic?   Oh well, now you know.

I also have huge posters of every animal I have ever owned…except for the 4 goldfish I once bought at Sam’s Club.  They actually died before I could come up with exotic names for them…

“Hello, Emma,” I whispered to my sleeping cat.

She looked up from her favorite resting spot…the top of my bed pillow…and smiled.

“Are you going to have your customary glass of red wine tonight, Tobey?” she asked.

Do you think its odd to talk for your  pet?  Or to your pet?  Move into an apartment building that has a lot of senior citizen tenants with pets.  It’s not odd.  Normal.  Very normal.

Besides…if someone asks you a question, it would be rude not to answer…

I turned on my bathroom night-light and politely answered my cat’s question.

“Not tonight dearest, exhausted.”

I was only able to read for about ten minutes which really ticked me off since this book was so exciting.  But my eyes were starting to close so I put the book on my night stand, turned off the floor lamp by my bed and cursed because I had forgotten to turn off the hall light.

I dragged myself out of bed and padded down the hall, hit the switch off and cursed again since I was now in total darkness…having forgotten to turn my living room night-light on.  I flipped that light on and trundled down the hall.

I apologized to God for being so tired as I said my nightly prayers.

“Dear God.  I’m sorry.  Than you.  Help everyone.  Amen.”

I put my head down on the pillow and rolled over on my right side…then rolled to my left side…almost unconscious at this point… but then…I rolled back to my right side…AND THEN…

..here we go…

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 19

Here is a snap of my brain at work.  I am following my guardian angel down my apartment hallway to my bedroom where I will get into my bed with my now ‘not so normal’ cat, Emma, and I will fall asleep and said guardian angel, now named Fred, will watch over me until I wake up tomorrow morning…OMG!!!!

AND…he will continue to watch over me for the rest of my entire life.

AND…I will see him in action and no one else will.

AND…if I tell anyone, they will either lock me up…or send me somewhere with…you know…padded walls and people who always smile at you.

AND…FRED WILL BE THERE WITH ME!!!  WATCHING.  OVER.  ME…….FOR FUCKING EVER!!!!

And yet…and yet…I feel strangely peaceful and calm as I begin my normal sleep ritual.

First lying on my right side and then turning over to my left side where I fall asleep instantly…as I have done for 24 years.

“Tobey!!!  Wake up!!!  The fire alarm is going to go off in a couple of minutes.  You have to leave now.”

Chapter 20

My eyes flew open and I could hear Fred talking to me.  What did he mean?  The room wasn’t even smoky and there was no alarm…

      BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

Oh…there it was.  Gosh that’s loud.  I’m always shocked how loud the alarm is.

Now there was enough smoke so I could smell it.  I shrugged on my slippers as I walked after Fred down my hallway and out the door into the apartment hall.  No one else was out there.

“This way,” said Fred.  He was leading me toward a foggy light at the end of the hall.  WTF…had I really died?  Was this the “light” that everyone keeps talking about when they die?

No, no of course not, I told myself.  It’s just the apartment emergency light.  WAKE UP TOBEY!!! I shouted to myself and shook my head and blinked my eyes.  There was a lot more smoke now.

Then I pulled back…

“Wait.  Where is Emma?  Do you have her?”  I hollered ahead to Fred.  Now I couldn’t see him very well.  The alarm was so much louder in the hallway, I could hardly hear my own voice.

“She’ll be fine, Tobey.  You have to leave now.”  His touch was more insistent but he wasn’t grabbing me.

“No!  I can’t leave Emma.  I’m going back Fred!”

I turned away and felt his touch on my arm disappear and I slowly made my way back down the now smoke-filled hallway until the red  from the EXIT sign showed I was at my door.  It hadn’t locked when I had closed it.

“Thanks God!!” I said out loud.

I pushed the door open and quickly closed it, making sure that Emma had not run out into the hall.

I knew where that little squirt would be…under my bed…where she always went when that dratted alarm went off.

The smoke was getting thicker.  I ran into my room coughing.  I shut the door in case Emma tried to slip out.

I clapped for my light to go on.  It did.  But then all the lights went out!

 

Epilogue:

Remember at the beginning…when I said this story was partly true?  Well…here is the true part.

One night about 12 years ago, I did wake up unexpectedly and as I was rolling over I saw a “black ribbon, shimmering in the corner.”

I looked at it for a few seconds and then closed my eyes and went back to sleep.  I had absolutely no fear and I recall smiling as I drifted away.  I knew I had seen something special.

When I woke up the next morning I realized I had accidentally seen one of my guardian angels.

Guardian angels are always around us…but we do not see them as a rule.  But occasionally it does happen.  Google it.

The rest of the story…just fun.  I hope you enjoyed it.

The “Real” End.