LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

Two and a half weeks have passed and our whole world has been shaken to the core. Everyone knows what happened on September 11, 2001. Close to 7,000 people killed by radical terrorists. And now, on the brink of war against Osama Bin Laden, the ruling medieval regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and perhaps others; perhaps even Saddam Hussein.

Our weekend (plus Monday and Tuesday morning on the day of the attacks) with Darryl was a demanding series of highs and lows; despair and hope.

For the remainder of his time with us, no one drank anything alcoholic, and no near beer, either. Gallons of water, iced tea, some milk, orange juice and coffee. I don’t even remember what I fixed for dinner Saturday, but he did eat a little bit. On Sunday morning, the 9th, he shredded almost a whole carton of cigarettes, vowing “this is it — never again.” We all shared a waffles and berries breakfast, and then I showered and dressed and went off to play piano for the Beaverdam Methodist Church.

Buck took Darryl to the next level — kicked it up a notch — and when I got back from church, they were lifting weights. After a sandwich, they walked to the church and back. I was on the treadmill when they returned.

Darryl ate a good supper and actually got a decent night’s sleep. Monday we went to Asheville first thing for Buck’s dentist appointment. Darryl and I had a good talk, much of it about religion, especially the concept of the Holy Spirit.

That afternoon, he lifted a few weights, talked to his Mom, ate a good supper of salmon patties, called his brother and sister, and got another full night’s sleep. From a high of about 156/96, Darryl’s blood pressure gradually declined until, by Tuesday morning, it was back into a normal range. His pulse on Saturday was 126. His color was much better and quite a bit of the swelling had gone out of his face. He had talked to his former boss and had an appointment set to talk with him about getting his old job back. He had washed his sheets and all of his clothes, and his voice was regaining some of its timbre.

He seemed anxious, but determined and hopeful. I sent him off with half a freshly made meatloaf, ziplock bags of carrots and celery, and two salmon patty sandwiches, plus a small stained glass angel to hang on his truck mirror as a guardian angel. Buck wrote a touching, eloquent letter to give to Darryl’s former boss. It brought a torrent of tears from Darryl.

WE WERE EXHAUSTED. Clinging to each other, Buck and I slowly walked back into the house to rest and enjoy spending the day together.

It was shortly after 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

I absent-mindedly punched on the kitchen TV to provide a little background noise while I cleaned up the kitchen. I don’t know what I thought. This must be some weird movie. It can’t be real. What? What? Oh, Buck, no, no, oh my God, no.”

We turned on the big screen TV in the living room and didn’t move for hours. Barely moved for days.

D. called us that night to let us know he had gotten back to Evansville. This routine continued for a couple of days. He got his job back, with some conditions: a $2 an hour pay cut for the first thirty days; and then incremental increases based on performance and steadfastness. D. agreed he was lucky to have his job back at all, but complained bitterly about the pay cut and said his boss had him digging ditches. That conversation took place on September 18.

He gave us various reports on positive meetings with his lawyer and soon-to-be ex-wife. His first day of work was Monday, the 17th. He was scheduled for a physical examination on Tuesday or Wednesday the same week.

When we didn’t hear from him that night, Buck called. D. said he overslept and didn’t make it to the doctor appointment, but had rescheduled it for the next morning and would fax the blood work to us. He didn’t go to work that day, either.

 

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