The mission was to ride the ferry from Ft. Fisher to Southport. I had heard about it for years and years and, by heck, we were going to ride that ferry! My son was home for Memorial Day weekend and it was time for an adventure. A mild adventure to some, but thrilling for us. Me, anyway.
After a delicious lunch at the Carolina Ale House, we made our way down Carolina Beach Road towards Ft. Fisher. There was heavy traffic, but it could have been worse, considering it was a holiday weekend. We finally got to the ferry and the flashing sign said the next ride was full. We would have had to wait 1 1/2 hours to try to get on the following ride and decided it wasn't worth it and that we would come back in the off season. Can you tell how patient and adventurous we are? We drove to the end of the island and I told Ethan we needed to at least get out and walk around a bit as we were on hallowed ground. A major Civil War battle had taken place there. We walked to the end of a pier and the top of a mound and I tried my best to conjure up the smell of a fired cannon.
At about this time I mentioned to Ethan that I needed to use the restroom. It wasn't long before I repeated that I REALLY needed to use the restroom. We had seen signs that said "Something something STOP" except that we misread them and thought they said "...SHOP". Ethan was a valiant son and trudged two different directions in the hunt of a "shop" where his increasingly frantic mother could relieve herself. I finally noticed our mistake and told him there was no way I was going to make it down the strip to a public restroom. We walked back to the car and I opened the passenger side door and told him that he was to stand guard while I went pee pee. He was both horrified and mortified. "I really don't want to do this. This is really awkward and uncomfortable for me! What if someone sees you???" I told him that he did not have to look, just watch the road and make sure no one walked my way. Behind me was a large mound and I felt I was fairly safe as long as no one reached the top and decided to look my way. I finally relieved myself. And it was RELIEF. I cleaned myself up with napkins and hand sanitizer. Ethan was in disbelief, but I told him when you gotta go, you gotta go and I did not have the luxury of being able to go standing up behind a tree. I think he was truly afraid that I would get arrested for indecent exposure! This goes to prove that you can still scar your children when they are grown and on their own. I thought those days were gone forever and it's good to know I can still rattle the boy! When we arrived home, I Googled "Depends" to see what I could do to prevent this from happening again and that further jarred him. I think he associates Depends with eighty year old women and thought he had a long wait for that phase of my life! Awwwwwwwww...the joys of having a MOTHER OF A CERTAIN AGE!
Fast forward a few weeks and Ethan came home for Independence Day weekend. It was time for a fresh adventure away from home, but what to do? We just aren't lake or beach people and the older I get the less I want to be in the heat. We (read, I) decided that we would go to the Cape Fear Museum and the Riverfront in downtown Wilmington, topped off with dinner at Elijah's, one of Ethan's favorite restaurants. The museum was wonderful and brought back memories of the last time we were there with Ethan's father, Brian. We had time to kill so we walked along the riverfront and I hit some of the shops while Ethan dutifully waited for me. I went into a Christmas shop determined to get an ornament to commemorate the day and found a lovely iridescent fish. It reminded me of the "Rainbow Fish" from the book of the same name. I had read it to Ethan as a young boy. The price was right and the ornament would be mine. All of a sudden I was overcome with emotion. My almost-23-year-old-son was spending the day with me, his old mom. To be sure, there were things he would rather be doing and friends he would prefer to be with. I began weeping, the kind where large tears fall down your face and you know the first word you speak will unleash an even bigger torrent. I took the ornament to the counter and when the lady asked if she could help me, the words tumbled out and the tears streamed down. "Yes", I sobbed. "I want to buy this ornament because it looks like the Rainbow Fish and I used to read that book to my son when he was a young lad and now he is all grown up and he is almost 23 years old and he is spending the day with me and I love him more than anything. I can't believe he wants to spend the day with me. And we went to a museum that we went to when he was little and his dad was with us and his dad died last year and it is very sad and I love my son so much." During my diatribe, I find myself crying harder and louder and the only tissue I have is a long string of toilet paper that I procured along the way. I continue to pull more and more out of my purse until I know the kind lady was thinking I had an entire roll in there. (Which considering what had happened a few weeks earlier might not be a bad idea) I kinda sorta pulled myself together and went to see Ethan. He knew something was wrong and immediately said "What can I do? What do you need me to do?" I responded with "Nothing, I am fine. I am having a moment" Ethan: "I can see that" Me: "I am just so happy that you are spending the day with me and I got a Rainbow Fish ornament. Do you remember me reading that book to you when you were little? It was a such a good book. I know you would rather be somewhere else today, but you are here with me and I love you and I fell apart in that shop and I am sure the lady thinks I am a kookaburra" Ethan: "I'm sure she does, don't cry, I am having fun" I finally pulled myself together, repaired my makeup, and pronounced that I was presentable enough to go get dinner. I could see the relief on Ethan's face. He is accustomed to my occasional emotional outbursts, but never completely prepared for them.
I've said it before, but he really IS a wonderful son. We enjoyed a lovely, relaxing dinner on the riverfront. I wish we could do it more often, but thank God for the times we do get to spend together.
Because when all is said and done, family matters. More than anything.