Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Is The Sky Red Where You Are?

It is July. I can hardly believe that 2005 is now half over. How in the world did that happen? Of course, I always feel this way when I start to think about how fast time flies. In fact, it seems like just yesterday that we told Grandma Bina that I was pregnant. This will take awhile, but it's worth the read. Every word is true, I promise.

You will need three important pieces of information first to truly understand this story:

1. My mom is the original blond girl... She doesn't celebrate blond moments any more, but she does have more than her fair share of "senior moments". She is well known for being a lot like Edith Bunker. Lovable and somewhat ditzy.
2. I didn't meet Champs until I was 32. I am the youngest of my mom's 4 children and even though she already had 4 grandchildren, she wanted them from me, too. In fact, the first thing she said to us when we got out of the sanctuary after the wedding was "when do I get grandbabies?" We told her to let us enjoy our wedding dance and then we would worry about procreation.
3. My father was still alive at the time of this story, which takes place in 1999. He died of lung cancer in 2003, but played a small but important (and pretty darn funny, too) role in this narrative.

On a Friday morning in mid January of 1999, I realized that after 2 1/2 months of marriage Champs and I were going to be parents. I waited all day for Champs to come home so I could share the news with him. It took until about 8:00 that night before he knew everything and we could begin calling the family. Of course, my mother had to be first on the call list, so I called over to her home. Dad answered. "Hi Dad, can I talk to Mom?" Dad gave a little grunt (he grunted to mean just about anything from "whatever" to "oh my word, that's exciting!") and told me she wasn't home and would be gone until Sunday afternoon.

I hadn't realized she was going to be out, so I asked him where she was. He didn't know. "Dad", I asked, "what do you mean you don't know where she is? What if there is an emergency?" Dad calmly replied, "there won't be any emergency. She's not here. She is the emergency." Well, you can mess with logic like that, so I asked if he had any information at all. He knew she was somewhere in White Bear Lake for a church conference, so I went into detective mode.

After calling about 10 hotels, I found the one hosting the church conference and found the room of the friend my mom was staying with - success! I asked to leave a message and was patched through to voicemail. I asked Mom to call me, no matter how late. There was no emergency and nothing to worry about; I just wanted to talk to her.

Fast forward to midnight. The phone starts ringing and when I answer, Mom frantically asked " what's wrong?!?!" I assured her everything was fine and I had just wanted to talk to her. "Oh", she replied. "I just got a piece of paper that said "call your daughter no matter what". So much for the voicemail and the friendly hotel staff. After I got her calmed down, I got Champs to pick up and extension and we called Dad to get him on the line with Mom.

Once we were on the line, I explained that the reason I was calling so late is that I wanted to share some special news. "You're going to be grandparents again!" My dad, typically, grunted. I think there might have been an "oh, ok" in there too. My mom, who moments before was so fantastically frantic, said, "oh, that's nice honey. Is the sky red where you are?"


"Mom", I said, "your youngest child just told you she is pregnant. You've been waiting for this for years! What do you mean 'is the sky red'?" "Well", she replied, "the sky is just so red tonight. I've never seen anything like it at all!" Seeing that this conversation was a lost cause, Champs and I were soon off the phone and scratching our heads.

Unfortunately, 2 months later, we lost that baby. It was very sad and my parents (and everyone else) were very supportive. It took awhile but eventually we were ready to try again. The following October, we found out that I was pregnant again.

This time, I tested myself at 4:00 in the morning. I couldn't wait to tell Champs, so I woke him up. He was ecstatic! Out of courtesy we waited until 6:00 a.m. to call my mom. Champs got on one phone line and stood in the hall where he could see me on the bedroom phone. The phone rang and rang, and finally a muffled voice said, "mello?"

"Hi Mom!" I sing-songed (remember, I'd been up for 2 hours and was pretty pumped). "Is the sky red where you are?", I asked. She drew a deep breath and said, "I don't know. Hang on" and proceeded to drop the phone with a chunk! Champs and I looked at each other in wonder as we listened to her footsteps shuffle away and then shuffle back to the phone.

"No honey, the sky isn't red. It's black. It's night out", Mom explained, still clearly asleep. Barely containing my laughter, I decided to give her a hint. "No, Mom. I know the sky isn't red right now. Remember the last time we talked about this very same thing, all you could say was how red the sky was? Remember that?". "Ohhhh....", she said. Champs and I thought she might understand now. Then she showed us that she still wasn't quite tracking with us yet when she said, "I do remember. The sky was just so red! I've never seen the sky that red before!"

By this time, Champs and I were torn between astonishment, laughter, disbelief and a myriad of other reactions. I spoke very clearly; "no, Mom. Remember? The last time we spoke about THIS. VERY. SAME. SUBJECT.... You were more concerned about the sky than my news. Remember?"

Just as the sun broke over the horizon into our window, the light dawned on Mom. "Oooohhhh! A baby?" Champs busted out laughing. "ding ding ding ding ding! Tell her what she's won, Johnny!"

Well, Sweet Girl was the happy outcome of that pregnancy. We warned Mom that if we ever called and asked "is the sky red where you are?", she'd better know what we meant! Unfortunately, I'm having my tubes tied, so I guess we won't be asking that question again. But the memory and the story are just as sweet and funny each time we tell it.

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