The band played soft classic rock from the 70’s with the female lead singer sounding a lot like the recent American Idol runner up, Crystal Bowersox. Kids played tag and tossed a football on the grass just beyond the outdoor patio where people ate dinner and chatted casually with their friends and family. It was a relaxed Friday evening at Blakeney. The stresses of the day and the week had evaporated and were carried away by the rhythmical vocal waves of “Maggie May”. Good will and peace among men was in the air along with the laughter and happy screaming of little kids playing in the water fountain. My family and I (sans Shelby who was at a party) sat outside Salad Creations taking all of this in. Sandra ventured beyond her comfort zone and tried a tuna salad stuffed tomato; Keely stuck with the usual, a chicken wrap punctuated by a bottled Orange crush; Will had a Smuckers Crustable (what a Godly creation) and I enjoyed a small glimpse of Heaven with my salmon salad and Asian dressing…low carb, that is since I am a P90Xer. In fact, if we had the ocean and its salty breeze to our side, Heaven may be a bit like this scene. Oh, it was great…

Then, “Daddy, I need to go the bathroom,” my 4 year old son interjected. Okay, I put my fork down and off we went. I returned to my salad and it took a second, but I got back in the zone. About that very second, “Dennis, can you get me more Pepsi?” asks my lovely wife. “Sure, I’d be delighted.” Away I go. I return, still hopefully optimistic about the evening. My mind drifts to a beach trip just my wife and I took a couple of years ago. The memory fondly plays across my mind and bazinga! “Dad, can you go buy me a cookie?” Sure, why not? This is feeling a bit like a plyometrics workout. I return with this cookie about the diameter of a Frisbee and slowly decline into my seat waiting on another request before my bottom hits the chair. It makes a landing without interruption. I look around my table and everyone is almost finished with their food except me. It’s okay, I say to myself. Life is good. A little self pick me upper. The fork reaches my mouth with a big, succulent bite of salmon when Sandra asks, “Can you go get me some more napkins?” I get up again as the band begins to play “Witchy Woman”…hmmm. By now, you know the drill. I’m back at my table trying to finish my salmon salad before it swims away when I notice a nonverbal conversation between Sandra and my daughter, Keely. “What is it now?” I ask ever so sweetly. They debate over who’s going to ask me; who’s going to play interstate chicken. Keely loses and asks, “Can I have some ice cream?” Love is patient; love is kind pops into my head. So, we go to Cold Stone Creamery. At $4 a cone, she better love, love, love it. In case you P90Xers are wondering, no, I didn’t partake even though the Devil did make her choose chocolate to tempt me. Ten minutes later back at the table I finish the salad and sit back and relax, ready for the next mission. I knew it would be coming. Whose turn was it, I wondered? My calculations based on proven scientific theory estimated that it would be my 4 year old son, Will. Sure enough. “Dad, I want to play soccer. Can you go get our ball out of the car?”(parked about 40 miles away)

Then came the surprise ending…my lovely wife, Sandra, volunteered to lift this responsibility off my shoulder. What a good woman. This brief respite allowed me to reflect upon the fact that all of this is what I signed up for when I said I do and  we had kids. This is marriage. This is fatherhood. This is commitment…the Godly kind, not the clinical kind. This is a privilege, a blessing. One day the kids will be gone and Sandra and I will be on our front porch rockers with blankets over our legs and our teeth sitting on the side table lamenting, “Why don’t the kids ever call or come by and see us?” Most of all, this is brief. Enjoy it. Life is good…really.

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