My dad and godfather, Mike, at a Spanish Coffee making contest. And yes, that’s me using a garter as a headband.
My parents were both bartenders when I was growing up. I think my mom ended up in the job because all she wanted to do out of college was party, but my Dad was born to be a bartender. He loves people, he’s loud, and he’s not afraid to jump onto the bar top and sing “Happy Birthday” at an embarrassing volume, through a stolen megaphone. When I was younger, he was famous for this, and actually mentioned, mockingly (or perhaps I should say jealously), in the menu of competing restaurants.
So when I was a little kid, and people told me, “You know, your dad is the best bartender in Eugene,” I not only believed them, I took it for granted. (To the right: I bar-backed for my dad at a private party when I was fifteen years old.)
I think I was twelve or so when Dad started studying for his real estate license. To this day, I have no idea why he chose real estate as a second career, but after a year or two, he started working a second job as a realtor during the day, while continuing to bartend at night. He kept working two jobs all through my years in high school, and then through college. He only retired from bartending a handful of years ago, and then he threw all of his considerable energy into real estate, and he seemed as meant for that as he had been for bartending. He probably works more hours of the day then most people who get paid overtime, but he likes houses, and more than that, he likes helping people find homes they love, so it doesn’t seem like he’s working all that hard most of the time, just that he’s busy doing something he enjoys.
So when people told me, “You know, your dad is the best realtor in Eugene,” I kinda thought, well Duh.
I guess he probably wasn’t, (Though, in his day, he obviously really WAS the best bartender, again, Duh.) this is just something people who liked my dad said to be nice. Especially while he was still bartending and they were sitting at the bar after a few drinks.
Well, until a couple weeks ago anyway.
Dad was named Eugene Realtor of the Year for 2011. Apparently this is a pretty big deal, especially in his Remax office, where they’ve been trying to oust the returning champion (from a different company) for several years. Dad’s boss Kevin, knowing Dad was in the running, kept bugging a friend Judy (who had an in with the committee that selected the winner) to find out who won, finally stating: “If I knew Colin (my dad) won, I’d fly his daughter and grandson out as a surprise.”
Judy called his bluff.
So, Ender and I found ourselves hiding in plain sight at the Eugene Hilton, (above: Ender trying to blend in) waiting to show up when Dad got the award.
Dad had called me on the way to the banquet, just to chat, and told me he had to go when he got there. I was nursing in the hotel at the time, and told Dad to call me back later if he felt like it, since I didn’t really have much of anything going on beyond taking care of Ender.
At first, Dad probably had a hunch that he might win this year, but Mom managed to throw him off course, because Dad knew that they always have the spouses at the awards banquet.
Dad asked her if they’d called to invite her, and she said no, so Dad knew he hadn’t won this year.
Ender and I were hiding in the hall, so I didn’t get to hear them making fun of him, or surprising him with the award, but I heard the very end when they asked if he could think of anything that would make the moment any better.
I think they’d hinted that I was here, because he was already both stunned and confused, and didn’t manage to answer before they brought me out.
He was pretty taken aback. He handed Ender back after a minute or two, saying he didn’t want to break him. I think he was pretty shaky, and a little afraid of dropping him.
In a way, Mom and I were just as surprised since we’d only known about the whole plan for about a week: it was all very last minute, and the excitement was still high, with no time for the secret to get unbearable.
When I first heard what they were planning, I didn’t think I’d be able to take them up on it. For one thing, I’d sworn before Ender was born that I’d never fly with him by myself, especially as a lap ticket.
Faced with the opportunity to eat my words, it almost didn’t occur to me that the trip was even an option. I was exhausted from a previous weekend of travel (Matt and I drove Ender to PA to meet family there) and barely recovering from mastitis, which makes nursing not only painful, but exhausting and more difficult than usual.
Then I reconsidered, realizing that the discomfort would be more than worth it. Flying cross country with an infant was a pain in the ass, but it was amazing to have the chance to introduce Ender to my parents a month early (they’re coming out to visit at the end of August).
The only real option was to get equipment in Eugene. I looked up baby gear rental companies, but although I found a couple in Portland, and one in Bend, I didn’t see any options for Eugene. Which is weird, because Eugene is definitely bigger than Eugene, but Bend is more of a tourist destination, so maybe rental equipment is more in demand, and therefore more available.
Borrowing would have been a possibility if Mom knew of anyone who had children that had just outgrown the equipment needed, but she didn’t. In the end, Mom ended up buying a carseat and play-yard (with bassinet). I went online and found a convertible carseat that he’ll be able to use when we visit in about a year as well, so it will be a little less useless. I don’t love the carseat, but that’s a different story and it was safe and worked for the time I was there.
I was out from Wednesday to Monday. 5 days seemed just long enough to make it worth it, and I didn’t want to stay longer, because I didn’t want to be away from Matt for any longer. Or to take Ender away from Matt for longer. Though I have to admit, a small part of me hated him just a little, for getting 5 whole nights of uninterrupted sleep.
My mom calls him “baby boy!” in exactly the same tone as I do. Dad kept saying how beautiful Ender is, and is having as hard a time calling himself “Gramps” as I am trying to remember to hand Ender over to “G-ma” and “Gramps” instead of “Mom” and “Dad.” Whenever we went somewhere that my parents had friends, they hardly let me hold him they were so busy showing him off.
I talked my parents into waiting until late August to come out and visit, because it’s not likely that they’ll be out more than once a year or so, and I thought they would rather have some time to interact with a three month old (who’s old enough to interact back) than spend the whole time looking at a just born baby. Dad likes babies but my mom always claims to be not very into babies, at least, not newborns. I knew it would be different with her grandchild (as I assume it was different with me as a baby), but I was surprised at how dreamy-in-babyland she was. She was content to hold him, pacing to get him to sleep, for my whole visit.
As with our visit to PA, and the visits by Ender’s Cinci grandma, the thing I’m most struck by is how Ender is surrounded by people who love him. I’m so grateful that I had a chance to bring him to Oregon while he was new, and that my parents will get to see him again in just a few weeks. I wonder if I was ever really aware of how far away my family was before I had a baby.