Brandon and I were among the first ones up on New Year’s Day, along with Dad, Pop, and Brandon’s parents. Brandon and Dad made breakfast for the rest of us, and we had just begun eating when Dion, Trey, Pat, and Tori came out of their bedrooms and joined us.
“I’ll fix your breakfast as soon as I finish mine,” Dad told them.
“No, that’s ok,” Trey responded. “Dion and I will take care of that. Pat and Tori what would you like for breakfast?”
As soon as Trey began fixing their meals, Pat and Tori took a seat at the dining room table and chatted with the rest of us while they waited for their food. “I had a great time last night,” Tori stated, “and I think Pat has a really wonderful family.”
“Thank you and we like you too,” Dad countered. “I’m also glad that Pat found someone as nice as you.”
We’d actually finished our breakfast before the boys started waking up and Dad and Pop fixed their meals as they sporadically sauntered down to join us. While they were doing that, the rest of us went into the living room to watch the New Year’s Day parade.
“I love watching the Rose Parade,” Tori stated during a commercial break. “The floats are simply amazing.”
“They are,” Pat agreed, “especially seeing they’re mostly made up of flowers.”
As soon as the parade ended, some of the men and boys moved to the family room so they could watch the first of the college bowl games. While they were doing that, the others found something else to watch on the TV in the living room. A couple of hours later, after the football game ended, Pat and Tori announced they had to leave, since they had a long drive back to Pittsburgh.
“I’m really glad I got to meet all of you and I had a wonderful time,” Tori said as she prepared to head out to the car.
“We enjoyed meeting you too,” Pop stated for all of us, so we merely nodded in agreement.
“And I’ll see you all again, but I’m not exactly sure when,” Pat added.
“We understand. Just keep us posted about your plans,” Dad stated in return. “And please call me later so I know you got home safely.”
“Just like when we were younger,” Pat quipped. “We still have to call home once we reached our destination to let you know we didn’t get in an accident on the way there.”
“That’s because you’ll always be my son and I’ll never stop worrying about you, so get used to it,” Dad playfully countered.
“I know, and it’s just another way you let us know how much you love us.”
“You’ve got that right,” Dad agreed.
After they left, the rest of us did our own thing, which meant some of us watched another football game, while others enjoyed a movie or played games in the rec room. There were a few who didn’t get to do any of those things, because they were busy preparing the next meal. Following dinner we went back to doing those other things, although a few of us started getting ready for the week ahead instead, because it was going to be another busy one.
Pop, Brandon, and I had to work the following day, but the lucky ones would have a little more time to relax and enjoy themselves. Dion, Trey, and the boys had one more day off before school started again, and Elliot wouldn’t be returning to college for another week. On the other hand, Patrick and Brenda would be busy spending a few more hours with their grandsons before packing for their return flight home on Wednesday.
Even though Brandon and I would be returning to work on Tuesday, we’d asked our staffs to keep our appointment schedules open for the first hour on Wednesday. We did this so we would have time to take Tristan to the elementary school and enroll him, because we had to do it in person.
Dad and Elliot would be the only ones at home during the day for most of the week, but that would end on Thursday when the medium came to the house so he could get rid of Hubbard and Abernathy. Dad said the man told him that he’d be there early, but none of us were exactly sure how long the process was going to take. The good thing was that Graham’s prediction of no further incidents occurring in the interim had come true. This led us to conclude that the spirits of our loved ones had either stuck around in order to keep Hubbard and Abernathy in check, or those two had already grown frustrated and left on their own. If that was the case, then the medium would merely have to prevent them from returning later. However, if they hadn’t left yet, the medium would surely have a battle on his hands when he attempted to expel them.
When it came time to go to bed, we said goodnight to the rest of the family before tucking the boys in, and then Brandon and I headed to our bedroom as well. We wanted to be well rested for the next day, since we knew it was going to be a busy one.
The next morning we had breakfast with Dad, Pop, and Brandon’s parents before we left for the health center, while Dion, Trey, and the boys slept in. Before we left we told the others to have a good day, and they wished us the same as we headed out to the car.
As I suspected, my waiting room was packed the entire time I was there. A large number of parents had made appointments for their offspring to get shots and checkups today, seeing they knew their kids wouldn’t have to go to school. In addition to that group, there was a large influx of sick kids as well, and throughout the day I treated various individuals for colds, sinus or ear infections, and a couple cases of the flu.
Brandon told me later that he had a lot of appointments scheduled as well, along with a few emergency cases that had called in, so we ended up cutting our lunch hour short. We only took enough time to put a little something in our stomachs to prevent them from growling as we were treating our patients.
We were both exhausted when we arrived home that evening, but there was still quite a bit left to do in order to be ready for the next day. While Brandon was making sure the boys had something to wear to school, I made a quick phone call.
“Hi Aunt Sally. Do you know if Tristan’s school records made it to the elementary school?”
“Yes, I checked with the office before the school let out for Christmas break and his records were already there.”
“Great. I just wanted to make sure, because having them will make the enrollment process go a lot smoother tomorrow. Thanks for taking care of that.”
“Anything I can do to help, since you guys do so much for me.”
After we said goodbye, I went to find Dad. “Is there anything that you need us to do in order to help you get ready for your meeting with the medium on Thursday?”
“No, I’m all set. I asked the medium the same question and he told me that he’d bring everything he’d require, although we might have to get more of those same items later, if this doesn’t have an immediate effect.”
“Ok, but just let us know if you need anything, seeing Elliot, Brandon, and I seem to be the main focus of Hubbard and Abernathy’s attacks and antics.”
“I noticed that as well, and I’ll let you know if I require your help with anything.”
A short time later as we were sitting down to eat; I decided to mention a few things to the others. “Dion and Trey, don’t forget that you’ll be taking the SUV in the morning. I’m not sure how much gas is in the tank, seeing others have been using it lately, so after I’m done eating I’ll drive to the gas station and fill it up for you.”
“No, we’ll take care of that,” Dion replied. “Since you’re letting us use it, the least we can do is pay for the gas and take care of the oil changes.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, we insist,” Trey confirmed.
“Tristan, you’ll be riding with Brandon and me tomorrow, because we’ll have to enroll you. We’ll be leaving before everyone else because we’ll have to go to work once we’re done, so we want to get to the school before the buses arrive and the confusion starts.”
“Ok. I’ll take my shower tonight and then get dressed before I come down for breakfast in the mornin’. That way all I’ll have to do is put on my coat and hat to go with you.”
“That sounds like a plan.”
“While we’re at it,” Brandon interjected, “I want to get with each of you boys after we’re done here so I can find out what clothes you plan on wearing for the next three days. That way I can make sure they’re clean, because we fell a little behind on doing the laundry over the holiday. If I have to, I can do a load or two later if you need anything in particular before the weekend.”
The boys agreed to do this for him and went to check their closets and dressers. Although Elliot hadn’t been included in this discussion, he had something he wanted to say as well.
“I told Grandpa Josh that I wanted to help when the medium came here on Thursday, but I’ve got enough clean clothes left to choose from. I’ll have to do some laundry over the weekend, though, so everything will be clean before I head back to campus next week.”
“I can help you with that,” Brandon agreed, “and I’m glad you reminded me about it. Seeing you’ve been away since August, I sometimes forget that you might need my help too.”
“I probably could do it by myself, but I’d appreciate any help you want to give me.”
“I’d be happy to do that,” Brandon agreed, and then he turned his attention to his parents. “So what time are you two planning to leave tomorrow?”
“Our flight isn’t until 4:00, so we won’t have to leave too early,” his dad answered. “We’ll probably take off sometime before lunch and then stop to eat along the way to break up the long drive to the airport.”
“Ok, then I’ll spend some time with you later, after I take care of the boys.”
“That would be nice,” Brenda concurred, “because we probably won’t be seeing you again until next Christmas. I’m sure your father has already put in his request to take some vacation time then, because that way we get to celebrate both Christmas and the New Year with you and our grandsons.”
“You don’t have to explain,” I stated. “We understand it’s a long trip and not easy for you to get here, and I’m sure we’ll be in touch in the meantime.”
“Yes, we’ll call every other weekend, as well as contacting each of you on your birthday,” she agreed. “And I want you to know that we’ve really enjoyed spending time with you and our grandsons over the past few days.”
“Yes, we certainly have,” Patrick chimed in, “but I’m going to sign up for a fitness class in August or September so I’ll be ready for these boys when we get together again. I’m hoping if I do that it will make it a little easier for me to keep up with them while we’re here.”
The rest of us chuckled after he said this, since we understood what he was talking about. He had looked more than a little frazzled at times because the boys didn’t cut him any slack. It’s not that they were being mean or doing it intentionally, but they’re just instinctively competitive, no matter who they’re up against.
The next hour was a flurry of activity as we got everything done, and then we all sat down with Brenda and Patrick to watch TV for a while before we turned in. Once again they joined us as we tucked the boys in and said goodnight, because it might be the last time they got to see them before they left. Since they had such a long day ahead of them, we weren’t sure if they’d be getting up before the rest of us left in the morning.
I was a little surprised when Brenda and Patrick emerged from their bedroom as we were eating breakfast. They said they’d set their alarm so they could say goodbye to all of us before we headed out, but Dad told me later that they went back to sleep for a couple more hours after we left.
When Brandon, Tristan, and I got to the elementary school, we went directly to the office to check in. “Don’t tell me we have a new member of the Currie clan?” the secretary joked.
“Yes, we do,” I confirmed. “I was told you’re already in possession of his records as well.”
“Then this must be Tristan Schneider,” she responded. “Sally Swarthout called before Christmas to make sure those documents had arrived.”
“Yes, Aunt Sally takes good care of us,” I agreed.
We then filled out the necessary paperwork, and when we finished Brandon asked a question. “Do you know which classroom he’ll be in?”
“Yes, his teacher will be Mrs. Argentine.”
Brandon and I breathed a sigh of relief because she was the same teacher Benny had when he first arrived. She was a great educator and knew our family well, so we were confident she would take good care of Tristan.
“Would you like us to take him to her classroom?” Brandon followed.
“I’ll have to call her room first and see if that’s ok,” she countered.
“We’ll take our time getting him there, because we want to show him around a bit, so he’s familiar with the school,” Brandon informed her.
“In that case, I’m sure it will be fine,” she confirmed.
“Thanks for all of your help,” I added. “You always make this process very easy for us.”
“That’s because I’ve done it so many times, first with your dad and now with the two of you.”
“Yes, I guess our family has had more than its share of late entrants into the school system,” I conceded.
After we showed Tristan around so he knew where the cafeteria, the gymnasium, and the boy’s rooms were located, we led him to his classroom. We knocked on the door first, and Mrs. Argentine waved us in.
“I’ve been expecting you, because the secretary said you were on the way,” she stated after greeting us.
“Yes, we wanted to show Tristan around first and help familiarize him with the school,” I explained. “Tristan, this is Mrs. Argentine. She’ll be your teacher and this is her classroom. Benny and Joshie had her when they were in fourth grade too.”
“Really? They had the same teacher?” Tristan gasped.
“They certainly did,” Mrs. Argentine concurred, “and I’m sure we’ll get along just as well as I did with them.”
That little piece of information quickly helped to put Tristan at ease, but we stuck around for a little while longer as she showed him which desk was his and explained a few other items. When the rest of the students started entering the classroom, Brandon and I said goodbye to Tristan and Mrs. Argentine, and then we went back to the main office. There was something else I wanted to do before I left.
“Do you know which building Mrs. Kurtsman will be working in today?” I asked the secretary. Mrs. Kurtsman was the school psychologist and I’d worked with her before concerning one of my patients.
“It just happens that she’s working here today. She just checked in and is currently in the nurse’s office. That’s where she works when she’s here, since we don’t have a full-time nurse.”
“Do you think it would be possible for us to speak with her?”
“Let me call and check.” She made a quick phone call and then spoke to us again. “She said she’d be happy to meet with you and asked me to direct you there. After you go into the hallway, just turn left and it’s the next doorway on the left.”
“Thank you,” I said as Brandon and I headed there.
After entering the nurse’s office, I said hello to Mrs. Kurtsman and introduced her to Brandon. Then I filled her in about Tristan’s situation. “He had a rough time in the beginning, but he seems to be doing better now, but we’re concerned that he hasn’t fully dealt with the issue of losing his parents. Would you be willing to meet with him and discuss the situation with him?”
“Of course. Since he’s a new student, I’ll request to meet with him today, and then I’ll schedule an appointment with him once a week until I feel he has dealt with the issue and no longer needs my help.”
“Thank you very much for doing this for us. It will be a great help.”
After we said goodbye to her, Brandon and I headed out to the car and drove to work.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Brandon stated before we reached the health center.
“I agree. She’s a fine teacher and I’m sure Tristan will like her.”
“And I hope he gets along with the other students too,” Brandon shot back.
“I’m sure he will. He’s better off than Benny was when he was in her class, and I’m positive she’ll help him handle any problems that arise.”
Our workday wasn’t quite as hectic as the previous one, but I treated quite a few more sick kids over the course of the day. Their problems were basically the same as the day before, but there were also a few routine checkups as well, but those were mostly for kids too young to attend school. When I met up with Brandon for lunch, he told me about his morning and said he’d mostly dealt with high school and college kids so far. He said the college kids, who he’d been treating for many years, were there to get their teeth cleaned or various problems taken care of before they returned to campus. The high school kids, on the other hand, were trying to squeeze in a visit before they had to buckle down with their schoolwork. Seeing it was more or less a typical workday, neither of us were as tired when we got home, which was a good thing.
When we saw Tristan, we asked him how his first day went. “It was good. I like Mrs. Argentine and I made some friends. I told Benny and Joshie that I had the same teacher as them when they were my age, and they told me she was really nice.”
“I’m glad the day went well for you,” Brandon said with a smile.
“Did you have any problems like getting lost?” I followed.
“Nope, cuz I had to do most things with the rest of my class, ‘cept when I had to pee.”
“Well I’m glad everything went well.”
Brandon and I then went to change, and when we finished Brandon went to help Trey with dinner. I chose to go speak with Dion and see how things went with the SUV.
“It was great and the boys are a lot more comfortable than they were being squeezed into our car. I just had to get used to driving a much larger vehicle. Oh, and we stopped to fill up the gas tank on the way home, so that’s taken care of too.”
“I’m glad we thought about letting you use it.”
While we were eating dinner, I asked the boys another question. “Do any of you have homework?”
“I have a little,” Noah replied.
“I do too,” Ryan agreed.
“We did ours already,” Joshie answered for Benny and Tristan as well. “We did it before you guys got home.”
“And I don’t got none,” Wyatt chimed in.
“You don’t HAVE ANY,” Trey corrected him. Wyatt merely shrugged in response and nodded to let his English teacher father that he understood but was mildly irked about being corrected in front of the others.
“I’m glad you younger boys are all set,” I responded, “and I want you two to get your assignments done right after you finish eating.”
“Yeah, we know,” Ryan replied as Noah nodded that he understood as well.
Brandon and I checked the boys’ assignments later, and spent some time chatting with them about various other topics as well. We also watched a couple of TV programs with them before sending them upstairs to shower and get ready for bed. When they’d had sufficient time to do those things, we went up to say goodnight and tuck them in.
In the morning I asked Dad a question before we left for work. “Do you want me to call you at noon to see how things are going with the medium?”
“You can if you want, but it really isn’t necessary. I can fill both of you in when you get home later.”
“Ok, but call and leave a message if there are any problems or if you need us to pick anything up on the way home.”
“Ok, but I’m sure we’ve got enough drivers and cars available if I need anything, seeing Elliot is still here and Dion and Trey will be home before you.”
“Yes, I guess I forgot he was going to be with you and could help out too. In that case, we’ll merely check with you when we get home to see how everything went.”
Brandon and I talked about this briefly on the way to work, and for the most part we were merely looking forward to Hubbard and Abernathy being gone, so there would be nothing more to worry about.