“I’ll only be out for a few minutes”…
Famous Last Words.
Yesterday, I wrote about those other Famous Last Words: “I won’t bump into anyone I know.”
Looking like Bret Michaels on an early morning supermarket run came this close to another Famous Last Words incident from many, many years ago – the I’ll only be out for a few minutes one with my daughter Jane.
My little girl Janie (now 33 and expecting her first baby, a boy, in 6 weeks) woke up one winter morning with the hot, flushed face of a fever. She was maybe 2 or 3 years old. All she wanted was to snuggle, all bundled in her footed pajamas and buried in my lap.
I called in sick to work while Barry took over the morning rush of breakfast, lunch packing and school stuff for everyone else.
Janie didn’t want to move from my arms or even put her head up to talk about taking a children’s fever medication.
Once the house is quiet, I thought…
Once the house was quiet, I carried Janie to our medicine cabinet to get the medication. There wasn’t any. Up high, down low, behind or in-between. There was no children’s fever medication and Janie was getting sicker by the moment.
OK. Plan B.
There was a little milk store a couple of miles away. Just slip on some boots and my long, puffy winter coat over my pajamas and wrap Janie in her coat and hat over her little footed pajamas and get the medication ASAP.
I’ll only be out for a few minutes.
Sounded like a good plan.
But it was a cold morning. A frigid morning, right after a snowstorm. Janie wouldn’t let me put her down to run out to warm up the car, so I just ran to the car with her in my arms. I had a hard time starting the car in the cold, but finally got it going and we took off.
I sang to Janie all the way to the store to distract her from the heat of her fever and the cold of the car.
I drove into the snow-crunchy parking lot of the milk store, grabbed Janie in my arms… and left the car running to get the heat cranking.
Got the medication.
Ran back outside.
Car was locked.
Idling like a deliciously warm dream.
I had inadvertently, due to habit and just good common sense, locked the car doors when I left the car. What!? I ran back into the milk store and asked to use their phone to call AAA. This was a time of no cell phones. Nope. Not even on the horizon.
It was such a cold morning that AAA was backed up for a least an hour with automobile problems all around the region. The milk store manager suggested that I head across the parking lot to the automotive supply store. He thought someone may have one of those things that bust into locked cars.
Good to know that you can buy one of those things.
Anyway, I trudged across the crunchy, snowy parking lot with Janie in my arms and entered the automotive store. It was warm in there. Toasty, wonderfully warm. I explained my dilemma to the sales associate and the advice of the milk store manager. He was adamant that his store didn’t sell those things that break into cars and suggested that I call the fire department.
Maybe a fireman could figure a way to bust into my locked, idling car while my baby girl was getting sicker by the moment. I asked for a cup of water to give Janie the medication. Done. She clung to my neck as I held her tightly.
The man offered me a cup of coffee and could obviously sense how frantic I was becoming… and offered to call the fire department for me.
I must have looked like I was going to pass out with the heat of the store while wrapped in my long, puffy winter coat. He suggested that I sit down and take off my coat while he made the phone call for me.
My pajamas? Threadbare cotton top. My most comfortable sleeping shirt was threadbare. Bare, you might say. Like, I was naked.
Almost ditto on the pants.
No, I’ll just leave my coat on. Thank you.
I took off Janie’s coat and could see the medication working its fever magic while sweat poured from my forehead, my underarms, down my back and legs. Maybe that kids’ medication would work on my feverish mortification of sitting there with virtually nothing under my warm, puffy winter coat in, like, 900 degrees of automotive parts.
I graciously declined the coffee.
And more news. The fire department could help me. But they’d most likely bust a lock. And wouldn’t be there for at least a half hour.
Bring it on.
Should I just take off my coat and expose life and limb and everything else I’ve got to this poor automotive store guy… so I won’t pass out?
I sat there holding Jane in my arms.
I was downright soaking wet then the fireman arrived. It took him less than a minute to bust my lock, open my car door and get me on my way.
Thank you very much, kind fireman.
I began singing to Jane on our way home.
Then heard a gurgling noise.
And felt a gush of projectile vomit land on my stick shift.
I had to shift.
I kept singing as I grabbed the slippery shift and made it home. I carried Janie into the house, ripped off my coat, bathed Janie, got her all wrapped in new, clean pajamas… and tucked her into bed. When she was finally soundly sleeping, I headed back outside to my car to clean up the vomit.
It was already frozen onto the stick shift. Onto the carpet. Onto the upholstery.
I grabbed a bucket of warm water and soap from the house and began to clean. And scrub.
But the more I scrubbed, the more it melted.
And became alive with vomitous odors.
(Is vomitous a word?)
You know those few minutes?
But all’s well that ends well, because Janie woke up from her sleep with no fever and a hungry tummy.
My beautiful little girl…
I just wonder if that automotive sales guy is still wondering what was under my puffy winter coat.