“You have to go, I know—but I worry about you out there in such bad weather.” Ma’s plump face reflected her concern. “The temperature keeps dropping. Did you remember to put on your long-johns?” she asked. She peered at him over the rim of her glasses.
“Yep, I did. That must be what’s making this belt so tight. Or could I have gained a few pounds on your good cooking?”
“Now don’t try to change the subject by flattering me,” Ma said. “I just wish someone else could fill in for you.” She kept her knitting needles flying as she rocked furiously in her chair.
“How many times have you seen me off for one of these trips?” he asked as he laced up his boots. “And now I have GPS to help me and my smart phone to keep you posted. Before you know it, I’ll be back here with you, sitting in front of the fire, and telling you all about my trip.” He walked over to his wife, bent over, and kissed her on her cheek. “I’ll be ready for a hot toddy or two. We still have some of that good Irish whiskey in the pantry, haven’t we?”
“As far as I know—unless you’ve been stealing a sip here and there while you’ve been getting everything together for the flight. Do you have your list?”
“Of course I do. And my charge card if I need to pick up something—and my passport for the security checkpoints.”
“I still think you’re getting too old for this kind of travel. You don’t admit it, but you don’t remember things like you used to.” She paused and looked into his watery blue eyes. “I hope you’ll think of this as your last trip.”
“Ma, too many depend on me. He turned his eyes away from her steady gaze. “I can’t even think about quitting. He pulled on his gloves and said, “I’ll be back soon.” With that he was out the door.
She stopped rocking and waited. In a few moments she heard her husband’s whistle and then his voice calling, “Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer, now Vixen….”
She sighed and thought, I guess I’ll never get him to retire. Soon her clicking needles were keeping time with the crackling of the fire.