Debbie's arrival, introduction to many friends, and first dinner had all been rousing successes. The next day or two flew by and I no longer recall the exact sequence of events.
I believe I took her to Woodfield Mall, at the time the largest shopping mall in the country. I know we had dinner Saturday night with Jeff and Cassie, another dinner complemented by laughter and fun conversation. But I think the thing she was most hooked on was my PC, a 286 I think - this was 1988. I think she had never been exposed to one and I know that she had never owned one. Separately and together we played a few games on it, and when I awoke the next morning I heard her in the next room, pounding away at the keyboard.
We had a lot of fun, and as her departure time approached we decided that she should stay for several more days. I took a couple of days of vacation from work, and before we knew it we had decided she should stay, period. Now she and various parts of her family lived in Eastern Massachusetts, and some of mine lived there and in southeastern New Hampshire, so we decided that on Christmas we would fly out, visit the various family members together, load up her car, and drive back to Illinois in that.
I can't believe how hazy my memory is about this, but I believe she flew home for a day to get clothing and other items, and to work out various logistical things - paying her rent, tuition for her daughter's school, etc.
It all worked, and it all worked well. The toughest part was scheduling our Christmas visits. She had, I think, four different family households to visit and I had three. On my father's side it was customary to have Christmas dinner at my sister's house, with people arriving food in hand, typically surrounded by children. We agreed that on Christmas day we would do that and also visit whichever of her family members was hosting their Christmas dinner. Other than that, I needed only to visit my mother and my brother Billy, and he would be staying with her.
Debbie and I worked out a rough schedule, and I called Billy. I noted that Debbie was listening intently throughout the conversation. I explained to Billy that Debbie and I planned to be with Dad and that side of the family (Billy would be there too) on Christmas Day, and listed several time slots that we could be at Mom's for a visit so that he could pick the one that would be best for them. He picked Christmas Eve, and it was a done deal. We would also see them on our last day in New England, on the way out the door, so to speak.
When I hung up the phone, Debbie said "So that's how you do it." This was by way of introducing me to the fact that every year for many years she had spent the Christmas season agonizing over how to see everyone, how to fit everyone in with all the scheduling conflicts and with people pulling her this way and that. It had never occurred to her to tell people "This is when I can see you," and the idea appealed to her so much that she put it into practice immediately, scheduling our dates with her family (and one couple, old friends).
We flew into Boston and were picked up by her daughter, the budding RN, who was a perfect bitch kitty during the one hour drive home and for the next several days. She didn't know me, was worried about her mother and this stranger, and probably resented my "taking her away." But she did thaw out toward the end of the trip, and we became friends, as did her boyfriend and I. They later visited us for several days when we lived in Maryland, and it was a lot of fun.
There are going to be more Debbie posts, but I think it's time for a break, and a look at another subject or two. I'll wrap this one up by mentioning that my father began referring to Debbie as "my future daughter-in-law," and I began the practice of telling friends "She won't go home."