I was running the vacuum when the doorbell rang.
“Didn’t you just vacuum this morning, or did I imagine that?” my husband asked.
It was true. After ten years, my son was coming to visit, and I wanted everything to be perfect.
It’s funny though. Had I paused to catch my breath, I would have seen the irony in cleaning for someone who frequently had pizza on his ceiling as a teenager.
My husband waited until I joined him at the door before opening it.
And then he was there. My little boy all grown up.
He smiled, and I rushed to embrace him… and couldn’t help noticing he felt too thin. It was that woman he married, brainwashing him into veganism. Bet she feeds him nothing but leaves and twigs. Hippie freak.
“Come in, you must be starving,” I exclaimed. “After your trip, I mean,” because I didn’t wish to start trouble.
While my husband hung his coat, my son just stood there, taking everything in. His smile faltered, and I quickly realized it was probably the army of dead animals scattered about the room.
“So, now you finally get to see your father’s work. The coyote is the newest addition,” I said, trying to dispel the awkwardness that threatened to rob me of my moment.
“Wow, you’ve been busy, Pops,” he replied. “These are… great.”
“Work in progress, I’d say. But thanks,” he answered, looking proudly at his… well, I guess they’re kind of like his children.
I could see the unease on my boy’s face, and it reminded me of the time the doctor thought it would be fun to show him his recently removed appendix in a jar.
“Look at that one, right there,” my husband went on, pointing out the vulture perched on the bookcase. “Looks so real, it could swoop right down and pluck your eye out!”
“Let’s get you some food!” I jumped in. “How about a fluffernutter? I know you love that.” And I hurried into the kitchen before he could answer.
I was happy to have him under my roof again. Our relationship had been strained for a while. But things were better now, and I planned to keep it that way. Starting with the sandwich. This sandwich was going to be the best sandwich he’d ever tasted.
When my son walked in a few minutes later, his gaze was immediately drawn to the kitchen table. I’d just set the plate down, but that’s not where he was looking. In my haste to get him away from the zoo in the other room, I had completely forgotten about Mr. Feeny, the family Chihuahua. He sat in the center, staring lifelessly at the refrigerator.
“Much better than a bowl of fruit,” my husband had claimed.
“He stuffed Mr. Feeny?” my son whined. “Why couldn’t he bury him in the backyard like a normal person?”
“You know your father,” I smiled and gestured for him to have a seat.
Just then the man I married for better or worse came through the doorway. He put his arm around my waist and gave me a squeeze while my firstborn tore into his food.
It was one of those moments, the perfect kind, that you know you’ll remember until the day you die. My family was together again.