Friday, April 29, 2011

The Man from Swift Current Chapter Sixty - The Girls' Graduation

Chapter Sixty – The Girls' Graduation

We were up early the next morning and met the rest of the family for breakfast at their hotel.   We soon were back on the road, heading for Swift Current.   We arrived at Uncle Dave and Aunt Mary’s home just before noon.  It didn’t take long for us to return Uncle Dave’s boat to its place in the garage, and to put away all of the camping gear. We joined the women in the kitchen for a light lunch of sandwiches and a veggie tray. The girls were still at school; so we relaxed for a few hours waiting for them to return.  

When Nancy and Cynthia arrived, I was the first to give them a hug and a kiss, followed by Ben. They both had changed quite a bit over the course of the school year.

Nancy said, “Welcome home, boys! We’ve missed you!”

“Yeah, we’ve missed having you guys around this year,” Cynthia said. “We haven’t had as many guys hanging around the house to flirt with, since you left.”

Nancy laughed.  “Don’t believe her! She has had plenty of guys trying to get her attention. She hasn’t needed any help from anyone in that department!”

Cynthia blushed at that, but was quick to respond, “Nancy's right; but she has had just as many guys running after her.”

“We both have boyfriends,” Nancy said. “They’ll be coming over later tonight. We want them to meet our big brothers!”

Ben and I laughed. “Is it someone I know?” Ben asked his sister.

“Yes, it’s Jared from your hockey team. We started dating a few weeks ago. He’s been very sweet,” Cynthia said.

I looked at Nancy, “So who’s your boyfriend?”

“His name is Aaron. I don’t think you know him since he moved from Saskatoon, and this is his first year at our high school,” Nancy responded. “He’s really nice, and I think you’ll like him.”

Ben said, “Glenn likes all the guys; but he’s taken so he can’t play the field anymore!”

I blushed a little bit, but laughed with the rest of them.  “Yeah, you’re right, Ben. I like checking out the guys, but like you said, I’m off the market.”

Nancy asked, “Have you been able to talk to Rick since he left?”

“Yes, I’ve been able to talk to him a couple of times. Most of the time we send text messages to each other. I don’t know where he’s at right now. Last week, he was in Germany. He couldn’t tell me where his unit was going to be stationed.”

“I hope he’s safe; wherever he is,” Cynthia said. “I really like Rick, Glenn. You picked a great guy.”

Randy and Shawn joined us. Randy asked Nancy, “Have you decided where you’re going to school next year?”

Nancy replied, “No, but Grandpa said I could go any school I wanted. I’ve decided I want to be a nurse like Aunt Mary.”

“That’s what I want to do as well,” Cynthia said. “I’ve decided I’m going to the same school as my Mom. I’ve already been accepted at Weber State University.”

Shawn asked, “Nancy, why don’t you go to the same school as Cynthia?”

“I want to go school here in Canada. They have a really good nursing program at the University of Saskatchewan at Saskatoon. Aaron’s going to school there and Eric thinks that he might move there as well; since he and Laura plan to be married this summer, and Laura wants to finish her degree.”

Randy said, “I wondered when Eric was going to propose to Laura! Did they set a date, yet?”

“He proposed to her last night; so I don’t think they’ve set a date for the wedding,” Nancy replied.

Shawn said, “Do Mom and Dad know Eric proposed last night?”

Nancy replied, “No, Eric wants to tell them in person. He said he and Laura would be here by dinnertime, so you guys can’t tell the adults, okay?”

We all agreed to keep it secret until Eric got here. I asked, “What time is graduation tomorrow?”

Cynthia answered, “It starts at 10 AM.”

“That’s the same as it was last year,” I said.

“Yeah, I bet the graduation ceremony will be just like ours,” Ben said, smiling at our sisters.

They both laughed. “No, it won’t be like yours, Ben,” Cynthia said. “We don’t intend to wear a hockey jersey to graduation like you did instead of a cap and gown!”

Nancy said, “And we aren’t going to spike our hair, so it stands straight up, like you did, Glenn. You looked so gay that day.”

“Well, I’m gay aren’t I?” I asked.

“Yes, but you were so in your face about it that day. Most of the time, you’re just like any other normal guy,” Nancy said.

“I was making a statement, and I didn’t’ care who knew since I was leaving town anyway,” I said.

Randy spoke up for me, “Nancy, give the guy a break, okay?”

Nancy laughed at Randy as well.  “And speaking of making a statement, I remember that you were worse. You wore your hair in a Mohawk, and you died it purple and work black nail polish. Mom and Dad were totally horrified!”

Shawn looked surprised.  “You didn’t tell me about that! I always wondered if you didn’t have a wild side, since you seem to always be calm, cool and collected!”

Randy grinned at his partner.  “I’m glad I still can surprise you, Babe!”

Shawn laughed.   “You surprise me every day!” He pulled Randy close and kissed him.

Ben looked at me as he punched me in the shoulder.  “Don’t even think you’re going to kiss me, cousin.”

I returned his punch in the shoulder, “I don’t think anyone would want to kiss your ugly mug.”

Ben laughed.  “Only the best looking girls in the world get to lay one on me.”

Cynthia said, “You haven’t changed one bit, big brother! No wonder your girlfriend dumped you!”

“That’s not why she dumped me!” Ben exclaimed.

“Okay, then tell us why?” Cynthia asked, grinning at her brother.

“Do you really want to know the truth?” Ben asked, looking around at the rest of us.

We nodded our heads and waited for his explanation. “It’s because she got pregnant. She had been fooling around with another guy, and they didn’t use any protection. She admitted to me she loved him and had gotten pregnant on purpose to get him to marry her. She had dated me to try and make him jealous. It’s good thing we’d never slept together, or it could’ve easily been me who got her pregnant,” Ben said, his expression showing his relief.

Cynthia said, “I’m glad you’ve learned to keep it in your pants, brother. That’s more than I can say for when you were living home.”

Ben looked at his sister in surprise. “What?”

“Don’t go looking like you didn’t fool around with Sharon Watson. She told me everything you guys did every chance she got. I got so sick of hearing about how she had you wrapped around her little finger.”

Ben blushed.  “I didn’t know she was telling everyone about us.”

“Well, bro., let’s just say every girl in the school knew you two were getting it on almost every night after school,” Cynthia said, smiling at her very embarrassed sibling.

If Ben could have turned a deeper shade of red, he would have. I’d never seen Ben speechless before; but this time he didn’t have anything to say! I laughed and punched him in the shoulder again. “Now, who was telling me not to mess around with Ian?”

Ben had the decency to apologize, “I’m sorry I ragged on you about Ian. But you have to admit I was right about him just using you.”

“Yes, you were right. I remember you broke up with Sharon just before graduation. She decided she wasn’t going to marry a hockey player,” I said.

“Yes, that’s what she told me the night she dumped me,” Ben said. “It seems I have the worst luck with girls.”

Randy smiled at Ben and said, “Maybe you should try finding a guy to date instead. I’m sure Glenn can find you a good looking guy to share your bed, when you get back to school. He seems to have a good eye for picking good looking guys.”

Ben looked over at me and shook his head.  “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m just not wired that way. I’m going to have a difficult enough time keeping the guys away from Glenn. Rick made me promise to watch over Glenn while he’s gone.”

I nodded in agreement, “Rick did make Ben promise to take care of me. I have a feeling I’m going to be taking care of Ben instead; since he’s having so much trouble finding a girlfriend.”

Ben laughed.  “We’ll see how things go, cousin.”

We migrated downstairs as group to play video games. Randy and Shawn were pretty good; but I managed to still beat them. I finally lost to Cynthia. She went on to beat everyone else, so I didn’t’ feel too bad about losing to her.  Later that evening, Eric and Laura arrived, and announced their engagement to our parents. We had a nice dinner and spent the evening talking about Eric and Laura’s wedding plans. The girls' boyfriends showed up as well; but didn't stay very long, since they were graduating tomorrow as well.

The next day, we attended the girls’ graduation ceremony where we met up with my grandparents. Afterward, we all went out for lunch.

Over dessert, Grandpa asked, “Nancy, have you decided where you’re going to college?”

“Yes, I’ve decided to go to the University of Saskatchewan at Saskatoon,” Nancy replied.

“Good. What are you going to study?” he asked.

“I want to go into nursing. They have a good program there. Eric and Laura plan to go there as well, since Laura wants to finish here degree,” Nancy said.

Grandpa looked across the table at my Dad. “Will you allow me to help them?”

Dad looked surprised Grandpa had asked him.  “Yes, I’m sure they would be very happy for any assistance you can give them.”

Grandpa turned to Eric and Laura and said, “As part of our wedding gift to you, we will pay the full cost of tuition, books, and fees, so you both can attend college. However, there is one condition.”

Eric looked at Laura and then back to Grandpa.  “What is that, Grandpa?”

“I insist you find a nice home to buy in Saskatoon. I will buy the home, and you will manage the property for me. I suggest you buy a duplex so Nancy can live on the other side with a couple of roommates. When you all have graduated, we will rent out both sides of the complex, and the rent will be used to help you buy another home; wherever your first job takes you. Does that sound like something you three would be agreeable to doing?”

Laura eyes were full of tears as she spoke, “It’s miracle! Eric and I had planned to move to Saskatoon; but we didn’t know how we were going to be able to afford to have both of us in school at the same time.”

Eric nodded his head.   “I’d planned to work while Laura finished. Then, Laura planned to work, while I completed my degree. Yes, we are willing to find a duplex that suites our needs, and will manage it for you.”

Nancy spoke up, “I’ll help you look, and I already have some friends who want me to be their roommate. I can invite them to move in with me, instead of all us trying to find an apartment somewhere. Thank you, Grandpa.” Nancy leaned over to give him a hug.

Laura said, “Yes, thank you for the very generous offer. I’m still not sure it’s all for real.”

Grandpa assured her, “It’s real alright! When we return to your Uncle Dave’s house, we’ll sit down and work out the details on paper, so you have an idea of how we will work things.” Grandpa stopped for minute then looked at me and Ben before continuing, “I want you two to do the same in Minneapolis, unless you’ve already signed a lease, Ben.”

Ben replied, “I’m afraid I had to, in order to get the house we wanted. Maybe we can find someone to take our lease for us. We will have to let you know once we return to school.”

Grandpa said, “That sounds good.”

I looked over at Dad who was smiling. After dinner, he came over to Grandpa and shook his hand.   “Thank you for helping the children. I’m sorry I was so stubborn about it before. My pride wouldn’t let me see you wanted the best for my children.”

Grandpa said, “I’m glad you finally saw reason, and stopped preventing me from helping your family. You’re a good man, Don, and you’ve raised a wonderful family. I know we haven’t always been on the best of terms; but I want you to know I’m gratefu you’ve made my daughter so happy.”

Dad said, “Thank you for the words of praise. I don’t deserve them because your daughter has made all the difference in the world to me, and it's through her efforts that our children have prospered, and have turned out to be very wonderful people.”

My Mom came up as he finished speaking.  “Don, you’re a wonderful man, too. Let’s go home so Dad can rest. It’s time for his nap.”

Grandpa smiled.  “Yes, it’s time for me to listen to you play my favorite piano pieces to put me to sleep. It’s been a very long time since I heard you play.”

With that, we all piled in our cars and returned to Uncle Dave and Aunt Mary’s home.

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