Every Saturday Dad takes one of us kids—Courtney, Megan, Zara, or me—out for breakfast.
Sometimes we eat at a restaurant, and sometimes we buy milk, juice, and doughnuts and eat in the park.
I really like eating breakfast alone with Dad. The food’s always good, but even better is getting to talk to Dad and have fun with him, just me, with no interruptions. Some Saturdays we don’t get home from breakfast until lunchtime. Then Mom laughs and asks us, “Does it take you three hours to eat breakfast?” and Dad hugs me, winks, and says, “Oh, Paul and I had a lot to talk about. With all the women around here we don’t get much chance for man-to-man conversation.”
Dad and I have never missed having breakfast together when it’s been my turn. Even when he was sick with a cold one Saturday, we still ate together. Mom helped me fix up a tray, and I took it to his room, and we sat on the big bed and ate and talked and laughed.
Then one day Grandma fell and broke her arm, and Dad went to Olmsted for a while to help her.
“When will you be back?” I asked on Monday morning as he got ready to go. I was a little worried, because the next Saturday was my turn to have breakfast with him, and I didn’t want to miss it.
Dad must have known what I was thinking, because he mussed up my hair and said, “I’ll try my best to be back by Saturday, Paul. But”—Dad hesitated and looked at me seriously—“I’m not sure how things will work out with Grandma, and I don’t want to leave until she’s OK.”
“I understand,” I said. I knew that Grandma was important to Dad too.
During the week Dad phoned several times, and I talked to him, but he still wasn’t certain when he’d be back.
Friday night when I went to bed, I thought, When I wake up in the morning, Dad will be here! And then I started wondering where we’d eat. But Saturday morning when I got up, Dad wasn’t home.
“Dad called late last night,” Mom told me. “He expects to be home sometime today, but he’s not sure when. Have some cereal.”
I ate the cereal, but it wasn’t very good. I felt angry. I had a lot to tell Dad, even more than usual because he’d been away all week. Then I felt guilty, because Grandma needed him too.
I kept looking out the window for Dad. It got later and later, and we ate lunch and then dinner. Finally Mom said, “It’s time for bed, Paul.”
I got my pajamas on but didn’t get into bed. I thought that the longer I stayed awake, the better the chance I’d have of getting to see Dad when he got home. I was yawning and struggling to keep my eyes open when I heard the car horn honk. Then Dad yelled, “Paul!”
“Dad!” I ran down the stairs and hugged him.
“Why, what are you doing in your pajamas? Run and get dressed. We’re supposed to have breakfast together!”
“But it’s late! How can we eat breakfast at night?”
Dad laughed. “Oh, I know a special place. Hurry! Mom doesn’t want you to be up until midnight.”
I ran upstairs and got my clothes on as fast as I could. It wasn’t until Dad and I were in the car and going down the road that I remembered to ask about Grandma.
“Oh, she’s doing really well,” Dad said. “And she’s just as energetic as ever. Except instead of doing all the housework herself, she sat and watched while I did it!”
We both laughed. Dad stopped in front of a restaurant and asked, “How do pancakes sound?”
It felt strange to be eating pancakes late at night, but I was so happy to be with Dad that I didn’t mind. We talked and told jokes and laughed and made funny faces, and it was the best breakfast Dad and I ever had.