Late Notice is Better than None

My brother came into town for a quick family visit about a week ago – see my parents, be seen by my kids, shoot the breeze with my cousin Tom. He only decided a day or two in advance that he had the time to come, so he booked a ticket and gave me a heads-up late the night before that he was flying in and would be headed home the following Monday. It was great – we got brother time and he spent some really terrific hours with my kids.

Blitzkrieg visits are nothing new for my brother. He travels to consult and lecture all over the Western Hemisphere, and when he isn’t working, he travels the other half of the world to experience cheap and exotic eats and liquors. Visits home are quick and frequently unexpected. Ken definitely knows well how to leave ’em wanting more.

This visit was intended to be a surprise, which I spoiled on my arrival at Casa de Wilbur Saturday morning. Not just because to pick him up from the airport, I had to explain my jetting out at 8:00 PM and leaving my Mom to listen for kids waking up, but because there were certain expectations to set as far as breakfast in the morning. My Mom was a little disgruntled at first, but quickly came around to realizing that it was pretty cool that we was coming into town just to see family and not because he had something else going on.

My point was, at least Ken wasn’t telling us he’d gotten married. You see, this isn’t the first time we’ve gotten late notice of something. It was years ago, but the fun phone call I got at 2:30 AM is branded in my memory forever:

“Alan.”

“Mmmrmph.”

“Alan.”

“What?!”

“Did I wake you up?”

“Mmmrmph.”

“Dude, I got married.”

“Mmmrmph??”

“Are you there?”

“Yeah, yeah. Hang on a second … yaaaaaaaawn … YOU DID WHAT?”

“I got married.”

“Wow. I’m sorry, I’m having trouble waking up. Don’t think I heard you. You got married.”

“Yeah.”

“Are you in Vegas? What just happened?”

“Nothing just happened.”

“Wait. I don’t understand.”

“It’s actually been a little while.”

“What are you talking about? When did you get married?”

“About two months ago.”

[Editor’s note: my brother was the best man at my wedding, and I’d been waiting to be there for him in the same capacity. I liked his girlfriend and enjoy a wedding in general.]

“What?”

“About two months ago.”

“… What?”

“We needed some time to get used to it before we told everyone.”

“Ken, that’s what an engagement is for. You ask her if she wants to marry you, you tell everybody, then you get used to it while you wait for the big day to come around. Kind of how it works.”

“Yeah. That wasn’t our approach.”

“But you called me at 2:30 in the morning.”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“It felt like it was time to talk about it.”

“It will wait for the morning, then.”

Click.

My Dad always said that there was a $10,000 reward for any of his children that eloped. I like to think that was because he saw it as a pragmatic avoidance of the costs of a wedding, but realistically, I also have to recognize that most people don’t like all the stress and pomp associated with weddings. To his credit, I’m pretty sure my brother never claimed the bounty. Ken’s wife was a good girl and they had a good run of it, and I don’t have any lasting trauma for missing the ceremony they had before a justice of the peace, but that announcement in the wee hours of the morning had to have been one of the strangest calls I’ve ever gotten. And one of my favorite memories of my brother.

My Mom should relax and be glad she got 12 hours notice that he was showing up for a simple visit.

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