When James graduated from high school we hosted a big, fat, fun party to celebrate. It was fabulous. So five or six months before his college graduation I decided to throw him another one. This one would be more difficult because I was making all the arrangement and plans long distance, from three states over. After discussing the party with James I began to hammer out the details. And save my money. By the end of March I had the restaurant reserved, menu and drinks planned and contract signed. The party was to be at a Greek restaurant on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, a restaurant the three of us had been enjoying since James had started school at Carolina. Jimmy and I both feel that this particular Greek restaurant is the best we’ve ever eaten outside of Greece. The inside has an edge to it while still being authentic; the food is spectacular and imaginative WITHOUT using foam or stacking and, what made me truly happy, was that our party was on the second floor balcony overlooking a patio. The week before leaving for North Carolina, little sister Pamela mentioned that she and her crew were flying out the Thursday morning before grad weekend and suggested we all travel together. Our original plans were to fly out Friday but why wait to party? Jimmy changed our reservations and we were set. I couldn’t wait to see James! I knew he was feeling a little down about leaving all his friends compounded by the fact that he had picked up some kind of bug or cold or something. Cynthia and Elizabeth were flying in from New Jersey and San Francisco on Friday to round out the celebration and family was just the ticket to brighten my boy up. The Carras’ and Schloss’ flew in Thursday morning, we picked up our rental cars and split up. They were checking into the hotel we were all staying and we were off to see our boy. When we arrived at James’ house he said he felt so rotten he couldn’t come downstairs and let us in so he just gave me the code to unlock the front door. His room was on the third floor. We got to the top of the staircase and entered his room. He was sick…really sick. Mama and Daddy went into action. I sent Jimmy for cold medicine, ibuprofen, Coke with shaved ice and Panera’s chicken soup. I wiped James’ brow with a clean, cold cloth. I made up his bed, picked up clothes, and filled a garbage bag with empty paper cups, coke cans, dirty napkins, tissues, paper plates and all manner of college kid trash. I opened his graduation packet and hung up his gown, cap and cord. After getting him settled in, we told him we were taking him to the doctor the following day, first thing in the morning, so if they could do anything to make him feel better he would have a whole 24 hours to get back to normal. That night Jimmy and I barely slept for worry. The following morning James could barely make it down the stairs. I was calm…after all, we were on our way to the doctor’s. At the doctor’s office James texted us ever once in a while. “I’m waiting for the doctor.” “They’re giving me a chest x-ray.” “Now they’re giving me a breathing treatment.” The last text was “Pneumonia!” Thank the Lord we got up there a day early! We left the medical building laden with instructions and prescriptions…and we each had a job. Jimmy was to get more soup, sweet tea and all the high-octane meds. I was going upstairs with James to get him back in bed and clean that nightmare of a room. And James was to get better. I found him a clean tee-shirt and pajama bottoms, put him on the sofa and stripped his bed. I washed all the bed linens, separated the clean and dirty clothes, washed the dirty clothes and folded 400-lbs. of clean ones. In the kitchen I grabbed another garbage bag and picked up more tissues, napkins, dead soft drink cups, old mail and wait! What’s this? A large box of pizza with only one piece missing. It had been there two days. I moved to toss it in the garbage bag when James moaned, “No, Mama. It’s good. It’s just fine. Don’t throw it out.” As I set it aside he sent a quick text and fell back in the bed. Two seconds later we heard the pounding of racing footsteps coming up the stairs. It was a fraternity brother/housemate happy as can be to take the two-day old pizza off James’ feverish hands. Jimmy and I laughed and shook our heads. Boys. By then it was afternoon and James was all set to sleep for the rest of the day. He had taken all his medicine, eaten and showered. He was exhausted. We left him to then stop by the restaurant where James’ graduation party was to be held and see what our options were. I knew the antibiotics were super-powerful but there was always the chance he wouldn’t be better by the next day. At the Greek restaurant we waited by the hostess stand for the young lady in charge of events and parties. I hadn’t met her yet; didn’t even know what she looked like. But when I saw that dour, angry face making her way over from the back of the restaurant my heart sank. This was NOT going to be fun. Everything about her body language screamed irritation and inconvenience and we hadn’t even spoken yet. After introductions I explained our situation, that James was sick, we didn’t know if we could even HAVE the party and when would we have to let her know if it was to be cancelled. She tightly crossed her arms, scowled at us and snapped, “NOW! You’ll have to tell me now. I need to know right now!”. Just barely keeping my temper in check I asked if we could have a couple of hours to at least discuss this and she responded with a dismissive, “Sure.” not even looking at us but typing on the computer keyboardin front of her. We left the restaurant and made our way to the back of the building to a lovely garden patio which provided shaded quiet and elegance to the patrons of the neighboring restaurants. We split a salad while trying to discuss the possibility of James getting better and which receptions, graduations and parties we had to attend versus which we wanted to attend. It was hot. It was the end of the day. I felt beaten up and beaten down. My heart ached thinking how James hadn’t been able to say goodbye to so many friends who had already left for the summer. He just couldn’t get out of bed. He hadn’t even seen the rest of the family yet. There was a good chance he wouldn’t be able to walk at his own graduation and he had worked so hard for so long. I couldn’t bear the weight of it all but I didn’t want Jimmy to see me crying. As tears of frustration, anger and worry streamed down my face I just sat there quietly with my big sunglasses on not making a sound. But you can’t fool my Jimmy. He was about to put another bite of salad in his mouth when he put down his fork and brightly said to me, “You know what? I’m going to go do something. I’m just going to talk to “her” for a second. Just see what our options are.:)” I blew my nose with one of those crappy, sand paper rough paper napkins when he turned around, smiled sweetly at me and said, “I’ll be nice. Really”. I remember thinking, “Oh, shit. She’s gonna get it now. She doesn’t know who she’s messing with.” He left and I called a friend. She let me boo-hoo and have a pity party. As a mother she knew how I felt. When I saw Jimmy round the corner I quickly said, “I gotta go! Jimmy’s here!” and I turned my attention on Jim. Well, apparently he DID tear the event planner a new one. That woman was shaking when he left the restaurant. He told me everything and ended the story by saying, “When I looked over and saw you…well…nobody makes my wife cry!” I have to tell y’all, I’m strong and typically can fight my own battles and pretty well but I’ve got to say it felt really good hearing that. At a time when I felt ineffective and vulnerable he made me feel completely protected. And safe. Nothing could hurt me or James. The following day was wonderful! The antibiotics had kicked in and James felt well-rested. We went to his Entrepreneurship minor graduation and the all the receptions. At the end of the day was our party and it was beyond perfection. After Miss Party Pooper’s tantrum the staff was bending over backwards to please us. A stiff breeze flowed through the beautiful balcony where the party was held. The sunset scattered pinks, yellows and oranges across the sky. Cocktails were mixed and hor’s d’oeuvre were passed. We stayed all night and after the last guest left the whole family sat down and had Greek coffees, green teas, and Greek desserts. We laughed, had party chatter and told stories. We made fun of ourselves and each other. I was so grateful. There IS something to be said for being rescued by a knight in shining armor!
Cucumber Gin Fizz
- 2-3 ounces gin, Hendricks and Boodles taste great in this
- 2-3 ounces fresh cucumber juice
- splash of lemon juice
- splash of simple syrup
- splash soda water
- Fill your cocktail shaker 1/2 full of ice.
- Add gin, cucumber juice and lemon juice.
- Shake vigorously.
- Add soda water to shaker.
- Fill a tall glass with ice, strain mixture and pour into glass.
- Garnish with fresh cucumber or lime slices.