Aunt Cackie and Uncle Bill are in the middle of building their house and because Dad and his brothers own a construction business, Aunt Cackie and Uncle Bill hire them to build the porch in the backyard. Aunt Cackie talks to Dad and discovers he is divorced, available and, alas, good-looking. Aunt Cackie gives Dad Mom’s number, If you’re interested, she says and hands him a torn piece of paper with messy numbers, You would hit it off, she says.
The porch is to have a built-in bench and dad asks how big they want the bench to be and Uncle Bill says, Big enough for my sister-in-law to fit on it. Dad has a slight look of terror on his face knowing that he just told Aunt Cackie he would call a morbidly obese woman after she told him they would hit it off, but he laughs it off and builds the biggest bench he can.
Dad calls Mom and they talk for hours and mom thinks he’s well-spoken on the phone and they plan a date and she is excited. Aunt Cackie calls mom and says, Bill might have joked to Mike that you are obese, she says, warning her not to be upset if he doesn’t show up. Well, of course he did, mom says because she is not surprised.
Mom gets to the restaurant first, waiting only five minutes and certain that he will not show up. Dad walks in and looks around trying to find a woman sitting alone and he asks the hostess if there is a Mary Beth O’Neill here and the hostess points to her table and he sees her and she is not obese.
Aunt Cackie and Uncle Bill move to a different house and I am five now. Dad still works construction but not as much as he used to and Aunt Cackie and Uncle Bill want him to build another bench for them because they like benches on their porches. Mom stands on the finished half of the porch with Aunt Cackie and they talk and cackle and glance over at my sister and me because we are being goofballs. We stand on mountains of mushy mulch and dirty our white velcro sneakers. We share a pack of peanut butter crackers and we each get three but she tries to steal one of mine when I turn away because I like to keep my crackers in my pocket. I have my mountain and she has hers and we run to the top and jump off like we are skydiving. We find plastic grocery bags and hold them above us as we jump off the mountains because the bags are our parachutes and they help us land safely.
It’s time to leave but Aunt Cackie and Uncle Bill say, Come back whenever you want, because we’d love to have you, and when we go back in two weeks the mountains are gone and we don’t want to be in a big house with shiny floors and big windows. We want our mountains of mushy mulch back but they will never come back.