Mary Poppins Was Right
All of Peter’s specialists were in Indianapolis. Whenever it was time for appointments, Sandra was a master at being able to cram multiple doctor visits in one day. Almost always we’d have at least two, usually three, and when we could work in four, it was kind of a grand slam.
Although we saved a lot of time—and time on the road—by doing so, those were grueling days. We’d usually have to leave early in the morning, spend two hours on the road, run all over downtown Indy, try to keep on schedule, help Peter “pull maintenance,” try to squeeze in a meal, spend hours waiting in offices or hospitals. Then two hours back home. Often we’d get home well into the evening.
One thing we came up with early on was to try to do some fun activity of some sort when the doctor visits were over. Often this consisted of some shopping at one of Indy’s malls, a meal at a nice restaurant, visiting the Eiteljorg Museum of Indians and Western Art, an Indianapolis Indians baseball game, or something else of interest.
Mary Poppins used to say that “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” and she was right! Just having something to look forward to at the end of the day, and being able to finish on a fun note, made a world of difference in making those long days bearable.
We did lots of different things for our “fun activities.” But here are a few that stick out in my memory.
One time when Peter would have been about 12, we’d wrapped up the schedule of doctor visits, and Pete and I were waiting on Sandra to finish up something. So I asked Peter what he’d like to do on the way home that day.
“Why don’t we eat at Fazoli’s?” he said. “I’d really like to do that.”
Fazoli’s??? That one totally threw me. Here’s a kid that can’t eat regular food, takes all his nourishment by a feeding tube, and he wants to go to Fazoli’s for fun? I pondered this for a moment, then finally had to dig a little deeper.
“Pete,” I started out somewhat hesitantly, “Fazoli’s is a good place, but you can’t eat. Of all the things we could do, why would you want to go to Fazoli’s for our fun activity?”
“I just love it there,” he said. “Everything there just smells so good.”
On another occasion later that year we went shopping at Lafayette Square mall, on Indy’s near west side. As Peter and I made our way down one of the corridors, a nice-looking, athletic young man saw Peter and made a beeline over to say “Hi.”
That was during the years that Peter couldn’t talk normally, but whoever this personable guy was, he could obviously read Peter’s lips very well. They launched into their conversation so quickly and enthusiastically that Peter never thought about introducing me, and I saw no point in interrupting.
Early in their discussion I figured out that this was an Indianapolis Colt, as he and Peter chatted away like old friends about off-season workouts, picking up free agents, and the prospects for next season. He was very gracious and appeared to be enjoying the conversation just as much as Peter. After about ten minutes, he told Peter “Good to see you, Pete, but I need to get going, take care, buddy,” and moved on.
By now, my curiosity was going bonkers.
“So who was that?” I asked.
“Oh, that was Dean Biasucci (Colts placekicker who’d been named as a Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection earlier that year). I got to know him when I was in the hospital.”
Another time, Peter was now somewhere in his twenties and it was just him and me in Indianapolis for a rare single doctor visit. We were done by early afternoon and had some extra time on our hands. As we were getting ready to leave the parking lot, Peter caught me off guard.
“Hey Dad. Since Mom’s not here today and it’s just you and me, for our fun activity of the day, how about if we go to Hooters.”
I had a good laugh, but we didn’t go to Hooters. I suspected his interest was in more than just “the way the food smells there.”