I heard Heather answering it." Hello ", she said yawning.
" Who? I'm sorry, no one by that name lives here. I'm afraid I don't know a Little Paul, at least one that lives here. Oh wait, you say he's your uncle from Tutweiler, and you're Rudolph, his sister Juanita's son. Hold on please." A nephew calling me at four a.m. out of the blue? Especially one that I know or have never spoken to. It has to be something about my sister, I hope everything's ok.
" Hello. "
" Hello Uncle Paul, I'm your nephew Rudolph. I'm sorry for waking you, I forgot about the time difference."
" It's ok Rudolph, I happened to be up anyway. Is everything ok? How's your mother?"
" She's good, as a matter of fact she's the reason I'm calling. Mama's turning fifty in a couple of weeks, and we're giving her a surprise birthday party. She talks about you all the time, and I was just wondering, just hoping you and your wife will join us. She'd really like to see you, and honestly me, my sister, brother and dad would also. I understand your thirtieth class reunion also coincides with this weekend. Please come, or at least think about it. Like I said, we all would like to have you guys here with us. I can either drop you an invitation in the mail, or e-mail you all of the particulars." Even though I've never met Rudolph, I felt his warmth and kindness through the phone. And, for the first time in a long time, I felt no apprehension in my heart about finally returning home. Besides, family is family and home is home. I miss my sister, and look forward to meeting my niece, nephews and brother-in-law and them finally meeting Heather. It's been far too long, I'm even going to see my father. With him having dementia and living in an assisted living facility, I'm not sure he'll even remember me. Besides, healing won't take place, nor will closure without forgiveness. Who knows? Maybe my haunting nightmare will finally cease.
" Grab a pen Rudolph, and I'll give you our address."
" Great, Uncle Paul, give me a sec. Mama's going to be so surprised, and I speak for the rest of us when I say we all look forward to finally meeting you."
" We look forward to meeting all of you as well. I can't wait to see my big sister!"
" Neither can she Uncle Paul, neither can she, trust me. This is going to be her best birthday ever."
" Well that sounds wonderful Rudolph. Give me your contact information and I'll e-mail you our itinerary."
" Ok Uncle Paul. Uncle Paul?
" Yes Rudolph, is there anything else?"
" It's just that everyone calls me Rudy."
" Ok Rudy, only if you call me Paul."
" I'll do that, but only when you say it's ok to do so in front of mom. We're adults, but she still expects us to respect our elders."
" Point taken Rudy, I understand. Until we meet then?"
" Until we meet Uncle Paul, bye now."
" Bye Rudy."