Here’s a smidgen of good news from Virus Land: Mary Ann and I hosted all three of our kids at home last weekend, and our son Thomas got engaged.
It was the first time we’d seen them since May, if memory serves. John arrived from Houston on Thursday night, followed by Audrey and her husband Zach a couple of hours later.
Thomas, who lives in New Orleans, drove up Friday night with his girlfriend Kayla for dinner but went home that night for his surprise proposal the next day. They made a second trip up on Sunday, too.
It all went surprisingly well. The kids like to cook and grill, so we ate very well for several days. John brought these gigantic steaks from Houston. He and Thomas grilled them Friday, but Mary Ann and I literally did not finish ours till this past Tuesday.
John also installed one of those doorbell camera systems that now sends an alert to my phone every time anything moves outside our home. He and Audrey got a laugh out of watching their mom mow the front yard Thursday because every pass she made by the front door triggered another alert.
Already, every time either of us passes by one of the four outdoor cameras, we wave. I saw Mary Ann waving Friday morning in the driveway.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the seven dogs thrown together in our house and back yard got along fairly well, with the notable exception that Chaw from Memphis and Sully from New Orleans clearly do not like each other and had to be kept apart.
Even more surprising is that Mrs. Ryan, who takes pride in an organized house, tolerated it without losing her cool.
She went into Defcom 1 mode the night before John and Audrey arrived. She and I rolled up a rug in the den and took it to our bedroom. Then we put an older rug in its place, one that apparently would not be missed if the dogs managed to destroy it.
But the big event was Saturday evening at the New Orleans lakefront, where Thomas dropped to one knee and asked KK, as we call her, to marry him.
They have been dating for three years and make a cute couple. I like her sister and spouse, her parents Kenny and Lisa, and especially her daddy’s father Pete — even though Pete is a Dallas Cowboys fan. We all get along well, and that’s a good thing.
Thomas actually put some thought into how to propose. He wanted it to be a surprise, so he let KK’s parents in on it and had them set up dinner at a restaurant along the lakefront. Their reservations were for 7 p.m., only for 11 people instead of just four.
Mary Ann, John, Audrey, Zach and I drove down from McComb and got to Lakefront Drive about 6 p.m. For once, there was no traffic delay on the interstate. There were people out, but it was not overcrowded. To put it in 2020 terminology, everyone was able to keep their social distance.
Thomas had planned to park in spaces facing the lake, but at 6:30 they were still full. So we and the Kimballs crossed to the lot where we had parked and got on top of the levee that keeps the lake out of Lakeview.
Thomas and Kayla didn’t get there till almost 7. I found out later that he missed his exit on I-610 and had to double back. He is still learning his way around New Orleans.
He texted when they were getting close, and we backed down the other side of the levee a few feet to stay hidden from KK. And sure enough, they drove into the parking lot — and took an empty space that was right in front of us.
I peeked over the levee, and if KK had been looking, she might have seen me. But she and Thomas turned and walked away, toward the lake.
Mary Ann and I learned in 2018, when Zach proposed to Audrey at a Mardi Gras parade, that these things never go like they’re supposed to. We had already avoided a close call, but then Thomas went to a different location along the lake than he had planned.
So the Ryans and the Kimballs rushed to catch up with them, but it was too late. By the time we approached, they were walking toward us, all lovey-dovey and smiling.
However, we all got to see the proposal — from about 20 feet up. Zach brought his drone to the event, and John was using Thomas’ drone, so they got some good images. In one of them, you could clearly see Thomas turn to KK and kneel down. It was nice.
The happy couple is looking at a virus-free wedding in early 2022. The happy Ryan parents were glad to see all three of their kids at once. And our two dogs, Stewie and Scarlett, were happy to get the back yard all to themselves after four days of sharing.