"Just relax, son…one more x-ray."
Rick tried not to look impatient, but he was tired of holding his foot up so the technician could get another angle. Still sore and bruised from his ordeal, Rick's level of patience was wearing thin, so he was grateful when Rudy Wells finally smiled and said, "All done, you can put your leg down."
"Thank God, …it was about to fall off!" he groaned, lowering his injured leg. The old doctor just shook his head.
"I know it's hard not having Missy here with you, Rick, but I want to make sure that if the mineral pools help, I have an idea of how much swelling and inflammation you both had. Doc will let me know when he's done."
"Sorry, Rudy…I guess I'm just spoiled….Laurie's always there…" he started, and the older man put a hand on his shoulder and helped him sit up.
"It's okay, son….she's going to be all right. If the spa doesn't help, we'll just bring her back here and I'll take care of her back another way."
A knock on the door caught both their attentions, then Doc opened it and said, "I've finished Laurie's x-rays, why don't we go over to the pools now."
"Lead the way…" Rick smiled in spite of himself, then exchanged his hospital gown for a robe and his swim trunks. Outside the x-ray room, he found Laurie waiting for him, shadows under her eyes but a relieved look on her face.
"There's my sweetheart…." Rick began, as she put her arms around him, then kissed him. After a moment and two cleared throats, Laurie blushed as she released his lips.
"I missed you….silly isn't it…to be apart for an hour….but I still worry."
"Not silly at all….means I married the right girl." Rick teased, rubbing her back with one hand as he helped her navigate the hospital corridor.
"Oh, you did, did you?" Laurie giggled as they reached the door for the health spa. Behind them, the two doctors rolled their eyes, then as the Simons went in, Doc said quietly, "I hope this works, because I'm afraid you're going to have a harder time then we thought with her fracturing disks…"
"You and me both…" Rudy replied wearily.
Hours later, a rejuvenated pair of doctors came out of the center, and one of them used his transmitter to radio over to the ranch, "We're on our way over."
"Thanks, Uncle Rudy, I'll let Robbie know." Ramona Simon replied, then said goodbye as her daughter's voice carried down the hall.
"I'm almost done, Robin…then you can make one too." Lala hit finish, then waited expectantly for the colored document to print out. Behind her the younger boy bounced in his chair impatiently.
"There-your turn." Lala got up from the computer, and her cousin slid over immediately, just as his cousins Petey and Katie came in.
"Ooh…are you guys making get well cards for Grandma too?" Katie ran over, and Robin looked up from the keyboard.
"Yeah, cause Dad said she'd like to see them after Uncle Rudy makes her back better."
"Well, after Rob's done, I show you guys how to make them, it'll be a nice surprise for her." Lala explained. Just then Robbie walked into the small room.
"There you are…I wondered why Jack was so lonesome in the kitchen…." He said, seeing the smaller Simon children with their cousins. At that Robin hurriedly finished his card, scrawling his name and folding it into an envelope.
"I'll go keep him company, Uncle Robbie…." He replied, putting the get well missive on the kitchen table, then dashing outside.
"Well, now it's my turn." Petey announced gleefully, and sitting in the computer chair, laboriously typed out a message. Leaning over to read it, Robbie was misty eyed at the childish words "Get Well Soonest, Grandma! We love you, Petey and Katie"
"That's very nice, son…I think it'll make your grandmother feel much better." Robbie brushed his sleeve against his eyes, then cleared his throat. His wife Ramona came up behind him, then put her arms around Robbie, quietly reassuring him, "Mom will be okay, honey. Dad will call if Uncle Rudy finds anything."
"I know, sweet, thank you for understanding, though." He managed, then turned in her arms and hugged her. Feeling a little motion against his stomach, he drew back in surprise.
"Ramona, was that….?" Seeing the look of wonder in her eyes, Robbie put his hand on her stomach, and smiled.
"Thank you, little one….I know you're getting impatient, but you'll be here soon enough and you get to meet your grandmother and grandpa." He whispered.
The sound of Rick's truck startled both Robbie and Ramona, as Lala called out, "Grandpa and Grandma are here! I'm going to let them in!"
Surprised, husband and wife looked at each other, then stood aside as a stampede of grandchildren and nephews and nieces ran past them to the front door.
"I thought…." Ramona started as they peered out the front window, then she beamed as Robbie laughed, "I think Uncle Rudy must be a miracle worker….look!"
Slowly but steadily coming up the walk, Rick was arm in arm with Laurie, as they stepped onto the porch, then smiled as Lala opened the door.
"Welcome home, Grandma….but what happened? I thought Uncle Rudy had to operate." She asked, puzzled.
"Nope, never underestimate your Uncle, honey…" Laurie grinned, hugging her gently. As Lala stepped aside, Robbie and Ramona let the children greet Rick and Laurie first, then embraced them.
"What happened, Mom? What did Uncle Rudy do?" Robbie asked, as she kissed his cheek, then let Ramona help her sit in her chair.
"Well, he did an x-ray, then prescribed a different treatment, and it worked!" Laurie explained, smiling as first Melly then Katie gave her flowers they had gathered.
"And it figures, it helped me too." Rick added, taking his seat. At that Robbie got it.
"He had you both go to the mineral pools?"
"Yes, like Rob kept saying, he thought all I needed was a good soak, and that's what we both did. Then your Uncle took another x-ray, and it made all the difference." Laurie told him.
"You're kidding, it made that much of a change?" Ramona said, and Rick nodded.
"Yep, reduced your mother's swelling inside her discs, so Rudy was able to inject some cartilage into the broken areas. We only had to wait an hour, and she can't do a lot for the next few days, but your Mom should be fine now."
"And, if the cartilage takes, your Uncle will present his finding to the medical board as a possible treatment for ruptured discs and other injuries." Laurie finished, twining her fingers with Rick's. "And, the mineral spa reduced your Dad's swelling too."
"This is so wonderful, we should have a party, Dad." Ramona exclaimed, and Rick snickered.
"Oh, somehow I think we can do that…son, do you want to help your Uncle get lunch out of the truck?"
Robbie let out a laugh, as he looked outside and saw boxes of pizza in the back of Rick's truck. As he went out to get them, A.J. and Linda pulled in, and between him and Linda, and Ramona, they fetched all the goodies. As the last pie was put on the table,
the rest of the Simons arrived, followed by the good doctor and Oscar and Cecelia.
"Where's Ricky and Andy?" Oscar looked around the ranch house, then grinned as Linda explained, "They went to get some soda, do you have it, Oscar?"
"Yes, honey, although I still wish somebody would have let me give them a good talking to…seems they take after more then Rick." He pretended to grouse, staring meaningfully at Laurie. She only smiled, then blushed as Rick brought her hand to his lips.
"Tough, Dad…my little warrior's already rubbed off on them…but I do think they heard you loud and clear."
"They'd better.." Oscar chuckled. The sound of Ricky's horn made him laugh even harder, as Robbie moved to open the gate.
"Every time I hear that …"
"I know Dad….he's still just a big kid." Laurie remarked, slowly rising from her chair. Giving her a hand, Rick squeezed her fingers as she murmured, "and you're my big kid…"
Winking at his wife, Rick let her open the front door to their nephew and grandson, enjoying the look on their faces of surprise.
"Grandma….I thought Uncle Rudy was going to…" Andy began, then a loud "YAH!" stopped him in his tracks.
"Surprise, Andy, Ricky….." Laurie told them, giving the two guys a hug. "Your uncle Rudy figured out a way to help me without surgery. And we wanted to thank you both for how you saved your grandpa and uncle."
"Auntie…." Ricky shook his head, then subsided as Rick added, "Nope, you and Andy did something very brave, and we wanted to say thanks …..."
"We only did…" Andy started, clearly overwhelmed, "what we had do…we couldn't just let you die!"
"We know…." Rick embraced his grandson, as Ricky buried his face in his father's hug. At the sound of Melly's wail of "I thought he'd be happy, Mom!", A.J. cleared his throat and answered, "He is, honey…."
Just then a little black streak shot into the room, and laughter burst from Andy as Jack jumped into his arms and licked his face.
"Thanks, Jacky….I'm happy too." He sputtered, then Ricky recovered and petted the wagging dog as Oscar announced, "Pizza's on!"
As the family gathered around the expanded table, food in hand, Oscar passed both Andy and Ricky a certificate, The look on the two young Simons' faces was immeasurable as he said, "the State of Arizona and the Tribal Council are both awarding you Citations of Honor for your actions in saving your Dad and Granddad….We are very proud of you.."
"Thanks, Uncle Oscar.." Ricky wiped his eyes and carefully put the paper away. Andy blew his nose with his napkin, then snickered as Jack put his paw over his eyes.
"Jacky, that's not nice….." Katie declared, shaking her finger at the terrier. Laurie just rolled her eyes.
"It's okay, honey….Jacky thinks your cousin is making as much noise as me….thanks to your grandpa." Rick chuckled at that, then held up a small dog treat.
"Here, Jack…good boy!"
Jack took the treat from his hand, then decided it was an open invitation and jumped into his lap and sat down expectantly.
"Oh, no you don't, silly." Laurie shooed the little dog outside, where his dog food was waiting. Closing the kitchen door on his yipping, she sat back down at the table to find a pile of "get well" cards waiting on her plate.
"Oh, children….that is so sweet….thank you." She smiled, then opened each of them and showed them off. Rick listened with relief as Rudy explained to their family why he didn't' have to operate.
"So if your Grandma is careful, her back will be good as new, if she minds her favorite doctor." He finished, as Ricky and Andy passed their certificates around.
"Oh, she will…." Oscar fixed her with a firm look, then his expression softened as she leaned over and dropped a kiss on Rudy's cheek.
"I promised I would, besides, I have so very many reasons to mind him." She said, with a tender look towards her husband. Rick reached over and put his arm around her shoulders.
"I can think of a few.." he winked, breaking up the adults. A puzzled Melly looked at her cousin Davie.
"I didn't think grownups had to mind other grownups, did you?"
Davie nodded seriously to her. "Oh yes, Dad has to mind Mom….otherwise he's in trouble!"
At that Ian and Robin blushed, to the chuckles of their parents and family. Suddenly Ramona gave a startled cry, then grabbed Robbie's arm.
"Uh, honey….I think someone wants to interrupt…."
"Oh, my gosh…are you sure?" Robbie blurted, and Ramona gave him a look.
"Yes, Robbie…I think I recognize labor when I feel it!" she retorted, then gave a gasp of pain. "Uncle Rudy?" At that the younger children started to get excited.
"Mommy's going to have my sister!" Davey squealed, making even his mother smile.
"Okay, honey…let's get you into the guest room.." he started to say, only for Laurie to offer, "Our room is already set up in case you had to operate, she'll be more comfortable in there!"
"Your room it is, Missy…come on, honey." Rudy agreed, as Robbie hoisted his wife in his arms and carried her down the hall. As Laurie and Linda followed, Rick couldn't help but grin at his mother, a dazed smile on her face.
"Congratulations, Mom…you get to be a great-grandma again!"
"Thank you, son." Cecilia replied, her smile broadening. As Rick went to call both Chief Pete and Rob, she looked out the kitchen window, and saw the familiar figure of an old friend. Going to the back door, she opened it to see the face of Chief Joseph, standing where Grandmother Kasey often appeared.
"Thank you, Joe….for looking out for my children, and their children." She murmured, then smiled as his weathered lips spoke.
"I will always be there, Cecilia… Be happy."
At once Chief Joseph was gone, and she turned and closed the door, but not before pausing and saying softly, "I will."