17 - There's no such thing as divine intervention.

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My dad answered my call on the fourth ring through the car speakers as I drove to Madden's school to pick him up and finally go home.

"Hey, kiddo," he said joyfully. "Good to hear from you! How are you two doing?"

"Not bad, Dad. Just on my way to pick up the kid now from school."

"Now? Why have they got you working back so late?" he enquired curiously. "You work too damn hard, Sade."

"Wasn't at work, Dad. Had an appointment to go to," I said truthfully.

"Appointment? Are you okay? What's wrong?" He sounded panicked, which on him was so strange and out of character because he was always so cool and collected, even when he was madly annoyed by something, especially his team losing in the footy. I laughed to try and ease his worry.

"I'm okay, I promise. It's a long and complicated story, but it's one of the reasons I'm calling actually. Is there any way we could come up and stay with you this weekend? I don't really want to go into it over the phone too much, but I'll talk to you about it when I see you." As soon as I finished speaking I knew it probably came across vaguer and more worrisome than I initially anticipated, which would only encourage his panic further. Before he could interject and question me further, I added, "Madden has been struggling a bit with his game, and I was hoping maybe you might be able to spend some time with him. You know, pull out your old boots and give him a run around with you? Talk to him a little about how to manage the pressure? Remind him why he loves it as much as you did? Please?"

"Oh, kiddo. You had me a little worried there," he said, sighing in relief. "Yeah, of course you guys can come 'round. Always love having you over, and I'm more than happy to talk to him about all that. Though I'm surprised you haven't just spoken to him about it yourself. You have been around the game your whole life and love it as much as I do. It's unlike you to not know what to say to him. Are you sure you're alright?"

"Honestly, I've been struggling a little lately and could use the break just as much for myself as for him. Don't worry, I'll talk to you about it on the weekend. I haven't told Madden yet and I'm just pulling up to the school now so I've gotta go. Are you okay if we come down tomorrow night after work? Won't get there until around seven o'clock but I'll pick up some food on the way so you don't have to cook."

"Alright, love. Just take your time, don't rush down. I'll see you tomorrow. Love you, kiddo." 

"Love you too, Dad. Bye," I said, turning the car off.

I got out and walked into the school to get Madden, updating him on our impromptu plans to head away for the weekend for a visit with my father. In his usual kind and generous way, my father had been wonderfully supportive and inclusive of Madden all his life. Even though he was not his own grandson, he always treated him as if he were, and Madden looked up to him with nothing but love and respect as his grandfather, referring to him always as Poppy Ray. He was excited about the visit as it had been a while since we had been to Dad's house, even though we saw him every weekend at Madden's games, which he came to every week, rain, hail or shine, cheering him along on the sidelines as he always did for Seth and Brayden. The man lived and breathed footy, and was only all too happy to be there supporting him.

We went home and Madden was packed for the weekend within ten minutes of walking inside, bag waiting next to the front door, ready to take with him the next day. Even if it was just a shirt trip to my dad's, he was really excited. We rarely went away because I could never afford to take him anywhere nice or fancy on holidays. His excitement was infectious and I found myself looking forward to it too, despite all my previous reluctance with Karen.

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