The next day, we heard from Dave several times, giving us an update on his current location. When he finally arrived, bearing gifts on top of giving us his time, it was just as easy to talk to him in person as it had been online. We sat around talking and laughing for a while, then called it a night so we could get an early start the next morning.
Sunday morning, we had a four hour drive to get to the home of my former father-in-law. We had decided not to call and let them know we were coming, as we weren't sure they would be there when we arrived if we gave them any warning.
My husband and I went to the door when we got there, and the kids let us in, full of excitement. When I told them I was there to take them home, they were even MORE excited. My former father-in-law was less thrilled...he said that since my former husband wasn't there, he would have to discuss all of this with him before he could do anything. I understood him wanting to let his son know what was going on, but I reminded him that physical custody of the children was mine alone, by law, and that I had the papers with me to prove it, so there was nothing he could do to stop me from taking them.
In the end, we decided to take the kids out for a few hours, to a nearby museum, and give him time to contact his son without us all hovering around. We had a good time that day, as Dave and the kids got to know each other...and all of them ganged up on me, since teasing me was something they had in common. During that time out, Brian let us know that he wanted to stay a little longer with his grandfather, as the upcoming week was final exam week for him...but Samantha was finished with school for all intents and purposes.
Back at the house, we were greeted with a strange sight....the house was dark, and we got no response to ringing the doorbell. Brian went around the house, looking to see if he could see anyone home, knocking on windows and on the back door. After a few minutes, "The Colonel" came out onto the front porch, closing the door firmly behind him.
That's when it got even stranger....he informed us that he had contacted the local police department and that they would be arriving momentarily. He had contacted my former husband who had given his permission for the children to leave (as if I needed that!), but "The Colonel" wanted to make sure that it was all legally done (as if I was going to believe that a LAWYER didn't know what my custody papers meant!). So we stood there waiting patiently for the police officers to arrive.
Once the police got there and read the papers, they told "The Colonel" that there was really nothing for them to do, as long as we were going to be respectful and peaceful. He asked if they would stay and supervise the packing, adding that he didn't want the children to take anything he had bought for them. The police officer said they could take anything that was their personal clothing or belongings, no matter who bought it for them. He said "We're talking clothes and toys here, not microwaves or televisions. What are you going to do, wear their clothes and play with their toys?"
Unfortunately, "The Colonel" wasn't finished trying to stymie our plans. Turns out the front door had "somehow" gotten locked when he came out...and he didn't have his keys on him. He started talking about us going home, while he and the kids stayed somewhere overnight and got a locksmith to come out the next day, and then we could come back the following weekend to get the kids and their things. I just smiled and told my husband to go ask Dave, who was waiting in his van, if he had his tools with him. As he walked away, I informed the police officers and "The Colonel" that Dave was a licensed locksmith, and that I was fairly sure he kept his tools with him at all times. The look on the face of "The Colonel" was simply priceless....I knew there wouldn't be any other roadblocks that day.
It took Dave just a matter of seconds to unlock the front door for us, at which time one police officer took Samantha upstairs to help her pack up her things. His partner stayed downstairs to talk to Dave, as he said he had never seen a "legal" set of lockpicking tools.
And since that day, any time either Dave or I say "Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" the other knows exactly what that means....LOL.
So, that's the story of how a virtual stranger became my "bestest" friend in the course of one weekend, and why he'll always have a special place in my heart...and always be "Uncle Dave" to Samantha. We love you, Dave...always have, always will!!!