Saturday, April 30, 2011

With Heavy Hearts

There is sadness in my family. My son’s wife has been in the hospital for almost three months. Tests have revealed that her liver is diseased. No, she is not a heavy drinker. Most of us associate liver disease with alcohol, but alcohol is not always the cause. There are several others. Another lady we knew died from Cirrhosis of the liver. She had never been a drinker. In fact, she was an avid teetotaler!

At any rate, my daughter-in-law will be at a hospital in Pittsburgh on Monday morning to undergo a series of tests that will determine if she is a candidate for a transplant, and to make sure she is in good enough condition otherwise to withstand the surgery. If it is decided by the experts that she is a candidate, her name will be placed on a long waiting list.

We are a large family. Our hearts are heavy. We ask for your prayers for our loved one. Her name is Debbie.

Thank you!  God Bless!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

What is it about sickness or death that brings out the worst in family members? It seems that people who normally love each other often turn into people we don’t recognize as soon as a loved one is seriously ill. Everyone wants to be in control. No one trusts anyone else to do the right thing for the person who is ill and could possibly die.

Of course, in the case of a married couple, it’s usually easy: each spouse makes decisions for the other if one is not able to make decisions for himself. But that can be quite different if the ill person is in control of his/her faculties and able to speak for himself. Sometimes, a relative – sister, brother, mother or father – will step in and persuade their child or sibling to do things his/her way, leaving the spouse out altogether. This causes hostility and the family quarrel begins.

So what happens? Nothing good! This usually results in the unhappiness of everyone involved, especially the sick person. He feels as if he's being pulled in two directions. Does he let his spouse be his “next of kin,” as it should be, and help him handle his medical affairs, or does he turn his back on his loving spouse and let his “blood” family influence his decisions? Either way, the most important person in this scenario is unhappy and feels guilty for causing someone he loves to feel left out. This unhappiness and guilt could make the difference in how quickly the person gets well - or if he does! It's a well-known fact that recovery is hastened - or hindered - by the sick person's attitude. A cheerful person will recover much more quickly than a person who is sad or depressed.

The outcome depends on the consciences of those involved. There is only one right way and there is no substitute for “right.” There are always consequences for treating others badly.

And sometimes the consequences are terrible!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Finery Now Just A Fond Memory~

Published in the Charleston Gazette today, April 24, 2011
Easter Sunday~ 

 My daughter recently wrote to tell me that she'd been thinking about how special Easter was when she was a child. She particularly remembers the new outfits she and each of her siblings got for Easter morning. "We'd shop for weeks to find just exactly the right outfit," she said. "We got new clothes from the skin out!"

She was right. Elegant spring dresses, matching wraps, hats, shoes and gloves were proudly worn by my three girls as we left for Easter morning church service. And their two brothers weren't left out, by any means. They, too, got new clothes from underwear to outerwear. A new suit, white shirt, tie, socks, shoes and fresh haircuts made them look as spiffy as their sisters.

Times have certainly changed! Nowadays, the jeans and tennis shoes worn every day are fine, in most cases, for that special Sunday morning. In some ways, the change is good. Today's relaxed mode of dress is an equalizer. No child has to feel he can't go to church or Sunday school on Easter because his parents can't afford to buy him a new outfit.

How exciting Easter is for children! It's second only to Christmas as the most fun holiday of the year. They delight in helping their mothers dye eggs -- watching them slowly change from white to the beautiful pastel colors of springtime is awesome. They look forward to finding baskets full of chocolate bunnies and assorted goodies when they awaken on Easter morning, and the Easter egg hunts that follow are especially fun. My kids used to hide their eggs for days after the holiday. I'd finally make them throw them away after the shells were cracked and the eggs were beginning to spoil.

While it's natural for children to think about the things that make a holiday fun, most of them learn the true meaning of Easter at a young age. But some get confused. One Easter at our church, the pastor was relating the Easter story to a group of small children. After explaining about the crucifixion, he said, "On the third day, two women went to the tomb and the stone had been moved away. They looked inside and what do you think they saw?"

"Easter Bunny!" a little boy bellowed. The congregation burst into laughter and the pastor, speechless for a few seconds, finally said, "You never know what they're going to say."

It's hard to predict what children will say or do -- or what will make a lasting impact on them. I had no idea, until recently, that my eldest daughter, now grown, still remembers how special it made her feel to get all-new clothes for Easter or how grown up she felt walking into church on Easter morning dressed in her new finery. As her mother, it warms my heart to know that she has such delightful childhood memories of Easter.
This picture of my boys didn't find room in this newspaper article, but they were very handsome in their Easter outfits, too!

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Used Everything You Gave Me

I see from the old clock on the wall that, in less than an hour, I’ll be a year older. Birthdays seem to come around faster every year, don’t they? It can’t have been a year since my last one!

If it were really important to me, I would tell you that I was born at 11:40 p.m. which means I won’t really be a year older for another whole 24 hours. But what does it matter? As they say, it’s not the number of years you live, but what you do with them that is important.

I have this little wooden cross on my bathroom wall. These words are painted on it: When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me."  ~Erma Bombeck

I love this sentiment! The woman responsible for it had one of the longest running columns in newspaper history. During the course of her career, she published more than four thousand syndicated columns in 900 papers nationwide, wrote 15 best-selling books, and became one of the world's most beloved humor columnists. She died at 69, her life cut short by kidney disease, but she certainly made the most of the time she had!

With that in mind, I’m feeling very grateful for another birthday. Perhaps that means I’m granted more time to use everything God gave me!

A Love of Writing and Baseball

It just occurred to me recently that I may have inherited my love of writing from my father.

He was a good man! He loved God, his family – and baseball. Never did we get together for a family gathering during baseball season that he didn’t disappear to my bedroom where he’d turn the radio on and lie on my bed listening to a ball game. We didn’t mind. It was his passion, and we let him enjoy it.

When he died and I inherited some of his personal belongings, I found a little book that had a lot of baseball stats in it, written in his handwriting. One read: Oct. 8, 1956  Don Larson pitched a perfect game in the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers pitcher was Sal Maglie.

Another said: Tom Seaver pitched the first no hit game of his baseball career on June 16, 1978. It was also the first no hit game to be hit in Riverfront Stadium at Cincinnati,Ohio. He beat the Saint Louis Cardinals 4 to 0.

Yet another: The first World Series night game was played October 13, 1971 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa, between the Pittsburgh Pirates and The Baltimore Orioles. Pittsburgh won the game 4 to 3. Attendance 51,378.

There were many other interesting facts written in this book and three others. He recorded the deaths of family members and friends, right down to what they died of and the place and time of death. He wrote about the death of Elvis and other famous people.

He even kept a record of his favorite songs. On one page he said he first heard a song called Blues in the Night at 4:30 a.m. on the radio after building a fire in the coal stove and was waiting for it to get hot; then he would awaken my mother to fix his breakfast and lunch so he could go to work. He wrote, “I worked in the coal mines at Burnwell, W.VA in 1940, 1941 and 1942.”

He wrote about many more things, including the Charles Lindbergh flight across the Atlantic on May 20, 1927. He related every detail! And he did it very well.

I guess I never thought that my lifelong desire to write could have come from my dad. I’ve always known what a sensitive man he was, but never thought of him as a writer before.

I believe he left me enough information in these little books to write a great historical novel. And I wouldn’t even have to do research. It’s all here – in my wonderful father’s handwriting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Learning the Hard Way

I have a relative I dearly love – but, by choice, I rarely talk with her. As loveable as she is – to put it bluntly – she talks too much! When she says at the end of a conversation, “It’s been so nice talking to you,” she means just that! Talking “to” you. One listens to this woman. You’re having a good day if you can express one complete thought without her interrupting. It’s very annoying, but she is such a sweet person that there’s nothing to be done without hurting her feelings. 

One recent evening, I discovered a message on my machine from a good friend. She wanted me to return her call her so I picked up the phone, looked at the memory log and, sans glasses, chose the name and number that I thought was hers and pushed the button. It rang only twice when, to my regretful surprise, a laughing voice said, “Well, hi Peggy. I’m so happy you called! I’ve been thinking about you.” Uh-Oh! It was the marathon talker. I was stuck!

There was no way I was going to tell her I’d made a mistake; she was too pleased that I’d called. So I made the best of it. Exactly an hour and a half later, we hung up! By then, it was too late to phone my friend since she goes to bed early. I sent e-mail instead telling her I’d call the next day.

I once knew a man just like this woman. It was impossible to have a two-way conversation with him. He never listened to another person because he was so busy thinking about what he was going to say next. This bothered me for years until I finally heard another man censure him! It was interesting! My friend was rattling on and on in his usual fashion, not listening to the other guy, when suddenly, the second one stopped him in mid-sentence. He said, “Now, Jimmy, if you’re talking all the time, you can’t hear what I’m saying, can you?”

I watched Jimmy’s face turn crimson and felt a little sorry for him, but it worked! He listened carefully to the other guy through the rest of the conversation. We lost contact not long after that, so I’m not sure if he learned a lesson from that incident or not. I can only hope.

However, I do know what I learned from my mistake: From now on, I’ll put my glasses on before dialing the phone!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Going Home~

Once I was in the ticket line, Dave put my suitcase down beside me, quickly hugged me, kissed my cheek, and said, “Good-bye.” I thanked him for everything and he left. There I was in the huge Orlando airport, surrounded by strangers, with no clue where to go or what to do next. I felt so alone! But, thankfully, I didn’t have to think about it very long. The ticket agent called, “next,” and that was me.

Picking up my suitcase, I went to the counter where I attempted to lift it onto the scale; the agent had to do it for me. Everything was taken care of in a few minutes and he gave me instructions as to where to go from here. It went something like this: “Turn left, then right, then you’ll go through security, then find a sign that says Gate 60 to 99 and wait for a tram.” Somehow, I managed it. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand how. I have to believe my guardian angel was with me, guiding me all the way. Before I knew it, I was standing at Gate 97, which was exactly where I was supposed to be.

When I was allowed to board the plane, about thirty minutes before scheduled take-off, I found my seat, put my carry-on into the overhead compartment, sat down and breathed a sigh of relief! Then I took my cell phone out of my purse, called my husband and let him know I was on the plane and would see him in a couple of hours. Whew!

My seat mate was a sweet young girl who happened to be a student at Marshall College in Huntington. She was returning from spring break, which she’d spent in Orlando. She was very friendly and we talked, making the trip go faster and my anxiety less severe.

In fact, at one point, looking out at the clouds gave me a peaceful feeling, and there was no fear at all. I thought about my visit with Carol. It was special, indeed. She and her family had treated me very well. Her friend, Dave, did, too. He repaired the broken heel on my shoe, took me to and from the airport, and cooked a special dinner for us on Sunday. I was very appreciative!

When I felt the plane gradually losing altitude, I knew we were getting close to landing. Looking out the window, I could see houses and other objects below that weren’t visible a few minutes ago. Then the captain said, “We'll be landing in Charleston in about seven minutes. Hope you’ve had a nice flight.” It was exciting to be coming home!

It took too long to get off the plane. I knew my husband was waiting and I couldn’t wait to see him and the rest of my family.

Funny thing about traveling. For me, at least. No matter where I go or how long or short the stay, it feels wonderful to return to my home and family! Carol’s house is beautiful and I was treated like royalty. I had a wonderful time, but I'm always drawn back to where I belong.

Why do you suppose that, after being away for a few days, home seems so much sweeter? My 45 year old domicile is looking "lived in" and "grandchild marred" in every room. It could use a lot of fixing up, but when I return from a trip, it is the most beautiful place I've ever seen! It's mine and it's "me" – my mess and my personality. And I love it! 

Carol sent an 8 X 10 album of the pictures she took, and I’ve made a video to send her. We have beautiful memories – enough to last a lifetime. I’m grateful for that, but, to quote a well-known American proverb, “There’s no place like home!”

No more trips for me for a while!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In The Overall Scheme of Things~

Painting "April Showers" by Fred Lisaius

Some say promises are made to be broken. I hope that’s true because I’ve broken a few of them lately. The most important one is to you, my blogger friends. I said I’d be back to wrap up the ending of my recent trip to Florida, and I haven’t done that. I apologize. My only excuse is, to put it simply, “Life” got in the way!

Those of you who read me all the time know that my favorite saying is, “Live in the moment." I really try to do that. I suppose that is why – as much as I enjoyed the time with my friend – I realize that it is now the past; today beckons. There is much to be done!

That doesn’t mean I’ll ever forget those four days; they will always be “special memories.” I will smile when I think of them. But they will not consume my thoughts or my life forever.

My husband and I visited a friend in the hospital yesterday. He and his wife have occupied the pew behind us in church every Sunday for several years and we have grown very fond of them! In recent months, we’ve watched as he quickly went from getting around very well, to barely moving, with the help of his wife. Everyone who knows this couple has noticed how fast the change took place. It seemed he went from an energetic, older man to a dependent “old” man in a very short time!

A few weeks ago, when he couldn’t get out of bed one morning, his wife called for help and he was taken to a hospital. Tests were immediately performed and it was discovered that he had a brain tumor the size of a hen egg! Surgery was scheduled and the tumor removed. We are overjoyed and very thankful that it was not malignant!

Our friend has been in the hospital twenty-two days and is scheduled to go home tomorrow. The family is delighted! Weeks of therapy have brought him back to the person we met a few years ago. He is actually picking up his feet to walk instead of shuffling along as he had been doing for months.

A story like this one puts things into perspective for all of us, doesn’t it? We learn what is really important. It’s not the piddling everyday occurrences that make our lives worthwhile. It’s family. It’s friends. It’s love. It’s making someone happy. It’s not fretting over trivial things. It’s making the most of the time we have. It’s enjoying each moment to the fullest.

Think about it!  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saying Good-Bye ~ Tuesday

The alarm was set for 8 a.m. My flight was scheduled to leave Orlando at 3:30 and it was more than an hour’s drive to the airport. Then I’d have to go through “Security” and find my way to the right gate, etc. It all took time. I didn’t want to leave, but since it was inevitable, I sure wasn't about to miss the flight. Dave had said we should leave by 12:30.

Carol was up and had our coffee ready. There was music playing – all of our old favorites. She looked at me sadly and said, “Peggy, if you’ll stay a couple more days, I’ll pay whatever the extra cost is for changing your reservation.”

I said, “As much as I’d love to spend more time with you, I have responsibilities at home: a husband, children, grandchildren, a very sick daughter-in-law, and a cat. They want me to come home as much as you want me to stay. You know I have to go.” She just looked at me with big, sad eyes. I said, “Besides, I know you’re ready to get back to your life with Dave, and he’s probably anxious to have you back, too.” She smiled.

It was sunny and hot after the rain yesterday. We walked around outside for a while looking at some beautiful flowers and trees. We saw a black snake slink into some nearby bushes, and I didn’t waste any time heading for the door. Carol followed.

I went to my bedroom to finish packing and start getting ready. Dave came at 11:30. Carol came in and asked if I’d eat a sandwich and some potato salad. I told her, “No, thanks. I get too nervous flying and it’s best if I don’t eat too much." I had tea while the two of them had lunch.

She insisted we take pictures by the pool. Dave took a couple of us together and I took a couple of them. By this time, it was about time to put my stuff in the car and head for the airport.

We chattered cheerfully all the way but we both knew we were just “whistling in the dark.”  Neither of us was happy that our time together was over.
Once at the airport, it was very congested as Dave tried to get close to the door where my airline was located. He had to double-park, get my bags out and leave Carol with the car while he carried my heaviest bag inside for me. That’s as far as they could go without going to the trouble of parking the car and walking a long distance. I assured them I’d be fine. 

Dave headed for the door with my suitcase. Carol stood beside the car looking teary-eyed. We reached for each other at the same time, hugged and said, “I love you!” I said, “Thanks for everything. I’ll be in touch soon.” A few steps away, I stopped, swallowed hard, blinked back tears that were trying to fill my eyes; and then ran back and we hugged again.

Saying good-bye to someone you love is hard!

Next: Going Home

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day Four~Monday

I could have slept all day. Still tired, I forced myself to get up at 8:30~ a time that doesn’t exist for me when I’m at home. I wanted to make the most of my last day with Carol.

As I was making my bed, she knocked on my door, “Are you up?” 

I opened the door, threw both arms in the air and faked a big smile. We both giggled. 

“Coffee’s ready,” she said.

Off to the kitchen I went, still in my pajamas. She was in hers, too. It was raining. How apropos, after we’d decided to make this our “stay at home day!”  What could be better than a rainy day? There would be no rushing, no make-up, no deciding what to wear – just sheer relaxation and enjoying each other’s company.

It may not sound exciting, but it was a wonderful day! We had a leisurely breakfast, and then sat on the sofa talking about everything we could think of – past and present. We watched the video of Herb again, both of us teary-eyed. We discussed our families in depth... and Carol explained her feelings for Dave. I hadn’t told her how I felt about the relationship, but we could never keep secrets from each other. She knew. And she wanted me to approve.

I had made friends with Teddy, her cute little Shih Tzu, and spent some time petting him and taking pictures - for which he willingly posed.

The day evaporated. Raindrops steadily splattered the pool for hours as we talked, and soon it was dinner time. We weren’t hungry, but decided to have a light dinner, take our baths and then wind the day up by watching a couple of videos of musicians that we enjoyed in our youth.

We loved the old music, which brought back a lot of memories. It was late when we finished watching the videos, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to say good-night, so we talked for at least another hour while savoring a big bowl of cherry ice cream with chunks of chocolate in it. Scrumptious!

When she’d gone to bed, I did some packing and read for a while. Although I knew tomorrow would be long and tiring, I didn’t want to go to sleep. I was painfully aware that when I awakened, it would be just a few hours before we'd have to leave for the airport and say, "Good-bye."

Sometime between 3:30 and 4 a.m., I fell asleep.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day Three ~ Sunday

Another beautiful day!

Church was at 9:15 a.m.  Dave, Carol’s new friend, picked us up at 9 o’clock. This was difficult for me. I’m a sleepy-head and used to church at eleven, but we made it even after stopping to pick up another of Carol’s friends – her hairdresser.

The church she attends is called His Place Ministries. It is a multifaceted outreach ministry which offers hope and healing to the hurting and wounded from all walks of life. They provide a weekly Sunday dinner and fellowship for those in need and a Cold Night Shelter open to all who need a hot meal and a warm place to sleep any night of the year when the temperature drops below 45°. I was impressed with the good work this church does.

We went to lunch with a group of Carol’s friends. It seems this is their usual Sunday routine. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Carol definitely blooms where she’s planted!

After lunch, we said our good-byes to her friends and Dave dropped us off at Carol’s. He went to his house to start fixing dinner for us. I forgot to mention that he is Italian and a good cook! We rested a little while and then went to a shopping mall. It was 90° and my sunburn was hurting! I wasn’t enjoying myself much, since I am a “cold weather” girl, but I faked it and we hit a lot of stores. Like most women, we had fun turning over the merchandise even though the only thing that was bought was a watch that Carol thought she couldn’t live without. However, before I left on Tuesday, she had decided she could live without it after all and planned to return it. You men out there are probably shaking your heads. You just have to understand – it’s a “woman thing.”

When we were sufficiently fatigued, Carol called Dave and told him we were on our way to his house. When we got there, he was in the kitchen, of course. He has a huge house with an eight-car garage. He is a collector of old cars. I took pictures of some of them, though the only name I remember is a 1947 Lincoln Zephyr.

Dinner was good: Penne Pasta with a sauce that I can’t remember the name of or pronounce. Also, a salad, garlic bread, iced tea and cheesecake with pistachio ice cream for dessert. It was all very good!

Dave wouldn’t hear of us helping with the cleanup, so after visiting a short while, we thanked him for a wonderful dinner and headed for Carol’s. It had been a long day. We were both exhausted and ready to turn in early.

It seemed we had been on the go every day and, knowing my time was almost up, I really wanted the two of us to just sit and talk a long while without interruption. I said, “Do we have to do anything tomorrow?”
Thankfully, she said, “No.” So we agreed we’d sleep in and spend my last day doing only what pleased us.

I turned out the light beside my bed. Lying there in the dark, I was thankful for the nice day we’d had, but looking forward to a restful tomorrow.

Next: Day Four

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day Two ~ Saturday

Up early again. Who can sleep when so much is waiting to happen? Temps in the high 80’s. Breakfast by the pool in our pjs. Muffins, fruit, juice, coffee, and delightful conversation. Carol and I never tire of this breakfast or talking on and on about things we used to do and people we used to know. Sometimes, we even move on to the present, and talk about what’s going on in our lives now. That can be pleasant, too. Or not.

Carol has met a man. She likes him more than a little and he likes her, too. What can I say? If it gets any more serious than it already is, things will never be the same. We met our husbands about the same time in our lives, when we were very young. With her husband, Herb, gone, it’s like a spoke is missing from our wheel. He was one of us; this man is different. I don’t accept change easily, but it is not up to me, is it? I love Carol like a sister and if she can love this new man, I must at least try to like him. And I will. Try.

After breakfast, we donned our straw hats and headed for the beach again. We must have walked at least a mile watching sandpipers play in the surf and taking pictures. I got sunburned. Heading back to her house, hot and tired, we discussed what we’d do this evening. 

We had lunch, then a little rest before bathing and getting ready to go visit some of her children. Her daughter, Jena, had invited us to her house to watch what was predicted to be a lovely sunset. She lives on Merritt Island, which is also home to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, a major tourist attraction and launching point for NASA shuttles.

Jena brought finger foods and drinks to the dock where we sat on benches, talking, eating and waiting for the big show. I had my camera ready to take pictures when it was time. Jena had other guests, too. Nice people. I was asked to sign books, and was flattered.

The sunset was worth the wait. Spectacular!

We finally said our good-byes, complete with hugs all around, and left. Carol’s son, Greg, was expecting a visit from us also. On the way, we picked up pizza, which we enjoyed by the pool with Greg and his son, Matthew. This was also a nice visit. Carol has a very gracious family!

We arrived at her house pleasantly tired, got into our pajamas and sat for a while in the TV room, then went to bed early so we could get up early for church and another big day.

Tomorrow: Day three.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day One ~ Friday

 Up early. A perfect day! Sunny. 84 degrees. Breezy. Carol and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast by the pool that consisted of muffins, assorted fruit: watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, grapes, blueberries and bananas, orange/mango juice and plenty of coffee. What a life! I could get used to this.

After eating, savoring our coffee and chatting about everything we could think of, we got ready to head for the beach and a long walk. Carol found a couple of straw hats in her closet, pitched one to me, and plopped another on her head. With the addition of sunglasses, we were out the door and on our way... cameras in hand.



At the beach, the hot sand was almost more than our bare feet could stand and we hurried to the water’s edge. As waves rolled in and collapsed on the sand, splashing us too liberally at times, we enjoyed walking in the foamy water, our feet sinking into the wet sand. It amused us to watch sandpipers trying to outsmart the incoming tide. One little bird, in particular, would walk as far as he could toward the water as it receded, and then run as fast as he could when he saw it coming back in. It was so cute! Most of the time, he made it to safety before the water reached him, but a few times, we laughed when he misjudged the speed of the incoming water and it caught up with him, wetting him thoroughly before he could run or fly away.

I’m usually very afraid of birds but the sandpipers didn’t seem too threatening. Although I’ll have to admit that the bigger birds gave me the shivers when they flew very close.

After an hour or so in the surf and snapping a few pictures, we were ready to head back for some lunch and iced tea by the pool – then a little rest before cleaning up for dinner.

Dinner was at a place advertised as: “Long Doggers Radically Relaxed Grill and Brew – where you can enjoy great food and great fun in a totally casual environment.” Though it looked like a little “hole in the wall,” it was a very popular place to eat. We had to wait about twenty minutes for a table and finally got one outside. It was worth the wait. We totally enjoyed the food, the ambiance and spending time together.

Back at Carol’s, we got into our PJs and met in the TV room to watch a video of her husband’s life made by one of her grandchildren. It was a bittersweet sensation to watch the life of these two people who had been my friends for many years, and it saddened me to know that, though they were always together, Carol would be going the rest of the way without Herb. We shed a few tears watching that video together.

Finally, we hugged, said, “Good Night,” and were off to our respective bedrooms... turning the page on the first day we’d spent together in a number of years, but looking forward to tomorrow.

Tomorrow: Day two

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Beginning~

It wasn’t a good beginning. Even before I was off the ground, things were going wrong. I was still at Yeager Airport when the heel on my shoe broke. It wasn’t completely off – just hanging. And flopping. When I walked, it made a flippity-floppity noise that caused everyone to turn to see what was making such a racket. But with my head held high, I sashayed along as if it were perfectly normal to sound like that. After “Security” was finished with me, I hurried to the gift shop and inquired as to whether they had any glue or tape that might fix my shoe temporarily. Against my better judgment, I purchased a tube of super glue. Never liked the stuff! My manual dexterity not the best, I could just imagine gluing my fingers together or worse. 

But I was desperate! I knew that in less than two hours, I'd have to deal with the big, bad Orlando Airport, walk a long distance, get on and off a tram that would deliver me to the main building where I would find Baggage Claim and do just that: claim the large red suitcase that had accompanied me on many trips.

I sat down, took off my shoe and was attempting to open the tube of glue when I heard the announcement that it was time to board the plane. Throwing the glue into my purse and placing the shoe back on my foot, off I went, reluctantly, to get on the big blue plane. I vowed to fix the shoe in flight, but it was too crowded; no elbow room. Besides, I had to concentrate on praying for a safe trip. That was much more important!

I must have looked at my watch two dozen times, maybe more, in that one hour and fifty minute flight. At times, I was sure the hands on the time piece weren’t moving. We encountered turbulence several times. And I prayed.

Finally, the flight attendants came around with a little snack: Gourmet pretzels and your choice of beverage. That distracted me for a few minutes and calmed my upset stomach a little, but soon there was more turbulence. And I prayed. There were 117 passengers on the plane; why was I the only one who seemed uneasy?

It was music to my ears when the pilot made his announcement that we would be landing at the Orlando Airport in about fifteen minutes. Now I prayed for a safe landing.

Finally on the ground, I retrieved my carry-on from the overhead compartment and waited my turn to get out of the tight space that had me feeling a little claustrophobic. 

At home, when I had expressed concern about negotiating Orlando’s airport, my husband had said, “Just follow everyone else; they’ll all be going to Baggage Claim.” That seemed simple enough then, but something went wrong. By the time I was off the plane and into the building, I couldn’t see anyone I recognized. Where had they all gone so fast? Everyone seems to be in such a hurry when they’re traveling!

I didn’t know whether to go right or left. Looking around, I saw a lady in a uniform. I went over and told her that I wanted to go to Baggage Claim and didn’t have a clue which way to go. She pointed to the right and said that’s where I would get on the tram that would take me to the main building.

My broken heel still clickity-clacking, I hurried in the direction she had pointed and realized that’s where everyone else was – waiting for the next tram. They had apparently walked faster than I.

After I was off the tram, it was simple to follow the Baggage Claim signs and just as I was beginning to feel confident, I saw my friend, Carol. It was so nice to see her. We hugged, shed a few tears, and started the old familiar chattering right away.

An hour later, we arrived at her house, enjoyed cold meatloaf sandwiches, potato salad and iced tea. And that was just the beginning of our wonderful four days together!

Tomorrow: Day one.