Thursday, October 13, 2005

Trip Reflections

++Next time I fly with two people in their 80’s I’m taking Paul with me. The logistics of getting the three of us and our luggage from Point A to Point B, getting boarding passes, wheelchairs, and rental cars, and keeping track of a dad who is Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, were really difficult.

++Worst: I pulled up with the rental car at MSP and discovered that I couldn’t do curbside check-in, so made a quick decision to park Mom, Dad, and the luggage just inside the terminal, return the car, and then come back to check us in. "But you can’t leave your car unattended, even for a little bit," the check-in guy said. What to do?? I couldn’t just send Mom and Dad inside, and the car return was far away and very inconvenient to get to. So I asked him if he could pleeeeeeeeze watch my car for one minute and I hustled the folks inside as fast as they can hustle, which is pretty slowly. Then I was hollering in Dutch that they are to STAY HERE and I’ll be back soon. Both of them were kind of staring off into space and not catching on, and the guy comes running in—"You have to come right now, they’re out there tagging your car already." I desperately hollered, "BLEIVET DO!!" and dashed back out, just in time.

++Northwest Airlines is not nice. Not at all. "No, we cannot have anyone help you with your luggage." "No, we cannot offer assistance to your mother until she is past security." "Oh, bud I cannod bding a wheelchaih until you have youh boading passes." "Your ticket cannot be processed electronically. Please proceed to another ticket counter." Once I got hold of a person who was both alive and helpful, things went better.

++My folks are so deaf. Oh my. We were driving home on Tuesday and I needed my sunglasses which were in my carryon in the back seat beside Dad. I took a deep breath—
No answer.
Repeat request.
"What? You need a bag?"
"What color is it?"

++They are also losing their vision, which means that Mom’s glasses in the cupboard are dirty and she sets the supper dishes on the bar even though there’s a dead fly lying there. But she absolutely does not want help cleaning. I don’t know what to do.

++But really, for being 85 and 89 they are doing very well, taking their meds, paying the bills, and feeding the animals. And we got through the week with no dizzy spells, no heart spasms, and no nosebleeds beyond the horrific one Dad had before we left their house.

++My new little nephew is absolutely the cutest thing. I love babies. And I told his mom, my sis Margaret, that she must have filled out a different order form than I did because that baby never fusses and cries. Just a grunt now and then, unlike my scream-for-hours babies.

++My niece is very cute and tough as nails. Mercy. She falls, bumps her head, whatever, and jumps up without a whimper…

++…Unlike her big brother, who has a form of brittle bone disease and has his arm in a cast again. Poor kid. He does the normal boy stuff and suffers horribly for it. He is also very earnest and articulate, holding forth knowledgeably on such topics as excavators and who is pregnant.

++The wedding was beautiful and romantic. Thankfully none of us are superstitious about the weather affecting the happiness of the marriage because it poured rain the day of the wedding. Well, the day before too, making one of the roughest landings I’ve ever had. Driving to the wedding, we plowed through streams of water flowing along and over the country roads. The car parkers rushed around in raincoats and many of the guests showed up wet. It was the outer remnant of tropical storm Tammy, I was told.

++Marcus looked very handsome and proud walking Annette up the aisle. He said, "This is not something our church has done, traditionally, but I’d recommend it to anyone."

++Amy told me Annette and Jay’s engagement story which I think is more romantic than all the signs on billboards and messages in plowed fields that modern couples do. A few months ago Annette noticed a strange line across her vision and went to her doctor. A detached retina, he said, which is quite serious and can lead to blindness. So she went in for surgery and they sliced in there and somehow stapled things back together.
Annette recuperated at Jay’s home. Unfortunately, she had a severe reaction to her pain medication. So, there she was, lying on Jay’s mom’s couch with half of her face puffy and purple, blood and pus oozing from her eye, and throwing up violently, over and over. And Jay, God bless him, chose that auspicious moment when she was at her worst to ask her to marry him. Aaawwwww. I like this guy.

++I also like Paul, who with the children’s help made and canned 18 quarts of applesauce while I was gone.

++We did a few touristy things on Monday, such as going into an old coal mine. No wonder the coal miners had a culture all their own. What a depressing, dark, claustrophobic, dangerous job, drilling into a mountain from deep underneath.

++The coal mine tour guide told Chad how to get around the roadblocks to get to Centralia, a nearly-obliterated town where an underground fire has been burning around the coal seams for over 40 years. It was surreal, relics of old houses and dead trees interspersed with puffs of smoke seeping out of the ground like the steam vents at Yellowstone. The government asked the people to evacuate some years ago, and bought their houses at fair value, but ten older folks have refused to leave. They are letting them stay, knowing the bad PR of going in there with guns blazing to force them out. The tour guide said that one old man told him that he has 35 guns and a month’s supply of ammunition, just in case.

++At Cabela’s, I felt transported back to our African safari when I saw the unbelievable display of lions, gazelles, and even an elephant, and at the North American display the big moose in a pool of water transported me back to Ontario.

++But really, does anyone need thousands and thousands of fishing poles to choose from?

++Byran’s girlfriend Amy is sweet, poised, cute, and many more fine adjectives.

++My daughter Amy is also lots of fine adjectives, and after seeing her conduct herself as she did, flying alone to and from, and helping Margaret like she did, I feel better about sending her overseas in two weeks.

++Paul had carefully coordinated our tickets so that Amy and I would both fly home yesterday and get to Portland about the same time. I was to go MSP/Denver/PDX and Amy was to go Philadelphia/Las Vegas/PDX. Unfortunately, Amy was several hours late leaving Philly because of control tower issues, and I was three hours late leaving Denver because the plane needed a sensor replaced. But we got to Portland within an hour of each other.

++But then we got delayed some more because the car wouldn’t start out in long-term parking because I had left an interior light on. Thanks to the big hairy guy who rescued me.

++It’s great to be home.

Quote of the Day:
"If you're sure you have enough money..."
--Austin, my 7-year-old nephew, very skeptically, when I offered to buy pizza for supper


  1. Thanks Father God for bringing Dorcas and Mom and Dad safely thru this adventure!

    glad you are home - give me a call!

  2. MSP is the airport I fly out of when I travel. It is ENORMOUS and a little overwhelming, I think. . . I too, find that too many aiport workers are not always very personable,helpful, or even polite. AmTrack was better.
    Sounds like you had an exhausting, but good, trip!

  3. OH HILVAS KNOTT!!!! Your story of the airport was making ME sweat!! Glad you got home safely. We missed ya.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. I loved your story about Hansey!

    From Sophia Gossard
    Age 8

    (P.S.,I have a feeling that I am leaving this comment at the wrong place but I hope this reaches you!)