Sunday, August 29, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

This is a retelling of my posts during our trip to Michigan this summer. Some things have been added after the fact for emphasis or explanation. Those things appear in italics.


July 8, 2010:

We're leaving Fort Worth eastbound on the Texas Eagle. Already had lunch in the dining car and fixin' to take a nap in our sleeper car. Next stops - Dallas, Texarkana and Little Rock. CHOO CHOOOOOOOOOO! We boarded the Amtrak Texas Eagle in Temple at 11:30 this morning. Now we are about 30 minutes east of Forney in the middle of northeast Texas heading for Texarkana. Next stop - Minneola, TX. Final destination - Jackson, Michigan by way of Chicago. We should get there around 11:00 PM tomorrow night. Wayne is playing on the iPad, Lyssie is watching a DVD and Ronnie is sound asleep. Dinner in the Dining Car at 6:30!!


July 9, 2010:

I'm enjoying the Illinois countryside. It's been rainy and overcast for most of the trip. We slept through most of Arkansas (best way to travel through there if you must!) and woke up just in time to pull into St. Louis and enjoy breakfast at the station. As Wayne was finishing the las tof his coffee, we left the station, passed the Arch and crossed over the mighty Mississippi River. I feel like such a voyeur peering into people's back yards as we cruise by on the train. There is a lot in our backyards that most people don't see that says a lot about who we REALLY are.


Hello, Auburn IL..... Goodbye, Auburn IL. Next stop Springfield! 


We just passed by the Illinois State Capitol. What a beautiful building! Wish we had time to get off the train and go look, but alas... the trains are on time! Less than 4 hours to Chicago!  


 We made it into Chicago right on schedule (when was the last time an airline could say that?) and headed for the Willis Tower on Wacker Drive. (I love that street!) Then back to Union Station for an early dinner. Now we are safely on board the Wolverine headed for the Eastern Daylight Savings Time Zone. 


Hello, Gary! Or should you change your name to "Rusty?" (I'm speaking of Indiana, not Minix... although I hear he's getting a little old and rusty, too. Birthdays suck, Gare! I have one myself next week!!) 


Two trains, a trip to Sears Tower, and 36 hours later, and I am finally enjoying free Wi-Fi at the Baymont Inn in beautiful Jackson, Michigan. Saw Dad when we dropped Aunty Ruth back off. He looked good. Mom spent the evening with a hospice volunteer while he took Aunty Ruth out to dinner with Bro & Mo (my brother Brad... and his wife Moreen), so she was already asleep. She sounded awful when I called from Chicago. 


July 10, 2010: 

I just had the BEST club sandwich on earth at the Hudson Grill!! Buttery grilled sourdough piled high with turkey and crisp bacon. I highly recommend it if you're in the area!! Now on to Grandma and Grampie's! 


Today did not go well. I feel so inadequate as a daughter, like a stranger in the house I grew up in, and totally unequipped to deal with the end of someone else's life, especially when that someone is my mother. In case there is any confusion... mom is still with us... she's just not doing very well.


July 11, 2010:

Today was better... Not for mom, but for me. I just sat with her and held her hand and told her that I love her while she rested. She is on a lot of morphine so she is pretty disoriented most of the time. Then this evening we met my cousins for pizza. The girls ate and played with Samantha and Tyler and Lily and Adam. And Uncle Dave was there. It was good to see everyone!!


July 12, 2010:

Today was a little better. The hospice nurse was there when we got there this afternoon. But Mom eventually settled down and was quite lucid. I sat with her while Dad went to the park with Wayne and the kids. I was expecting to sit there and just sit quietly and maybe sing hymns to her while she rested.. but she talked my ear off instead! I'm looking forward to tomorrow... it's Daddy's 79th birthday! I also got to have dinner and spend three hours talking with my best friend from my high school/college years. I love you, Sandy!


July 13, 2010:

[Dad's Birthday. Brad and Mo came out for a little bit . I could find an old boyfriend at Polly's but not a Bill Knapp's Birthday Cake, so we had shortcake and berries instead. As we got our things together to head back to the hotel, Wayne and the girls said their goodbyes and went out with Dad to the car to let me say mine alone. We sat there and talked for until 1:00 in the morning oblivious to the time or the fact that the girls had fallen asleep in the car waiting for me because I knew it would be the last chance I would ever have to talk to you face to face. I finally told you how much I longed to hear you tell ME how proud you were of me. I've heard you say things to other people, but you never came right out and told me. You would say thing like "You have a beautiful family" but you never said things like "You're a good mother." I know what I HAVE, what I'm unsure of is what I AM. I guess you thought I would understand that it was implied, but I yearned to hear you say it. I finally told you that all I ever wanted was that when you looked at me you saw that you did a good job. You looked at me with tears in your eyes and you said, "I did a MARVELOUS job!" That was the last thing you ever said to me. After 48 years together, that was all I ever needed to hear. Closure.]


July 14, 2010:

I'm sitting at the Kalamazoo station waiting for passengers to board. 142 miles from Detroit and 138 miles to Chicago. Dad dropped us off at 8:00 this morning. I hate the thought of leaving him there alone to care for Mom, but they both insisted that I go home as planned. I have this nagging feeling in my gut that I'm going to regret it. 


I am cruising along the Indiana Lakeshore and languishing in a wireless DEAD ZONE! It's bad when you get excited over ONE bar!


The girls enjoyed their first ride in a real yellow taxi. We can see the Sears Tower from our window and the Navy Pier is just a few blocks from our hotel. Lunch today at the Rainforest Cafe, then tonight... Who knows?! Maybe a sunset cruise on the Chicago River and fireworks at the Pier? 


Now I am enjoying the perfect end of a great day... Watching HGTV from my comfy bed at the Hilton Garden Inn on the Magnificent Mile, after swimming in the hotel pool, then a great walking tour of downtown Chicago, dinner along the Riverwalk, a cruise of the Chicago River, watching Fireworks out over Lake Michigan, making new friends on the boat, and strolling down Michigan Avenue back to our hotel.


July 15, 2010:

I'm trying to drag everyone out of bed... Come on, people!! So much Chicago! So little time!!!


Navy Pier -- check. Giant Ferris Wheel -- check. A great time watching the girls play in the fountain at the Navy Pier -- check. The girls' first ride on a trolley -- check. Hard Rock Cafe for lunch -- check. Dressed and ready to go to the hotel pool again -- check. Dinner at the Weber Grill Steakhouse tonight -- I can't wait!


My tummy is full of filet mignon and garlic shrimp and ready for a good night's sleep. Packing in the morning and off to Union Station for a 1:45 train to worlds southern. 


July 16, 2010: 

We're all packed up and ready to head to the train station. My next post will be from a southbound train! CHOO CHOOOOOOO!


We made it out of Chicago and are now approaching Pontiac, Illinois. We called Dad just as we were leaving the station (no signal at the station as all the tracks terminate UNDER the building). Mom had a really rough night. She was unresponsive when Dad tried to wake her this morning. She's doing better now, but we have an exit plan if I have to get off in St. Louis, Little Rock or Dallas and get on a plane home.


We just finished dinner in Springfield and are about to stop in Alton, IL. Our girls are bickering and the boys in the next cabin are as well. We're conspiring with their mother to put all four of them in the family cabin together and lock the door so the grown-ups can have some peace and quiet!



July 17, 2010 (my 48th Birthday):

We made it past St. Louis and Little Rock without having to get off. Wondering now how Mom fared the night but too early to call Dad hoping he's sleeping. Just passed Atlanta, Texas.... so good to be back on Texas soil!!


We had breakfast in Longview, Texas. Made friends with folks from Austin and San Antonio. We are all on our way back to our respective homes. Called Dad, Mom is not doing well. I will likely be flying back to Michigan as soon as we get back.


We're in Fort Worth fixin' to head south to the homeland. Had a Cinnabon from Union Station for my birthday cake. A day old and still pretty awesome! Now it's time for a Diet Coke and a nap.


We're  approaching Moody, TX. Next stop - McGregor, then Temple which is where we get off. So if you've ever wanted to say to me, "Julie! Where do you get off...." now you know... it's Temple! (BTW: No more word from Dad. We'll call him when we get home. I'm hoping no news is good news... or even just no news is no news.)


Wayne called Dad when we got home. Mom has slipped into a coma. I am scheduled on the 0750 flight out of Killeen tomorrow morning to Detroit. I knew I should have gotten off the train at St. Louis and flown home (or better yet, just gotten on that daggone Wolverine and headed back to Jackson instead of Texas). Please pray she holds on until I get there, for travel mercies for me, for Wayne and the kids while I'm gone.


[Happy {expletive deleted} Birthday to me.]


July 18, 2010:

I'm sitting in the Killeen Airport with two sleepy girls and a dreary husband waiting for my flight to Detroit via Dallas/Ft. Worth. Talk about your de ja vu all over again. 


I'm in Dallas waiting for my flight to Detroit. How many times have I taken the DFW to DTW? Seems like hundreds over the last 12 years, but this is the first time by myself. Hard to believe we were just in Dallas yesterday. Even if it was only for four hours, at least I got to sleep in my own bed. Just texted Wayne... Sorry, Pastor Mark! I hope he had it on vibrate!!


I'm now somewhere over Missouri according to my GPS. Inflight Wi-Fi is incredible. I miss Wayne and the girls already.


[While I was in mid-air somewhere over Missouri on the flight to Detroit I was "facebooking" and posting about heading back to Michigan. My friend, Sandy, happened to see my post and asked how I was getting home from the airport. I said I was going to rent a car, "unless you want to come pick me up??" She dropped everything, hopped in her car and was at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport before my plane even hit the tarmac. Now that's what I call friends! I'm still waiting to see her in the beaver ski cap I bought her in the airport gift shop though.]


I have the best friends in the world!!!! Thank you, Jesus! I made it home around 4-ish with the help of my dear sweet friend, Sandy (I'm waiting for the picture of the beaver hat? I expect it to be the focal point of your next cabaret show!). I spent the afternoon singing hymns to Mom and making jokes to which she would groan. Not sure if it was involuntary or she was trying to tell me to SHUT UP ALREADY!


July 19, 2010:

I just walked away from the Movie Of The Week that has become my life to have a few moments of "normal" listening to Muzak show tunes and enjoying free WiFi at McDonald's on East Michigan Ave. Wayne and the girls will be here tomorrow. I will go home here in a few minutes to continue sitting vigil at Mom's bedside. It's really starting to wear on Dad. Pastor Mason came out today, but it's just not the same as Pastor Mark!


July 20, 2010:

God called Mom home to be with Him this morning around 2:00 a.m. Dad and I were with her and she went very peacefully.  It is well with my soul. It is well with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul.


July 21, 2010: 

I had a good day today. We went shopping for funeral clothes and walked out with something for everyone... BUT ME! I guess all the fat chicks I saw at the mall are from out of town because there were NO plus-size dresses anywhere in that mall. We came home and went for a swim then dinner at Applebees where we had the funniest waiter EVER. We love you, Nikki!


[While we were at JC Penney's we happened across a couple also shopping, and they both looked familiar to me. We started chatting and I learned that he used to work for one of the local funeral homes. How ironic, I said, because we were there shopping for funeral clothes because my mother had just passed away. The woman looked so familiar to me, and I looked familiar to her, so I asked the obvious question, "Where do you work?" She is a teacher at East Jackson Public Schools. Oh really? My mother taught at East Jackson over 4 decades. Who is your mother? Vera Horsford. (silence) Her jaw hit the floor.  She had been in  Fourth Dimension and she remembered me coming in my nun's habit from The Sound of Music and performing for them when I was in high school. She was AT the funeral, Mom.]


July 22, 2010: 

The boys went to breakfast at Barb's, the girls are playing in the yard. Carol is doing my hair this afternoon and the kids are having a play-date with their cousins at the park. We meet with Pastor Michael at 3:00 to tell him stories about Mom. So far we are all holding up pretty well. I'm sure it will all hit us in a few days after the dust settles.


July 23, 2010:

Visitation is today from 4-8 pm. Getting nails done from 10:30-12 pm. Trying to decide what to wear from 12-4 pm.


My head is spinning from all the stories of my mom running through my head. What a rich and blessed life she had to have so many people love her. That I would leave one-tenth the legacy that she has... but if my children know and love the Lord, that is enough for me. One down and one on the brink. Life is good.


Veronica and I were standing at the casket and she leaned over to me and whispered "Why isn't Nanna moving?" So I explained to her about heaven and our spirits and what happens when we die. She looked up at me with those big blue eyes and said, "Okay" and skipped away like a typical four-year-old. I want to live with the wisdom of a 48-year-old but the sweet innocence of a four-year-old!


[Did I mention that there was a roaring thunderstorm going on during your visitation? With about an hour and a half left, lightning cracked just outside the funeral home and off went the power. We stood there for the rest of the evening by the light of candles and numerous cell phones. The power remained off until Consumers Power finally got it turned back on right about the time the funeral was set to start. By that time they had already moved you to Cornerstone Church and we had the service there. I guess God wanted your funeral to be in the church whether you wanted it there or not!]


July 24, 2010:

What a party it turned out to be... best one Mom ever threw and she wasn't even there. And only Mom would play the piano for her own funeral. It was a beautiful affair, the music, the flowers, the speakers... Mom would have loved it. Bon Voyage and save me a good seat up front!


July 25, 2010:

Last night we got POUNDED again by a thunderstorm. I'm surprised we didn't lose power. Some of that lightning hit pretty darn close! Off to pry the kids out of bed and head to church to hear an old old OLD friend preach. (Don't worry Mark. We'd never leave you!)


We're packing up and getting ready to head for home. Wayne flies out tomorrow afternoon and the girls and I fly out EARLY Tuesday morning. I don't even want to think about the logistics of flying out of DTW at 7 AM when you're starting from Jackson. UGH! But I have to go home some time.


I'm wondering what my friends will do when I get home and have no more travels to write about.


July 27, 2010:

We're on the plane headed for sacred Texas soil! It feels like I have been gone an eternity. Elysse is drinking a Sierra Mist and already missing the Disney Channel, Ronnie is sleeping, and I am pseudo-blogging on my iPad. I think I'll start the real thing tomorrow... By popular demand.


I'M  HOME!!!!!! 'Nuff said.


July 28, 2010:

For those of you concerned because you haven't heard from me in 17 hours.... I'm still home. I may go outside later. Another 6 hours and I'm still home with no plans to go anywhere til tomorrow. I did, however, go outside for a while. Alert the media!

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