Thursday, February 19, 2009

On the Road Again

Their first flight was at three weeks, they slept the entire time. After that, flying was easy. Dallas, Boston, Phoenix, Ireland, Philadelphia, Denver, Puerto Vallarta, for two years, two glorious years we flew wherever we wanted, with little effort and little discomfort. And then it happened, vomit. Once, twice, three times, every time, one of our frequent flyers had developed a horrid aversion to air travel.

Last February we went on hiatus, our flying days over until someone either outgrew this affliction or grew old enough to be heavily medicated for the entire flight. It's been one year, with medication not a possibility for another 19 months, and a real need to feel something other than 23 degrees when we step outside, we are driving to Dallas. My husband is convinced I have lost my mind, and possibly I have, but my 96 year old grandmother is there, and not doing well, so I find it a necessity to get down there and see her, before we regret not making the drive.

For the first 525 miles it's just me and the girls; Jack having a must attend event in New York next week, and so Mary and Kate and I head off, through Iowa, to find Uncle Kenny and Uncle Ed nine hours later, greeting us with open arms, adult conversation, and perhaps a glass of wine. For the past week I've been stocking the car activity box: sticker books, coloring books, actual reading books, doodle pads, paper dolls, lacing cards, more than any four year old could plow through in nine hours of absolute sitting still time. They actually do very well, we sing, we talk, we moo through Iowa, one sleeps, the other stares out the window, and a short full day later, we arrive in Kansas City, exhausted, but ready for a few days of wild Uncle fun.

And then we pack up and head off for another day long car adventure, this time with Jack, to find warmth and sun and grandmother love. At four, they are old enough to remember her, my own great grandmother died when I was four and I have bits and pieces of her in my memory, sitting in her red chair on the front porch listening to baseball on the radio, running to her room through the secret closet, her clunky old lady shoes with the laces, and then quite clearly, the day she died. And while Mary and Kate have not spent the time with their great grandmother that I did with mine, they too will have fragments of her in their memories, and many pictures to keep forever, to make those memories even more real than perhaps they ever were.

But first, 18 hours of the Mary Poppins soundtrack, 1,000 miles of highway bingo, and two full days of public restrooms. We are 19 months from flying, but only a few days from Dallas, and a reminder that life is short, even if you are lucky enough to make it last for 96 years.

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