Friday, July 31, 2009

The Most Fun, Sad Road Trip

When Nana died, on July 12th, I was already scheduled to fly to Florida on July 15th. I had been planning for months to spend her birthday (July 18th) with her and then fly to Dallas for the annual Mary Kay Seminar (July 21st - 25th). What I had not counted on, obviously, was that Nana would die 6 days before her birthday. Immediately, it became obvious to Mom, Dave, and me that the best way to celebrate Nana was to have her Celebration of Life Service in Crystal Beach, Florida (where she had lived since 1956) on her birthday and then fly her to Batesville, Mississippi, where she was from and had always planned to be buried.

Services were scheduled in Batesville for Tuesday, July 21st and everything seemed to have fallen into place perfectly. I'd get to Dallas on Wednesday the 22nd, the day I really needed to be there and wouldn't have to miss any of the fun or any of Nana's services. That is until I called American Airlines to add in this one little stop in Memphis (the nearest airport to Batesville).

American informed me that to add a quick 24-36 hours in Batesville via Memphis and then on to Dallas would cost me an ADDITIONAL $1100 PLUS $150 to change my ticket. Ugh. I had bought trip insurance, but it wouldn't come close to covering this.

Quickly, I resigned myself to the fact that I couldn't be there to bury Nana. That is until I spoke with my cousin Elesha in Dallas. She had the brilliant idea to change the Dallas leg of my trip and fly in, not on Tuesday, but on Sunday the 19th and she would drive me to Batesville and back all in time for my Mary Kay event. This wasn't some quick Sunday afternoon drive. Batesville is almost 9 hours each way from Dallas. This was HUGE. I argued for a second, but only a second, and then I called American. For only $300, I was able to change my arrival in Dallas and I'd be able to go to Batesville. Wow. (Elesha's grandmother and my Nana are sisters and in addition to attending Nana's service, Elesha also wanted to see her grandmother who's no spring chicken herself.)

I flew into Dallas on Sunday afternoon, and bright and early Monday morning, Elesha and I piled her two kids - ages 7 and 4 - into her car and off we went. Now, I drive to Watervale all the time. But that's only 6 hours max. And I've driven back and forth to DC (12 hours) plenty of times, but it's been almost a decade since I've done that and I never did it with kids. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect.

But her kids were amazing. Sure, they had their moments, but there weren't any meltdowns or major fights. We heard a couple "I gotta go to the bathroom's" and "I'm bored," but all in all, the kids got an A+ for their behavior. I was mighty impressed. That got Elesha and me to talking about road trips when we were kids.

Today's kids have DVD players in the backseat with a library of movies. We had License Plate Bingo. Today's kids have air conditioning they can personalize for their seat to stay cool and comfortable. We hoped our brother didn't fart in our face. Today's kids have roadside oases with every fast food restaurant they can imagine. We had Stuckey's with cardboard "food" if we were getting a treat. Otherwise, we had picnics that consisted of warm, but homemade fried chicken and potato salad made three days earlier. Today's kids have 6-disc CD changers in the car. We had AM Radio. Maybe. Today's kids can count on clean bathrooms. We carried on old coffee can that the whole family used in the car as we were driving down the highway. (I swear I am not making that up). Today's kids have Nintendo DS's that talk to each other. We entertained ourselves by motioning to the truckers to blow their horns. Today's kids have individual car seats. We didn't use seatbelts, slept in the back window or on the floor, and were constantly whining "Mom! He's on my half on the backseat!" Today's kids are well behaved and don't fray their parents' last nerves. We had Mom yelling "If you don't stop that right now, I'm going to turn this car around!" and "Don't make me come back there!"

Now, of course, I still counted the number of Waffle Houses (11) and Stuckey's (1) we saw, but some things never change, no matter how old we get and I did it more out of curiosity than anything else. For the record, we didn't stop at either.

Reminiscing made us laugh a lot, which I desperately needed. Even though it was for a sad reason, I had a blast with Elesha and her adorable children. She's a great mom, a great cousin, and an awesome friend. I can't believe I thought for one second I wouldn't go to Nana's burial and I'm eternally grateful that she made it possible for me to attend.

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