Good News or Bad News first? Bad news you say? Okay.
I’d rather be poked in the eye with a sharp stick than sit at an airport for 5 ½ hours…..TWICE!
I’ll try to be as clear and concise as possible. IT SUCKS!!
There’s a reason why I don’t travel much, and it couldn’t have been made more clear than this latest trip to my daughter Julie’s for the Christmas holiday. The only shred of sanity that kept me going was the ‘pot of gold’ waiting at the end of the rainbow….spending time with my kids and grandkids. It’s amazing the level of frustration one will endure for the chance at that sweet pot; and thank God it was all worth it.
My daughter, Jenna and I left Chicago’s O’Hare Airport that Sunday afternoon under some pretty suspect weather conditions. Extremely cold and icy weather and strong, gusty winds….just short of tornado standards, was the menu of the day. Yes sir, just the kind of weather I want to be flying around in an airplane in. Hell, they even had to de-ice the wings of our bird before we could take off….a view I watched intermittently right outside my window.
Ah, take-off. Now that seemed to be the keyword of the day. It would suggest that one would actually be leaving the ground en route to another destination. Oh believe me, there was some concern that it might not happen.
We could have made the fatal mistake of just showing up at the airport in plenty of time for our scheduled departure. Does anyone do that anymore? As luck would have it….and my dislike for hanging around airports, I called my handy American Airlines 800 number four or five times from home to see if our flight was leaving on time. Each time I called they added at least a half hour to our departure time with the explanation that they didn’t have an aircraft available yet. WHOA…that’s kind of an important detail to be missing. When I finally got the same departure time three times in a row, we were on our way to O’Hare. Oh, if only it were that easy. What made me think it would be smooth sailing from there on out? Naivete?? Stupidity? Both?
We had two gate changes and three more delays. By the end of the day we rolled into Julie’s driveway some 4 ½ - 5 hours later than planned. My daughter, Jory and her husband, Jesse, had it even worse than us....coming from California. They had a layover in Texas and were literally in an airport or on an airplane for 16 hours or more. Needless to say, our travel mishaps put a big damper on our first day together.
The trip back home was just as frustrating with a four hour delay and one gate change. It seems there were some mechanical problems that couldn’t be easily remedied and we had to wait for a new plane. At one point they were issuing ‘free food’ vouchers and giving people the option of going ‘stand-by’ on a rival airline that might leave an hour or two earlier. Now THAT seems like a bad day in “Airlineville” to me….but you should have seen the line of people who took them up on it. With no guarantees that this option would be any better, Jen and I stayed put and waited out the 4 hours.
The flight was smooth and uneventful…something we were all hoping for by that time of night. When I limped through the front door at about 12:30 a.m., my tired and achy body couldn’t fall into bed fast enough. I could still hear those ridiculous garbled airport messages in my head as I hit the pillow.
I found out the next day that Jory and Jesse had it worse than us again....arriving at home at around 3:30 a.m (my time) after sitting in an airplane on the runway at O’Hare for several hours. (layover….again) I think I’d go friggin’ crazy sitting on an airplane going nowhere for that long.
Well, that little recap was good therapy. Now let’s concentrate on the Good News…..
Well, except for Jenna slipping on Julie’s wooden staircase the day after Christmas and bouncing down a few stairs on her butt. We’re pretty sure she has a bruised tailbone, but she’s a trooper; and with a good attitude and some ibuprofen, she managed okay. Besides, Bastian thought she was the best thing since sliced bread…and that will keep Jenna going forever.
As a matter of fact, we all had such a good time with Bella and Bastian that we actually opted to rise at ungodly early hours every morning when we first heard him go downstairs with Mommy or Daddy. He was addictive. I just loved to sit and watch and listen to everything he said and did.
“Da ball, da ball” …..as he whipped any number of toy balls past our heads.
Then there was the delightful and often hysterical antics of 4-year-old Bella. What a card that child is. She was in rare form and chatted with all of us about everything….school, friends, movies.
Bella doesn’t always volunteer to just chat about these things…..only if the time and tides are right….and she’s in the mood. Julie was enjoying it as much as we were. We never did get to some of the things Bella had on her “to do” list; like having a tea party with her new tea set and polishing and putting decals on all of our fingernails.
What with presents to play with, gingerbread cookies to make, and movies to watch…a girl can pack only so much in a day. She’s presently working on being a female Harry Potter. She already has the hat.
It was a wonderful five days together. We had great, long conversations, played scrabble, watched movies, and devoured good food and every moment we could with Bella and Bastian. Aunt Jory and Aunt Jenna were recruited for bedtime stories...and happily accepted.
And for anyone wondering….’Stoney’ never intruded in my fun. I may have had my normal aches and pains, but Stoney didn’t contribute to them. I still don't know what his plans are.
Christmas dinner was the biggest standing rib roast any of us had ever seen. Jesse prepared it, and it was beyond delicious. With dishes by Jory, Julie and Chris…and dessert by Jenna, dinner was perfect and supplied us with a couple of days of great leftovers.
The day was just what I’d hoped for. All of us together in love and laughter, merriment and memories. At one point I took a quiet moment to call my son, Joe, who wasn’t able to join us. He was the only link missing from our family chain….he….and his dad. They both would have loved that beef roast... and tossing the ball back and forth with ‘our little guy.’