When I left you, Ollie had just found out we were arriving a day earlier than she thought. “Yikes! I was going to clean house tomorrow.” She exclaimed.
I reassured her. “Go ahead, but I’m not helping. I’m on vacation.” None of us cleaned house. Instead, we drank coffee and told wild stories till time to go out to lunch every day, then shopped a little in the afternoons. I haven’t shopped since I retired, so I really enjoyed it. I even bought red pajamas. Next time I take a trip, my host can sing “She’ll Be Wearing Red Pajamas When She comes.”
We visited my uncle’s grave in the National Cemetery at Elgin, Oklahoma, a very reverent and fitting place for our service members and their spouses. (Pictured above. Shirley Martin and Ollie Johnson)
Regrettably, we had to leave after a short three days. I would have loved to stay a month, but Ollie got lucky. We had to get home for Christmas. I love travelling with women. dawdling over lunch and drinking all the tea I want. No one complains about stopping for the bathroom or worries about “making good time.” You can even stop at fruit stands or resale shops.
The last thing Mother said as she got off the train was, “Now I want to ride the train to San Antonio to see Ann.” So much for clearing her bucket list! I guess that’s how she made it to eighty-nine!
This battered beauty makes every mile with Mother. I will never forgive my daughter-in-law, Carissa, for gifting Mother with it when Mother complained her old one had worn out. I’d been looking forward to its demise for a while. Except for that betrayal, Carissa is a perfect DIL. Please note the frayed seams and the deluxe cat collar fortifying its temperamental zipper. Though lots of folks think it’s a fanny pack, Mother wears it prominently displayed in front where no one will catch her by surprise.
While we’re on the subject of money, when Mother told my brother she couldn’t afford her ticket, he put one hundred dollars in her account. One concerned sister gave her two hundred, enough for the trip and spending money. Lest you think that money went on her trip, it disappeared deep into the bowels of her savings account. Financially, that trip worked out really well for her.
The three of us caught the train in Marshall, Texas, unaware the price of the shuttle from the Shreveport Airport seven miles from home was included in the ticket. You can be sure we caught the shuttle on the way home, sparing Bud the return drive for pickup. Mother was as excited as a kid at Christmas as we boarded Amtrak. We found seats on the second floor of the coach. They were spacious and comfortable, a delight after air travel. Mother made fast friends with the conductor. We spent a great portion of our ride in the lounge car. I highly recommend it.
During our four-hour layover in Fort Worth, we had time for a leisurely lunch downtown When the eager waiter whisked her leftover chicken salad back to the kitchen without asking if she was done, he had to come up with a replacement for take out. Mother always gets at least two meals out of a restaurant meal, especially after she gleans the leftovers off her dining partner’s plates. Back at the waiting room in the depot, Shirley and I made a quick trip to the bathroom, leaving Mother alone for just a few minutes. We should have known better. On our return, Mother was deep in conversation with an elderly gentleman who’d moved to the seat next to her. I warned him she’d already buried seven husbands and he ran like a rabbit. I told Mother a long time ago I didn’t want any more mean brothers and sisters, but still have to remind her occasionally. I guess that poor man didn’t want a mean daughter, either. I didn’t get a chance to tell him I was kidding.
An hour or so before we got to Oklahoma City, our host called to see if we were still coming the next day. “No, we’ll be there in an hour.” Fortunately, she picked us up anyway.
More to come……
Mother will be ninety in May. A few weeks ago, my youngest sister asked if she had a bucket list.
“Not really,” she answered. “I’ve seen London, Dublin, New York City, and San Francisco. I’ve been to Canada, Mexico, and lots of the United States. I’ve worked as a teacher and in a cemetery. I’ve seen my name and art on the cover of a book. I’ve been married and had five children, then had lots of years on my own since your daddy died. I’ve been lucky and gotten to do so many things I only dreamed of growing up in The Depression in Cuthand, Texas. I guess the only thing I’ve been thinking about is taking a trip on Amtrak.”
That didn’t sound like much of a hill to climb. I called a very dear family member we’d both been wanting to visit for a while and wangled an invitation. We invited my sister-in-law, Shirley, which ensured a great time. After checking the dates with everybody, I got the tickets. About a week before we were to leave, Mother called.
“Have you already bought those tickets? It’s really not a good time for me to go before Christmas. I’d rather not spend the money right now and I haven’t done any shopping. Can you get your money back? Could we schedule it sometime later?”
I didn’t remind her she’s never once, in her whole life has ever felt it’s the best time to spend some money. I also didn’t remind her she always gives everyone cash, so there’s no gift shopping. “You don’t have to decide today. Think about it a day or two. Your ticket is your Christmas gift, so that won’t cost you anything.”
That sealed it. “Oh, in that case, I’m ready to go.” She was as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.
More to come …..