Wednesday, July 6, 2011
For Thanksgiving 2007, my mom, dad, Andy and I went to the NC Mountains to visit family on my dad’s side. My brother drove up from Atlanta by himself. Abby wasn’t up to the trip because she couldn’t have handled the steps at my Aunt and Uncle’s place. Instead, we had my cousin and her family dog-sit Abby at my mom’s.
My dad was still doing “OK” but he was starting to head towards the edge of a steep hill. He was scheduled to start dialyses in early 2008. Even though people on peritoneal dialysis can travel, arranging to have the fluids and equipment to be at the travel site can be cumbersome. People on peritoneal dialysis have dialysis every night so traveling for them is difficult. This would be our last chance to go somewhere with my dad. Looking back, he never left Wake County again after that trip. During this trip, some relatives would see others for the first time in over 10 years. It would also be the last time some relatives would ever see each other again.
I drove my car up there. I wanted to drive my newer car up there rather than my dad’s older one. My parents met me in the parking lot at my work place on Wednesday otherwise I would have to go an extra 50 miles on that trip. The trip had an inauspicious beginning. First, my parents were 20 minutes late. My parents had a hard time finding the company site even though I had printed out a map and a Google satellite image of the site. Then, my dad and mom were arguing with each other over whose fault it was for forgetting to pack my dad’s insulin. Lastly, my mom broke the GSK “No Smoking Policy” when she got out of the car with a cigarette in her hand, and then flouted the rule by putting the butt out on the parking lot with her shoe.
I was glad to see my Baby Boy. He readily got out of my dad’s car and got into mine. After I put their luggage in my trunk, we went on our way. My dad sat in front, my mom and Andy in back. This trip isn’t nearly as atrocious now as it was 20 years ago before I-85 widened from 4 lanes to 8 and I-40 had a by-pass in Winston-Salem. Before then, I-85 and I-40 were parking lots on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. There were some trips it would take over 3 hours to travel 30 miles. The highway improvements shaved hours off of our travel time.
When I was a kid, the trip was excruciating. We would ask my dad to stop to eat only for him to respond: “We’ll eat at my brother’s restaurant when we get there.” Then when we arrived at the restaurant, the grill would be closed. I could still hear the waitress’s shrill voice telling us the dreaded news.
Now, I was in the driver’s seat. I’d stop when I damned well please, and that place was a McDonald’s in Hickory. By this time, my parents had simmered down and we actually had a nice meal which we ate in the car. I’m not sure what Pandy got, but he got some tooties, you can be sure of that.
We made it Waynesville in reasonable time. It was noticeably colder in Waynesville than it was in Raleigh. There were even forecasts for snow in the higher elevations the next day. Most of the other guests were already at my Aunt’s. We’d spend 3 full days up there. More stories will follow.