My aunt Faye died two days before Christmas. The family planned on having a memorial service and I asked them to schedule it so that I had time to make flight plans to join them. And so I did. My reservations were out of Boston to Chicago, then another flight from there to Wichita; I was to arrive in KS at 4:45.
TRIAL: About ten minutes before a friend arrived to take me into Logan, my phone rang. The display showed an unidentified caller at an 800 number. My first inclination was not to answer it and then I thought…airline. It was American Airlines calling to inform me that my flight from Chicago had been canceled and it would be my good pleasure to sit around in Chicago until 7 pm (my words, not theirs), arriving in KS at 9:30.
TRIUMPH: My friend who offered the transport into Logan suggested to me that I see a live person at the airport and see if they couldn’t do something better. Happily they were able to book me on a Delta flight (going through Atlanta) that would get me into KS only 45 minutes later than planned.
TRIAL: I arrived in terminal B for American. Now I needed to get to terminal A for Delta. Long walk (the first of several). Cardio for the day? Check!
TALE: It had been overcast in Boston when my flight departed. However, it was not long until we were above the cloud cover and we were surrounded by blue, sunny sky. Initially the clouds were such that you might have thought you were looking at overly ripened cotton bolls.
TALE: I don’t believe I’d ever been to Georgia before – and can’t say I’ve “been there” yet, but I did fly over and into Atlanta. In spite of my numerous exploits with the Curmudgeon I am really not a world (or particularly seasoned) traveler. Atlanta was under clouds as we made our descent and I was surprised to see that there were deciduous trees there – wasn’t thinking deciduous in the south! The cloud cover gave the naked trees, in amongst which were sprinkled evergreens, a purplish gray cast – very interesting to see. The descent into Wichita was by contrast, as the sun was going down – giving the trees there a golden ecru hue.
TRIUMPH: I called for and was ferried by the hotel transit from the Wichita airport, and pulled in immediately behind the CO family contingency who had driven out that day! And then in subsequent triumph the CA family group who had arrived earlier to visit other family in KS, arrived at our hotel and we all – that would be eleven of us – went out for dinner together.
TALE: What does one eat in KS? It should be steak, but that night we did Mexican! Say what?
TRIAL: Regulating the heat in the hotel rooms. It was either on and warm (and if left on, too warm), or turned off and cold. There was no middle ground. Small price – we were together.
TRIUMPH: The next morning was the memorial service for my aunt. We picked up another family member there, a cousin I have spoken to on the phone but had not met, who drove in from Texas. There were as well a number of people from my aunt’s church, other friends she had made in the nine years or so that she had been back in Wichita (she grew up in this neck of the woods), the hospice chaplain, her caregiver and others. The service was absolutely perfect. There was welcome in abundance in large part thanks to my cousin Nancy; a relaxed and loving tone; testimonials of love people felt for Faye and the love that she came to know (after a life-time of longing); a photo montage that my cousin-in-law put together that was superb, and in which Faye smiled from beginning to end; a reading by my cousin Jim (Faye’s son) that was so fitting, as well as words of a son’s love and thanks; and more. I am certain Faye smiled on us that day.
TALE (of intrigue): After we had been out for lunch together, an even larger gathering than the previous night, the group of eleven returned to the hotel and I invited them to my room (the heat was on!). Perhaps I was unaware of the clandestine activities about to be carried out… Nancy brought in all of her mother’s jewelry for the granddaughters, cousins, and others to select for young children at home – we might have been looking over some heist but it really was innocent! Most of the items were costume jewelry but there did unfold some spirited discussion about the pearls…which might be real, which might be…fake. One of the grandkids, IPhone at the ready, researched on the web. We learned that real pearls are not perfectly smooth on the surface. (It was only the next day that I thought to rub my fingernail on the pearl necklace my mother gave me…small but noticeable “catches” – not so for my pearl earrings from Kohl’s!)
TRIAL: The next morning after being transported to the airport I decided to go to the ticket counter. Good decision… It seems that when the revised arrangements were made in Boston two days earlier, my return reservations were blown out of the water. I decided to relax and go with the flow as this was the return flight – no urgency as there was on the flight out. And so when offered (at before 10 a.m.) a flight out at 2:30 pm I said to the gal “As much as I like you I really don’t want to sit here with you until 2:30!” She tried harder and put me on a flight to Boston – by way of Dallas/Fort Worth. You cannot yet “there” from “here” – whether you are starting out in Boston or in Wichita! For my inconvenience she offered a $100 coupon…which neither she nor the three subsequent agents could successfully produce.
TRIUMPH: One, I did get the coupon up at the gate. And two, I was aware that the Dallas flight was the one my CA family was going to be on. When I saw Jim I told him I simply had not had enough family time and so had stamped my feet and insisted on being put on the flight to Dallas!!
TRIUMPH: Reconnecting with family. Priceless.