Friday, December 30, 2016

mom skips the country

Wednesday afternoon Mom left on a jet plane. But unlike John Denver's lyrics, we trust she will be back again.

This is not her first visit to this area -- or to Mexico. In fact, my parents had built a love relationship with Mexico years before I first crossed the border in the early 1970s. Dad had even floated the idea of retiring in Mazatlan. I guess my brother and I are now keeping his dream alive.

Mom visited me in Melaque three years ago. The visit was brief, but it pleased me to show her around my new country. She was a hit wherever we went. Church. Rooster's. Visiting the neighbors.

This trip was no different. Well, not exactly. It was different in that the four core members of our family were actually in the same place during Christmas. That was unusual. And memorable.

Between one of the best prime rib dinners I have ever eaten, conversations about what each of has been reading, rounds of Mexican train (where she regularly creamed us), and movies (The Three Musketeers, The King's Speech, Elizabeth), we had a simple, old-fashioned Christmas unencumbered by the neuroses of gift-giving. (I say that even though I walked away with four nifty Christmas place mats that we put to good use beneath our plates of prime rib.) We were so busy we did not even get around to the traditional jigsaw puzzle.

But all good things come to an end. I suppose that is true because we need a breathing space for the next good thing to come our way.

Mom decided she wanted to fly north to the blizzards of Bend. So, I booked her on an Alaska flight on Wednesday afternoon.

Because the flight leaves so late in the day, getting to Bend on the same day is always a well-balanced act -- with plane changes in Los Angeles and Seattle. The windows are very narrow on each transfer.

We knew there could be trouble right from the start. The flight to Los Angeles is on an airplane that comes from Los Angeles and does a quick turnaround for the return flight. For the past month, it has consistently arrived late.

And that happened on Wednesday. It had not even arrived by the time it was supposed to depart. So, her flight out left almost an hour late. (Boeing is apparently still working on its version of Mr. Peabody's WABAC machine.)

The window to catch her Seattle flight was just over an hour. That meant getting her through immigration, collecting her luggage, clearing customs, and rechecking her luggage before she had to pass another bit of Homeland Security performance art, and get to her flight.

We were watching the connecting flights on our smartphones, and hoping the Seattle flight would also be delayed. But the "on time" indicator did not budge.

That is when Mom called from Los Angeles. The man who was helping her through customs could not find her luggage. Her time to be seated on the next segment was down to 20 minutes, and she was nowhere near her gate.

When she found her luggage and was passing through customs a minor miracle occurred. Her Seattle flight was suddenly delayed.

She called from the airplane. All was well. Except for the fact that her Seattle-Bend connection time was reduced to less than 20 minutes. And that flight was on time. We were positive she would need to deal with the vagaries of finding an overnight hotel room at the Seattle Airport.

Then another minor miracle occurred. Her Bend flight was delayed.

She made it to Bend almost an hour late to be picked up by a van my brother had arranged. By 3 AM yesterday, she had forded the ice and snow that had accumulated around her house in her absence, and was in her house.

For most people, let alone an 88-year old great-grandmother, the experience would have been a fount of worries. Not for our mother. She is one of the most calm people I know. She accepts what comes along in its ragged clothes for what it is. One of the first lessons I learned from her is there is no profit in worry when you cannot alter your circumstances.

She is now ensconced in her ice palace in Bend -- ready to take up with her network of church ladies, DAR attendees, and Republican women who are intent on doing whatever Republican women in Bend do.

We enjoyed having here. I told her she is welcome to come back whenever she chooses.

Maybe she will. If she does, she will ride through the storms of adversity without a hair ruffled.

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