A Long Car Trip Always Makes The Holiday Weekend Exciting


It’s morning. It’s quiet. I don’t have any emergencies staring me immediately in the face. Ahhhhh. A morning like this can be appreciated by anyone — unless, of course, it’s like this every morning.

“I miss seeing children,” my mother complained to me one day, calling from her senior living facility. “There aren’t any children around here.”

It’s true. My mother’s apartment is at the end of a long hall on the third floor. It is beautifully appointed with mahogany furniture and thoughtful artwork. There’s a place for everything, and everything is in its place. Her meals are delivered to her door, together with a glass of wine. She lives an orderly life.

But my daughter had also been missing something, too — her grandmother — and my grandchildren hadn’t seen their great-grandma in years. So, over the Memorial Day weekend, off we went.

The distance between us is negligible — a mere nine-hour car ride — and the kids are good kids. Still…

If there’s one criticism I have about my daughter, it’s that she overpacks. She is prepared for any eventuality, no matter how remote. We were supposed to leave at 8 a.m. Friday. By 9 a.m., that had been pushed to noon. We actually got on the road at 3 p.m.

The car looked like “The Beverly Hillbillies on Vacation.” Once we crammed my suitcase and carry-on in there (no overhead bins, darn it), the driver’s visibility was severely limited. I didn’t care. I wasn’t the driver.

Part of the problem was the dogs. There was no one to watch the dogs. The easiest solution was to bring them along — together with their food, medicine, dog bowls and a stuffed dog bed as big as a wading pool. I’m not a fan of car travel with large dogs, but they were supposed to stay in the back.

I guess it was my own fault for wearing black slacks, but by the time we arrived, I was covered in dog hair. My elbow was wet where I had been sharing the console with a snout. And pangs of guilt coursed through me when we ordered our dinner “to go,” and I was insensitive enough to order a hamburger. “Don’t give them people food,” my daughter warned me.

“Aw, but look at those eyes.”

“Don’t do it.”

Both the dogs and I whimpered.

Did I mention that one of the kids gets carsick? And that one has a bladder the size of a walnut? Our nine-hour car trip took 12 hours.

But mom was happy to see everyone, and we were happy to see her. We only had a day and a half, but we went to church, to brunch, to an art show, to a parade. The kids played in the hotel pool. We visited great-grandpa’s grave. We filled up her living room with performance art, colored pencil drawings and charades. She sent us off with estate jewelry, toys and snacks.

“Your mom is nice,” my grandson told me. I was glad he could see it for himself.

Now all that faced us was the car ride home — 12 hours, 24 stops and the cramming-in of a $10 end table my daughter picked up at a rummage sale. We managed it — the dogs simply rode in the kids’ laps.

As for mom, I think she’ll be OK living without children around for a while.