On Thursday, I began to have an inkling. On Friday, I was certain. Looming before us was a Saturday with no plans whatsover. No swimming, no basketball, no track, no concerts, no work. My entire family was unscheduled on Saturday. (Well, except for me. I had my weekly run with my friends, but we pushed it back to 5:30 a.m. and only ran for an hour.)
Some people may take the opportunity of an unscheduled day to spend it sleeping in then lolling about for the whole day. Others might organize a spring cleaning day. For me, I decided on a family road trip.
My grandmother lives four hours away in southern Kentucky. She's 92 years old and has out lived two husbands. She has a pacemaker and until a few weeks ago, she was caring for an aunt who is in a wheelchair. When they moved the aunt out, I knew that it was true, my grandmother, who I call Nana, is starting to slow down. Taking care of other people has been her life so if she decides she can't take care of other people, that is serious.
So following a winter where she slipped on the ice and broke a vertebrae and a spell a few weeks ago where she had a small stroke, but drove herself to the doctor because she didn't want to bother those nice ambulance drivers, I decided it was time for my whole family to pay her a visit.
Grace and I had seen her in April when we drove to Florida and back. Nana mentioned that she wouldn't even recognize my boys because she hadn't seen them for so long. I thought that might be true. So we left the house about 7:45 with chocolate milks and little powdered donuts to lure the teenagers to the car.
We listened to the first CD of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe trying to retrieve that old Narnia magic on a car road trip. Then we turned to telling stories and playing 20 questions. Finally, we fell back on Harry Potter story CDs. Harry Potter with the soothing voice of Jim Dale has gotten us through every car trip in the past 10 years.
We surprised Nana because I didn't want her trying to prepare food and wearing herself out. She was delighted to see us, even if she kept calling Spencer and Tucker by the wrong name.
And, although our day was unscheduled, my cousin Mike, who lives nearby, has a family that is always scheduled. He and his wife Melinda (one of the best additions to our family) had a funeral to go to and their college-aged children had a wedding to go to, but they still made time to visit us at Nana's house.
My kids and his kids used to spend hours playing dress up and exploring the gorge and cave over the cliff from Nana's house. They'd gather weeds and berries and make potions. They were imaginative and daring, playing Little House on the Prairie. So it was good to have a reunion, even though no one played dress up, except Morgan who needed to change from her funeral dress to one appropriate to celebrate a sorority sister's wedding.
Then my Uncle Wil came by to borrow some pruning sheers, having misplaced two pairs of his own. It was practically a family reunion.
I patted Nana's arm before we left and implored her to take care of herself.
"Honey, that's all I have to do now," she said.
And I wondered whether that means she is giving up just a little. She has always had someone else to take care of. She seemed well, just admitted to getting dizzy if she stands or walks too much. So she has slowed down a lot.
As the afternoon grew long, we piled into the car to drive back to Ohio and allow the kids to scatter with their friends. They took car pictures and slept.
Then listened to some more Harry Potter as we reached Columbus before the sun had gone down.
No one complained about a day spent appeasing mom. No one even fought about summer jobs or swim team practices. And Earl's tool bag, which he'd taken along just in case Nana needed some work done, remained in the car.
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