A deeply personal story from a beloved columnist

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A deeply personal story from a beloved columnist

Dateline October 29 2012: I am writing in a motel room in Houston, Texas. I am wishing with all my heart that I could go home to the people I love! Later I will understand what a difficult time hurricane victims are having, and will recognize myself as an ungrateful whiner. For now, I am wallowing in my disappointment. Hurricane Sandy has convinced the airlines not to fly toward home today or tomorrow – and perhaps not Wednesday. I talk with them frequently in the hopes of annoying them into a new decision.

The story explaining my predicament is not short. It goes like this: On October 17, my beautiful and very ill 90 year old mother, hopefully hearing the songs, prayers and expressions of love we offered, closed her eyes and left us for heaven. I have much to say about that in the future. Hopefully, some of it will strengthen and encourage those family caregiver readers who spend weekly time with me on this page. For now, I am in Texas and longing for home.

On October 23, when we returned to mom’s house after all the funeral activities, my best friend and college roommate Gwen received the news that her father, age 98, had passed away in his sleep. She left early the next day for West Texas to help her sister and brother plan another funeral. We have been fast friends since 10th grade, and now Gwen and I became “orphans” in the same week!

No doubt I will have a few years to ponder my mental and emotional state at the time, along with my thought process. I decided to go to Snyder, Texas to be with my friend for her father’s services, just as she had come to Bowie to support me in the loss of my mom. My daughter and granddaughter, both sweet as pie, decided to go too, so I wouldn’t be traveling alone so soon after my mom’s death.

We left BWI on Thursday afternoon, spent the night in Lubbock, Texas and drove the 80 miles to Snyder the next day in our rental car. Not too many folks around Bowie have ever heard of Snyder, Texas. It was a bustling oil boom town in the early fifties, reaching a population high of 16,000. I lived there with my parents from age 9 to age 21, when our family of 3 moved to the new Levitt town in Bowie, Maryland.  My dad left a thriving church in Texas to pastor a little group of 18 people having church services in a rancher at the corner of Belair Drive and Shelter Lane – now Grace Baptist Church on Race Track Road.

But I digress. Now there are only about 10,000 folks living in Snyder, but it remains a wonderful, open, western, friendly high-school football loving town. Don’t believe me? I left there 48 years ago­ and when we walked into the funeral home for the viewing, the funeral director on duty was the big brother of a high school friend! We hugged, and talked about his parents, now deceased, and his siblings. He expressed condolences for the loss of my mother.

After the service on Saturday, I visited with other former teachers and friends. (To be absolutely fair and honest, I should let you know that in September, 2011 I was in Snyder for my 50th high school reunion. So, I guess it’s not entirely true that all these people were remembering me from 48 years ago. Yet, some of them did! } On Sunday, I attended the church my dad pastored from 1951 to October 1964. I was again the comforted recipient of more hugs and much sympathy regarding the loss of my mom. Many friends at church remembered her and expressed their own sense of loss, along with wonderful old stories.

We left Snyder and headed back to Lubbock, where dinner was planned with relatives from my dad’s family who had been unable to attend mom’s funeral here. About thirty aunts, uncles and cousins met us at a wonderful chicken fried steak purveyor (Healthy Senior Moments Readers – do as I say, not as I do! LOL) near Texas Tech and we experienced another wonderful time of remembering old times and laughing through tears. A teen-age friend of Debbie’s who moved from here in the 80’s drove the hour plus distance from Amarillo to have dinner with us.

Monday, our plane flew from Lubbock to Houston. As you can guess, our connection from there to BWI was cancelled. Airline personnel had no helpful knowledge about when a plane might actually be flying in the northeast direction of Hurricane Sandy. They felt pretty safe making reservations to fly on Thursday, November 1, so we made reservations for then, and called the airlines every hour or two over the next couple of days. On Wednesday, Halloween day, we were able to come home by flying from Houston to Oklahoma City, and from Oklahoma City to BWI.

Pros: I saw old friends, got lots of hugs, and was able to help my friend in her grief. Cons: Costs of 3 round-trip flights; meals; lodging; I could not be home when I planned, and finally returned to find myself unbelievably behind on every single task in my life.

What do you think, readers? Should I have gone to Texas for a “quick trip” two days after my mother’s funeral? Would you have done it?

Thank you for reading. Stay well. See you next week – for a more typical column visit.

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