We got the car’s air-conditioning fixed at the beginning of the summer for which I’m thankful because tomorrow – road trip!
My sister and I are taking our mum to visit a friend. They’ve known each other for over fifty years, since before we emigrated from England. Besides the fact that my sister and I also want to visit her, our mum can’t drive herself anymore and she needs some assistance when travelling, so it’s a road trip!
Just those two words conjure up feelings of anticipation and excitement. My mind goes into full-gear – what shall I wear? Hmm, the weather man says “clouds, with some sun and chance of rain”. I’ll need maps. We’ll pack a lunch to eat on the road. Where should we stop for supper?
When we were kids we went to said friend’s for many holidays – Christmas, Easter, summer. The husband was a minister and so church holidays were busy times for him, not so easy for them to come to visit us.
Preparations for our trips started days, if not weeks before. Mum would bake so we could contribute to the meals – cakes, pies, squares. I would have to go to the library and get some books to read – in the car and while we were there. It would be a chance for me to indulge in my favourite past-time. Then there were all the decisions about clothes and toys and if the car would make the journey there – and back!
Excitement would be at a fever pitch on our travel day. Dad and Mum would get up while it was still dark and pack the car. Dad would start up the car so it would be nice and warm for us. Mum would set up the back seat as a bed and Dad would carry us and place us, ever so gently, in the back seat bed, a mess of pyjamas, blankets, pillows and feet. Half an hour later the questions would begin, starting with “how long before we get there?” and continuing with “are we there yet”?
Aunty and Uncle and their two kids would give us a grand welcome when we arrived.
I loved doing dishes with Aunty – we had such great conversations. She always treated me as an “equal” and never “just a child”. Uncle was in and out with the irregularity of his position as minister to his flock and counsellor to every one else. He conducted the high school band. He could “hum” like a trumpet. And his eyes nearly always danced.
I remember bats in the belfry, smoke and fire in the chimney, cheesecake on the floor, the best raspberry pie ever and lumpy gravy, daily walks to the grocery store and good times at the rented summer cottage – puzzles and boat rides, sticky Chelsea buns and water skiing, new friends and old, sand between the toes, sun and rain, singing, laughing and playing, walks on the beach and rides in the car.
I loved spending time with them. It felt like home. They felt like family. We were loved well.
I’ll think of all these things tomorrow as I throw my overnight bag in the car and drive to pick up my sister and our mum. I’ll wipe away tears as I do now. I’ll remember what was as I help my mum down the stairs and answer her question “what day is it?” at least three times on the way to the car. We’ll try to be patient as she asks “how long will it take to get there?” and “how long are we staying?” and “when are we going home?” again and again.
My sister and I will smile at each other when she asks “are we there yet?” You see, we are sisters. We share these same memories – good memories, happy memories, the kind that stay with you, even when the people in the memories begin to fade, even when old age grasps them tight.
And you know what? I think I’ll put a pillow and blankets in my back seat – just for old time’s sake.
Let’s journey together.
©2009 Denise Budd Rumble