Winter was bitter, harsh, and lonely morphing into a gray, damp, chilly afterthought. No spring for her. Sharing morning marathon talks over coffee by phone, my mom and I are very close but separated by 900 miles. The long bleak months of home confinement, coupled with some newly diagnosed health issues, were taking a toll on her spirit. I heard the dejection in her voice.
I was planning a summer trip, but loving concern kept niggling at me to plan an earlier surprise visit. Not a problem…just a budget buster, the numerous complications of my physical conditions, and fear. In recent life assessment, one of my unrecognized dreams/goals was to take a solo road trip, just me, a big girl. Scary stuff considering my physical limitations, diabetic monitoring, and syndrome triggers.
Nine hundred miles is not a road trip, but a sojourn. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. Mother’s Day was approaching. A surprise gift–a hand-delivered card. Love often overrides sound judgment. (Thankfully.)
I decided to set out the Friday before Mother’s Day, allowing a two-day drive with a motel layover. MapQuest yielded a written map with instructions. One of my disabilities is being severely directionally challenged. A Garmin was a previous gift to help with local navigation.
On Monday of my countdown week, I had an infusion. This infusion had an unusually long and nasty recovery–three days of headache, fatigue, mild nausea, and aches. I started to doubt the wisdom of my plans. Thursday dawned with an improved physical outlook, reigniting my initial excitement.
Packing. Clothing, cosmetics, and accessories are minor. My life support: medications, insulin pump supplies, backup pump, glucose monitor, test strips, and gait aids were carefully laid out, packed, unpacked, rechecked, and triple-checked along with remembering necessary emergency contact information.
I tried to remain calm. Excitement or angst, of which I had an abundance of both, aggravate or create syndrome stiffness, pain, and spasmodic attacks. Breathe, pray, breathe, pray.
After a restless night, I awoke and loaded the car. (The inventor of wheeled luggage has my forever gratitude…ease and surrogate walker.) A mix of Cd’s, snacks, bottled water, and a cooler for my insulin was the last to go into the car. I planned my departure for late morning to avoid rush hour traffic. SPS does not handle any sort of rush well.
I stopped to get a coffee to compensate for my lack of sleep the night before. The skies opened to a flooding deluge of rain…my worst fear as a passenger in a car, let alone driving on an interstate filled with semi-trucks.
I closed my eyes and said a simple prayer, “God, I need you to be the driver. I cannot do it without you.” A settling calm came over me.
Most of Friday was driving through torrents of rain. Brain-dead by rush hour that evening, I finally exited from the standstill bumper-to-bumper 5 mph traffic to check into the first-in-view motel. With my hiking pole and roll-along carry-on, I negotiated a killer deal with the motel clerk.
Laying on the king-sized bed of my ritzy suite, I was heady with the independence of the day’s accomplishment…”normal”…that delicious and elusive word. I called my supportive loved ones, clued in on my surprise, to update on the safety of my status. A hot shower and bed beckoned to rest my scratchy eyes, elevate my tingling, burning right arm, and stretch my aching back and stiff neck.
Savoring the continental breakfast, as a first-time solo traveler, was a new and exciting experience for me. Resetting my Garmin traveling companion, I set out for the long day’s travel with seeing Mom as my prize at the end of the day. Giggles of anticipation erupted from me all day.
I pulled up that evening as Mom was grilling Bratwurst. I told her, “I thought I would save the postage for your Mother’s Day card and just bring it to you.” Happiness that shatters the heart was felt in our hug.
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my adult life–the euphoria of being with Mom and overcoming 20+ years of SPS not letting me, or others telling me I can’t, for me to make my first solo road trip–at the age of 53, driving 900 miles. But I was not the driver.
“The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.” ~Teresa Of Avila
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