We recently took a road trip to Tennessee that was unplanned and truly unexpected. This time it was not to find treasures, but to say goodbye to a treasure, my sister Cathy's brother Warren. He had passed away suddenly and at too young of an age. He was a wonderful man full of laughter and love for others, and he is deeply missed each day. Grief and shock were our companions as we started our journey South to be with his wife and family.
Anyone who knows the two of us, know we cover our sadness and pain pretty well. Usually with silly stuff and laughter. And believe me this trip was no exception. We thought we had prepared for everything we would need for our drive down to a small town in Tennessee. We had the Garmen for backup if we got lost, had our coffee (we do not travel without coffee), and a printout of directions.
It did not take us long to run out of coffee. Sheila aka the Garmen, would not let us leave the state of Illinois. No matter what buttons we pushed to program it to allow us into Kentucky or Tennessee, all it kept telling us to make a u-turn on the interstate. What kind of "helpful" directional device tells you to make a u-turn on the interstate! Isn't that illegal? We finally decided to scrap Sheila's help, and relied on the printed directions and Cathy's memory to get us there.
We stopped for fuel at a little gas station in Kentucky. Cathy fueled up the vehicle and I went in search of coffee. What I found was coffee that certainly had been on since the wee hours of the morning or possibly reheated from the day before.. As desperate as I was, I was not drinking that grog. When I came back outside Cathy said "What no coffee"?
All I could do was shake my head and tell her we certainly do not want coffee from here!
We decided we would just stop farther down the road for coffee. When we open the doors to get back in the car a swarm, and I do mean swarm of flies rushed into the car. We were sitting there in disbelief at how many there were, and then frantically start trying to shoo them out. We did what we could and then got back on the interstate. While I was driving the flies started biting my legs. I am stomping my feet trying to get the flies off of my legs, and the car is lurching forward and slowing to the rhythm of my stomping. My sister is looking at me like I am crazy or something is wrong with the car and she asks what is going on. I told her "these flies are biting me" and we started laughing so hard that it just made it worse. Cathy said "we don't have any bug spray or Lysol in the car, we need a plan." So she whips out what else, hairspray! Here we are driving down the interstate with flies biting us and a fog of hairspray as she is spraying my legs trying to keep the blood sucking flies from biting me. Finally, the flies were done!
After many stops for coffee at McDonald's and a few wrong turns on 45ES, 45, 45EN or whatever the road signs told us, we managed to get to our destination. We thought wow, we made it....until we checked into our hotel room.
Our hotel room was lovely, big and spacious. We unpacked our stuff so it was our comfy temporary home away from home. Tired, we decided it was time to call it a night and turned on the air conditioner. All was fine until the air conditioner went through its' cycle and shut off. It sounded like someone screaming. We laughed until we cried. Then the second time it cycled it sounded like nails on a chalkboard. Well, you can only imagine. Cathy finally turned it on to continuous fan and there was peace. Around 5 am, the air unit decided it wasn't done with us yet. It screamed and screeched constant. Cathy woke up, but did not want to get up to shut it down, hoping I would wake up (NOT). So she got up and turned it all the way off.
The next day we had a busy morning and afternoon. We went back to our hotel room tired and very hungry. At least we had thought to grab some food to eat in our room. As we settled in to eat our lunch we remembered the screaming air conditioner. Cathy called down to let maintenance know we had a problem, and before she could hang up the phone maintenance was knocking on our door. Was this man standing outside just waiting for the call? Cathy let him inside, and he said "Hello my name is Lewis, and I am your maintenance man". It was all we could do not to burst out laughing, it was like he was introducing himself at a restaurant "Hello my name is Lewis and I will be your server today". He was a very kind gentleman who sadly informed us that our air conditioner was kaput, the motor was done! He also informed us he was going to need to move us to another room. We were thinking we had just got settled and situated in to this room. He must have seen the look our our faces and he explained all we had to do was walk across the hall. He would move all of our things for us, we would not have to do anything but finish our lunch. Well talk about service with a smile! We got relocated after a very short time. Lewis told us if we needed anything, and he said "I mean anything" than please call him because he wanted us to be happy.
Lewis went on his way leaving us to finally eat our lunch and relax a little bit. We were trying to eat a little healthier than just the comfort food of fries and coffee, so we had both opted for a fish sandwich. Cathy went to take a big bite of her now cold sandwich, and splat! Out flew a big glob of tartar sauce and landed right on to the carpet in front of her. We are sitting there staring at this huge mess on the carpet, and Cathy says loudly "Oh Lewis cleanup in isle 5". Needless to say that sent us into peals of laughter. They probably heard us in the next room and thought what on earth is wrong with those women.
The service was lovely as were all the people who surrounded the family. As we departed to go back to the hotel, we were sitting in line to go over the train tracks, the train gates would go up and let 3 cars through, then down. This went on 3 or 4 times and Cathy decided it was her brother playing a trick from heaven. Oh how he loved to tease her and make her laugh. And it worked.
We prepared to leave Tenn with heavy hearts and minds the day after the funeral for our brother. The sky opened up and poured rivers of tears. It was like brother was up there, watching us, and said "Okay sissy's, you can cry now for a little while, but when the sun comes back out dry your tears".
Life is sprinkled with love, faith, tears and laughter.