Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to
This past week I made a visit to Pennsylvania. I’ve written before that my father is in ill health; the truth is time is limited. I was able to visit at the same time as my oldest brother, Charlie, and I’m glad I did so.
The trip up was relatively uneventful. Traffic was slow around Washington D.C., and there was the front bumper of a semi in the road around the North Carolina – Virginia border. I listened to podcasts, and when I just needed a musical interlude I turned on my Road Trip Playlist: a selection of songs recommended by friends and family across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All told, there ended up being over three hours of listening pleasure, and while I didn’t always remember who’d suggested what song, it helped to know that my friends were with me in spirit.
Speaking of friends, I got to visit with one of my best and oldest friends David on the way up. I haven’t seen him in-person since 2009, but we still talk and keep up with each other. It was like we hadn’t even been apart. I got to meet his kids and their pets (the dogs found me interesting) and then, after a couple of hours, I was on my way again making the final push home.
Which meant driving through Scranton, PA. And if you recall anything about me, you know I’m a fan of The Office – and so are many of my coworkers. I promised to get a picture or something as I drove through, but also wanted to be safe and legal using my phone on the highway. So, I pulled off at an exit, placed my phone face-up on the dash, and turned on the video. Then I drove back onto the highway and to the next exit, passing several road signs along the way. I stopped the video and trimmed it down to a few seconds of me driving under a “Scranton” sign.
I made it to my parent’s house just thirty minutes later than I’d hoped, still beating the setting sun. I don’t like driving at night.
Their cat, Ozzie, remembered me, and let me pat him throughout my stay. I was not privileged enough to have him sit on my lap, but I’ll take what I can get. Even him standing by me and purring was enough.
The next morning, I spent with my dad while my mom went to pick up my brother and his wife. We talked and when he fell asleep I read a book. I actually read three books over the course of the four days I was there: Ink and Sigil (a quick fantasy romp and fun afternoon read); the Sisters Brothers (a dark western comedy); and The Last Apothecary (which you can skip, in my opinion).
One of the benefits of visiting my parents at the same time as Charlie was being able to run together. We’re running a marathon together in February (fingers crossed) and got in some training runs. However, neither of us live in hilly areas, and northeast PA is very hilly, indeed. We still kept a good pace with each other. Charlie also asked dad for some of his old handkerchiefs to carry with us; the race will be run the day before his birthday. So now we both have a red hanky to carry with us and wave when we cross the finish line.
I also got to cook for my family. They said “chef’s choice” and I eventually settled on sloppy joe. I was able to make it close to my own recipe; I just didn’t have any Coleman’s mustard. Other than that, they know my “secret recipe” now, I suppose. There was so much I had to start it in batches and then finish it all in the crockpot. And my family, whose unofficial motto is “I could eat” had leftovers for lunch the next day . . . and the day after that. And each day it got better, because it just does.
Another thing I was glad to do was visit a local waterfall with Charlie and my mom. When we got together last year, we promised that when we each had a pair of EnChromaglasses (for color vision deficiency) we’d get together and cry at waterfalls.
So, check that off the list.
There were other conversations with my mom and dad – hard, yet necessary ones. I won’t go into detail about them, but you probably know the kinds/type that I’m referring to. I would like to think that Charlie and I helped make some of them easier.
The drive back was difficult. Rain and traffic and accidents all feeding into a spiral of slow traffic added about two and a half hours to my drive time. But, I made it safely.
And then slept for almost two days.