June 22, 2009
Today is transport day. Mother is returning from a month’s stay at my brother’s house in San Jose. It was a very short month, a fact that my brother would dispute I’m certain. So I check the Southwest website to determine flight status and find that it is departing on time. This time of the year, flights out of the bay area are fairly reliable.
I leave for the airport about 90 minutes ahead of flight arrival to assure myself time to allow for the inevitable traffic delays and clearing security with my escort pass. The last thing I would want is to be missing at the gate when she arrives. Hard to say where she would end up.
Last spring we were waiting together for a flight out of LAX headed for Orlando where she was headed to visit my dad’s two sisters. They were good friends for many years as they all lived in close proximity in Michigan and I spent many summer nights there playing with my cousins as we grew up.
She decided that she had to use the restroom. I took her there and waited outside the door. I have learned to be patient with mother and her nature calls, as elderly plumbing apparently works at a slower pace. The fact that it does work, and work independently, is its own blessing. After about 10 minutes I began wonder about the delay.
It is generally frowned upon for a 57 year old man to wander into a public ladies room. On a hunch I went around the corner and discovered another entrance to the ladies room from an adjacent corridor. And way off in the distance, steaming towards baggage claim, was mother. Unfortunately we were on a departing flight, and she was out of kilter by 180 degrees. At least she hadn’t left the secure zone and I retrieved her. No panic, no apparent confusion, just oblivion. We are considering a GPS device.
Her sisters in law were anxious to see her and had made arrangements to pick her up at the gate in Orlando. American Airlines seems to throw up more obstacles for Alzy passengers, but the sisters had ultimately prevailed.
She stayed a week and by all accounts had a pretty good time while there. I had stayed in contact with my aunts to check on how things were going and all seemed pleasant indeed. On flight return day I phoned my aunt to confirm flight status and to check on things in general. She said everybody had fun.
I was pleased and mentioned that perhaps another visit could be arranged next year. “We’ll see,” was the response. I know what “we’ll see,” means. Still it was good for mom to visit and reminisce.
I picked her up at LAX that day and asked her if she had had a good time. She said that she did, which I’m certain is true . Then I asked her where she had been. No answer. Then I asked her how my aunts were. No answer.
In four hours time, memories of a week’s interaction with loved ones vanished, or more likely, were never registered. We made sure that pictures and been taken and labeled. No label, no clue.
That was last spring. Today I’m at Burbank and mom has arrived.
Security and traffic were easy and I had time for an $8.00 airport beer while I waited. This is an eight week stint. The participants of this social experiment came to the conclusion that four to six would be better but sometimes vacations and trips and business force us to adjust.
As we head for the parking lot she expresses relief from the trials of air travel and professes she will sleep well tonight. And she did. But I got to hear that prophecy two dozen times in 45 minutes as we drove home. She can’t help it, I know.
Eight more weeks.