“I know. I’m worried,” said my brother.
I was telling him that our sister had been bragging to friends that our parents, who are 85 and 86 years old, were going to visit her for the first time in the three years since she moved to North Carolina from New Jersey where my parents and I live. She said her friends were amazed they were driving down at their age. I asked her if she told them her little sister was driving them. She said “Yes, my crippled sister!”
This was the story that prompted my brother to comment he was worried. He often travels with me and knows I have significant physical challenges from a stroke 20 years ago. Our parents are in decent shape for their age, but they have their challenges as well having reached age 85 for mom, and 86 for dad. My brother questioned whether the trip was a good idea at all.
It was my sister’s wish for our parents to see her new home before it was too late. When she told me she was getting a paid vacation from work in early August, I suggested it would be a good time for us to visit. There had been a few false starts for getting my parents there in the past three years. Since I had the time to go, I offered to take them there for a few days.
Once they agreed to go, I very quickly made hotel reservations before they could change their minds. They were aware the trip would be challenging on a few levels. Sitting in the car for long periods is hard for all three of us because of stiffness and discomfort. Mom needs frequent bathroom stops.
I had a feeling of now or never once the reservations were made. I discussed it with my brother and assured him things wouldn’t be that complicated because most of our time would be in the car. Dad is an excellent driver as am I. We had too many potential changes in our plans as far as what time to leave, what to bring, how long to stay. My sister isn’t the easiest person to get along with so we decided to travel on Wednesday, stay overnight in Virginia, arrive in North Carolina on Thursday, and leave on Monday so we could enjoy a leisurely Sunday with my sister and her husband before they had to go back to work on Monday.
Dad and I did all of the driving since my mother is recovering from a fractured shoulder, although she was still a good driver before the accident. My father commented that I drive better with one arm than many people who have use of both arms. I was amazed at the level of skill my father still has behind the wheel. I calculated that he has been driving for 68 years which counts for a lot.
There were no mishaps along the way other than an occasional wrong turn. Dad was incredibly adept at following the newfangled GPS in my car. We laughed a lot at the three of us sharing hotel rooms. I was grateful to have so much time with my parents.
We had a nice dinner at my sister’s house on Thursday night after we arrived at our hotel. The set up at her house wasn’t well suited to having three overnight guests. On Friday, my niece visited her grandparents.
After hanging around the house with my sister for two days, my parents and I all seemed to arrive at the same conclusion at the same time. We all wanted to leave on Sunday instead of Monday.
We went out to dinner on Friday night with them. On Saturday my niece returned with her live in boyfriend so he could meet her grandparents. This was a highlight of the trip because my father told them a lot of stories from his days when he was in the Marines stationed in North Carolina. They were particularly fascinated by the stories about how the south was still segregated in the 50’s. The train from New York would stop in Virginia so the black guys could move to the back of the train for the rest of the journey. My niece was born in 1988 so this was a chapter from the history books for her.
By Sunday we had mapped out a longer distance route home in order to avoid traveling through the DC area where we had lost two hours on the way down due to heavy traffic.
In the end, my father had done the majority of the driving over 1300 miles. He has always been good at driving long distances. Watching him and traveling for days with my parents who have been married for 66 years I was struck by the fact that they are a miracle.
When I first started writing on Medium, I published using the word “Miracle” as my pseudonym. The word tells my story of surviving a severe stroke at age 35 during the sixth month of pregnancy with my second child. My son was not quite two years old. I gave birth normally while I was still paralyzed. I recovered and went on to raise two sons and live a full life.
I waited to write this story until I had achieved the miracle of delivering my parents safely back home then driving the rest of the way home by myself. The trip was indeed a miracle.
Thank you for reading :)