The title sounds like a children’s story, but that is appropriate. Great Grandma (aka my Mom and hereafter called G.G.) was an elementary school librarian, loves books, and this is all about her and kids. She set off on a journey from Long Island to visit her three great-grandchildren. G.G. had not seen the baby, now eight months old. The older two are three and six.
I flew out on Wednesday to help my daughter-in-law. My son, the Dad in this story, was on a business trip from Monday until Sunday – a long, long time to spend solo with three little ones – especially over a weekend. I agreed to fly out and help.
G.G. was arriving Thursday night. Her flight was scheduled to leave JFK about 8:00 p.m. She got to the airport early and waited for the plane. To make a long story short – I wasn’t there, so I am not sure exactly what happened – the plane left without her. She missed her flight. Wrong gate, change of gate...She called me extremely upset on her way to talk to the airline people.
Her plane was the last one out to her destination that night. The only choice was to leave Friday morning. The airline did not charge to change her air travel and booked her on an early morning flight. I think it helped that she was an 86-year-old woman traveling alone. Deciding not to get a hotel room because she did not want to miss her flight (again) - she had to be at the airport 5:00 a.m. – she spent the night in the terminal. McDonald’s was the only vendor open. She sat around, tried to find a place to sleep, and somehow got through the night.
G.G. flew to Atlanta, sleeping through the two hour flight, and changed planes. Realizing there may not be enough time to dash from one gate to another – at 86 years of age she is not dashing anywhere – she arranged for a wheelchair and reached the gate for her second flight as passengers were boarding.
Finally reaching her destination at 11:00 a.m. – 13 hours late – she looked much better than I would have thought. The baby and I met her as she walked, a bit dazed and exhausted but happy the trip was over, from the tram into the main terminal. The weekend had just begun and her (mis)adventure was already well underway.
The weekend involved two birthday parties, Temple Junior Mitzvah day, where among other things the kids read a story to guide dogs, made sandwiches for one charitable group, put together bags of Spanish rice ingredients for another, made birthday boxes and other arts and crafts. There was a trip to the bookstore and games of Monopoly (the junior game and the real one), Candy Land, Pay Day - it rained and was cold the entire weekend. We watched movies, including Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon and some Elmo CDs. There were baby bottles, dirty diapers, naps and rest time. I lost count of the number of times everyone piled in and out of the car – three kids in car seats, Grandma climbing in the back, Mom and G.G. in the front.
There were a couple of temper tantrums (OK, more than a couple), the dog barking LOUDLY on a regular basis, and very early wake up calls as the kids decided 6:00 a.m. was a reasonable time for Grandma and G.G. to start their day. There were lunches out, ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, grocery shopping, and an impressive homemade dinner Sunday evening when Dad came home.
There was one adults-only evening. It started out with dinner. Of course we had forgotten to make reservations and had to wait for a table, but this was one of Mom’s favorite restaurants, and a place Dad did not particularly like. We were not going to forego the opportunity for a favorite meal. We had a lovely dinner and went on to an auction at the first-grader’s new school. We arrived late, but it did not matter. Most of the auction was silent – we walked around, studied the various offerings and wrote down our bids. Anything we really wanted we wandered back to….bid again…had some wine…gave competitive bidders the evil eye…G.G. fell asleep for awhile in a comfortable chair (who could blame her, missing a night’s sleep and the time change, three kids, one dog, assorted activities…)
G.G. and I flew home Monday. G.G. held up remarkably well amid the constant commotion of a contemporary kid-centered American household. I am sure she will enjoy a few days of rest and quiet at home, but it was a wonderful, memorable trip for G.G. and great grandkids alike.