Wednesday, July 15, 2009


We visited Don's mom, and we survived. The drive there took thirteen hours, we spent two days visiting, and drove the same thirteen hours back. I have now breastfed and changed diapers at various truck-stops and highway rest areas in West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.

Robert was a real trooper. He was wonderful on the drive out, sleeping for most of the trip. Unfortunately, this lulled us into a false sense of security for the return drive, during which he shrieked from the eastern end of Kentucky through West Virginia. I think change the altitude was hurting his ears (it was certainly affecting mine), because he settled down again once we got through the mountains. He was wonderful with his grandmother, who basked in his smiles and talked to him constantly, many decibels louder than most would consider necessary. (You know how sometimes, some people start needing a hearing aid, but are in complete denial about it? So they just turn the TV up louder, talk louder, and constantly ask everybody else to repeat themselves? I think a hearing check should be a mandatory part of either the yearly physical or drivers' license renewal, or both, starting at some arbitrary age like 65.) Until this spring, when Don stayed there for weeks when his dad was dying, he never visited for more than three days or so. He said that he just couldn't handle being with his mom for longer than that, and that a longer visit would damage their relationship. Having finally gone with him, I have to say that I agree. It's one of those situations in which the easiest, best thing to do is to just nod, smile, agree and humor someone, which you can only do for so long.

The cat and dog handled the trip like the pros that they are. With the exception of the cat continually trying to sleep on the car seat (on the baby) at first, they were no trouble at all.

This was my first time to see Don's ancestral homeland. I mean, um, his home town. He's described it in great detail during our nine years together, so I was really interested to finally see it for myself. He was in full reminiscing, story-telling mode from the moment we turned off of the Interstate; every house, farm, creek, and wooded area had some bit of personal history attached. Actually, the whole town and its surrounding area can be described in one of two ways: as having an important memory for Don, or having not been there back in the day. "That (subdivision, new school, etc) used to be a cornfield" came up rather often. It is one of those Midwestern, farming communities in which half of the town is related to each other some ways or another, and to the residents of the surrounding towns as well. I read in the town's paper that the county fair was starting the day we left (unfortunately, because I would have liked to go) and it listed the eighteen contestants for Fair Queen. One, from a few towns over, had Don's last name, so I asked if he was related... I was kind of joking because Don's last name is one of the most common in the country. Turns out, he was. Of course. This girl was his father's cousin's daughter... or something like that.

For someone like me, who grew up in the suburbs (and in the eighties/ nineties), Don's childhood seems fuller and richer, almost idyllic, like something from a book or the movies. All of the things that my family would have to go on vacation to do, like fishing, camping, boating, or even just playing in the woods, Don did at home, all summer long.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Yeah, it's always idyllic until you actually live it. :) I'm glad you lived to tell the tale...snicker