Grandparents’ weekend would mark the last motor home trip with Dad’s Carnation Sams group. It meant a lot to him. Since Kathie was in a play at the community theater, she couldn’t go – a lesson for her on commitment and life’s choices.
Josie was not going with just Grandpa. “I mean,” she said, “we’d get along fine, but I can’t go with just Grandpa.” Even though I know her teenage viewpoint probably left something to be desired, I knew what she meant. It isn’t the same, playing in a swimming pool with an 80-year-old man, and she wasn’t sure which other grandchildren would show up.
“I’ll go along,” I told her. I wanted to meet Dad’s friends before he quit camping with them. With my broken ankle, I wasn’t Jo’s ideal traveling companion (even though she loves to push my wheelchair). She asked her friend, Weslie, to go along, too.
I spent the least planning time ever to prepare and pack-partly because we made our decision to go sort of last minute, partly because I couldn’t easily move to do my own packing. It was a mistake, my being so nonchalant; I forgot my “stuff.”
My family was so anxious to get me into the car with my walker and wheelchair, that they forgot my bedding, my purse and most importantly, my tote bag that held my reading materials. These are an essential part of me going anywhere just in case I have a spare moment to read even a paragraph or two.
I hope you know, I’m making fun of myself. Time after time, I’ll take books and magazines with me knowing I probably won’t crack their covers. It’s like taking extra cash along just in case. Since reading is one of my favorite things to do, I’m always hopeful, I guess.
We put some extra miles on the motor home to go back and pick up the missing items and finally got away a couple hours later than Dad would have liked.
After construction detours messed us up in Canton (another lost half hour or so), we were finally headed south on Interstate 77 bound for Cambridge, Ohio, and the Spring Valley Campground when we had a blow out. The rear inside dual on the passenger side had slowly deflated due to a loose value extender.
“They are nothing but trouble,” my truck-driving brother had warned many times. Once deflated, the rubber tire had shredded and slapped and chaffed against the wheel well and siding, doing some damage.
For the first time in the 14 years Dad has traveled in this coach, we called his Good Sam’s emergency road service. Help came in record time, in the form of Harry of General Body and Tire from somewhere in Canton. He asked us to be still inside the coach while he jacked it up to change the tire. He was extremely personable in spite of the heat. he signed my leg cast, and we gave him a root beer.
We were back on our way. We pulled onto our campsite just in time for supper. Everyone treated me like a queen in my wheelchair. I quickly realized why my parents had enjoyed going with this group for so many years. They are wonderful people. Everyone signed my cast.
We sang songs around a campfire and shared blueberry pancakes the next morning. The kids threw water balloons and swam in the pool. I sat in a shady spot and got to read!
On the way home the next day, a molding strip along the top of the motor home started flapping loose as we breezed along the freeway. Luckily, we were near a rest area so Dad pulled off. He and Jo tucked it back where it belonged.
“This thing is falling apart like I am,” Dad said after we started rolling again. “I guess we’ll go down together.” I think he was joking even though he looked serious, but I kept quiet.
Later that week I went to my bone specialist. Off came the cast covered with colorful autographs. I’ll save it for a while. Some of the signatures are scrawled and sloppy, some have beautiful, graphic style, but the one that means the most is the first one that was signed. Raymond Marlett, “Ol’ Dad.”
He is working on getting the old rig ready for a family trip to Florida – its final fling. That will be another chapter.
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