On Saturday morning, my brother and I packed up his car with everything we needed to travel with our Mom from East Texas to the Chicago area. She was leaving the home where she'd lived since 1989, and moving into an assisted living facility closer to her family. We had the clothes she needed for the next couple of weeks, some household items, and treasured keepsakes. We had a cooler full of refreshments and snacks. We had her books, her crossword puzzles, and her Sudoku books. We had spare reading glasses, pencils, a cozy crocheted afghan to keep her warm, and pillows. We had about a dozen pillows.
While we packed the car, Mom stayed in her bed, waiting for the moment we could escort her out and settle her in the luxuriously prepared back seat of the car.
I was tucking some last minute items away in the cargo area, and my brother was tidying something in the garage, when I heard a faint cry from inside the house. I looked up to see my brother fling some object away from him and dash into the kitchen. I quickly followed.
She'd fallen several times in the last month, and we'd come to recognize her cry of alarm - had she taken a spill?
Thankfully, no - Mom was in the hallway, upright with her walker, saying, "Someone's at the door!"
"Geez, you scared the hell outta me," said my brother. Then he went to answer the door.
It was her neighbor, D., come to say farewell.
D. and his wife had been very kind to my mom, more than I can even express here. They'd invited her to their home for holiday gatherings, they'd kept an eye on her house, and in her recent infirmity, they'd been available when she needed care.
D. is an enthusiastic rose gardener, and he brought a blossom to see Mom off with. My brother found a bud vase in Mom's china cabinet, and brought it into the car.
So when we set out, leaving the house behind us, D.'s rose came with us. Here it is as we drove north on US 59.
We drove as far as Little Rock, Arkansas, that first day. The second day, we drove north through the Ozarks, in the beautiful rolling hill country. The rose was a great reminder of a cherished home for Mom, while ahead the road stretched on.
I have a lot of pictures and stories to share about our trip. We had some laughs; we had some annoyances. We saw beautiful sights, some weird things as well, and enjoyed each other's company. I'll share those things later, but for now I just want to say - It was a good trip to be taking - my brother, my mother, and me.
We spent the second night in Missouri, in a huge tawdry hotel next to an amusement park, empty and echoing now in the off-season of November.
When we left the next morning, the windshield was covered with frost. We knew we were heading North.
We continued on, and soon crossed the Mississippi and drove into Illinois. "Look, Mom. There's the arch. You're now in Illinois," I said. "It's your new home state."
The land flattened out, and we drove north through the state, until we arrived at Mom's new home.
My other brother had driven there before us, taking Mom's car packed with more of the things she wanted to keep. He had already put her favorite photos in her room, waiting for her arrival.
When we checked in, we brought the bud vase with D.'s rose, and put it on the table, with the photos of her grandkids.
So - thank you, D., for bringing a beautiful rose to Mom for her journey. I like to think how it traveled with her, and cheered up her new home.