Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tales of a Texas trip, Day One Busy as a Bee

Don't know if it was excitement or nerves or what last night, but I did not sleep much. I went to bed around 1030 and was up a little after 1. My dh was a dear and stayed up with me so we could talk and watch the boob tube together. It was nice. I wish we stayed up all night together more often. Anyway we left a little after 4 for the airport and I was starving by then so my dear mother had to stop at the Flying J for toast and jelly before we got to the airport. After security where I had to remove my shoes and walk barefoot on filthy carpet, I was armed with medication and a full belly as we boarded the plane at 6 am. It was a puddle jumper and we were crammed in like sardines. We sat right next to the restroom and it was stinky. My mom bought me some masks to wear on the plane so I was glad I had them. My baby niece was a little jumpy when the plane took off, but it only distracted her for a second from her graham cracker snacks. We arrived on time at Chicago and had to climb down the steps outside and walk a short distance to the terminal where we encountered more steps. We fumbled slightly with the luggage when a pilot who rode with us offered to carry a bag up the steps for us, "My mom always told me to help beautiful women." he whispered to my adorable mother as he handed her the suitcase. We had a little wait (almost 3 hours) at Ohare so we took our time and walked the distance. We thought about getting a wheelchair, but opted to hoof it for the exercise. It was a nice mediocre walk to the gate where we grabbed a breakfast sandwich on a pretzel roll, YUM. We sat and waited while the world passed us by; a group of school age kids on a field trip, some men and women in military uniforms ranging from army to navy, backpackers, business men and women, older couples heading on a cruise, young families with children, and just plain ordinary people like us. Airports are like the melting pots of the country. It is so interesting to see and hear the people. I could have waited there all day and still not have been bored. I met a neat lady in the line for breakfast and an interesting gentlemen in the waiting area before we boarded the plane. Even the lady at the cash register was a person I felt like I could have sat down for coffee with. But, that's me, I have never been at a loss for words. I have been born with the gift (or hex) of gab. I took some medicine to help any sudden come on of pain and got ready to board plane number two. This was a bigger one. We bought our seats sort of last minute, so they weren't all together, but a kind stranger traded seats so we could all sit together. Due to some minor mechanical difficulties, the flight was more than 45 minutes late taking off. We had ear phones that we could listen to the traffic tower chatter and I tried to for a few minutes, but all of the numbers made my head spin. I deciphered, with the captain's help that we were plane 7 in a line trying to be cleared for take off and each plane took off every few minutes. Those tower guys talk so fast and the dialect is in a category of its' own. This ride was more comfortable than the last, but my energy level had faded and the decent into Dallas gave me quite a queasy feeling that I would have rather done without. My ears were not agreeing with the change in pressure either and it created this sick, nausea, headache for quite some time. We were able to get our luggage and find our way to the shuttle and to the car rental place where we rented a 2006 Outback. It looks sharp and has just enough room for us 4 girls and all our luggage.

Texas is BIG. Uncle Larry just tonight told me that he heard that if you took the state of TX and pinned the top of it in the exact middle of the U.S. and spun it around 360 degrees, the very tip would touch every state in the country. I believe him. Everything is big here. The plane that brought us here, the airport, the downtown buildings, the cars, the houses and even the glass they brought my ice tea in at supper tonight, it must have been a quart, at least. We got settled into the Outback and I called my dh to tell him we made it here safe and sound.

The navigators, my mother and sister, amazingly found our way out of the BIG city and into the BIG suburbia where my aunt and uncle live. The house is gorgeous brick on 10 flat acres of Texas grassland. It is breathtaking. Larry took us on a short tour tonight and showed us the dried up pond and large back acreage with trees and rock benches. Upon arriving at the house we were greeted by seven dogs. It was a bit overwhelming. I knew they were dog people, but my goodness. It was very clear who was in charge here and most of the bosses have 4 legs, excellent sense of smell and very wet noses and tongues. After the initial shock wore off from realizing who our roomies were going to be, we all started warming up to the dogs, even my little niece, who at first was frightened to death of them. There are 2 pugs, 2 Yorkie, 2 white fluffy small dogs with a litter of puppies and a large boxer. I have been told their names several times already, but (I love this excuse) chemo kills memory cells and I am the only one awake right now so I can't include them in this post.

The real reason I wanted to write tonight was because of what happened at supper. My uncle wanted to take us out to this local cafe/bar/pool house where the Mexican food is sublime and the atmosphere is cozy. After he came home from work we took the scenic route from his home to a little tiny town called Maypearl. The outside of the building looked more like a barn or a shed, which I am actually pretty used to. But, once we got inside you could really feel the ambiance of a real home-town place. It was actually 3 places in one, the front was a cafe type, the middle part sort of overflow and the back was the bar and pool area. It was called the Busy Bee Cafe and I was in love. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was comfortable and the company was superb. My uncle's buddy and his 7th grade son showed up to eat with us and we had a great BIG conversation. It was real. It was fun. It was emotional. His wife passed away from breast cancer and he is struggling with health problems of his own. He is taking care of three children, running a ranch, holding down a job and still had the energy and compassion to share his story with me and tell me to "stay positive and I'll get through it". It was too much, I broke down and cried. I couldn't hold it in any longer. It's everywhere. These people that are on my side, they are with me wherever I go. I was shocked and moved by his testimonial and his pure, raw courage. He makes me want to be brave for the wife and mother that his family lost. My sister commemorated our visit by purchasing me a t-shirt that says Busy Bee Cafe, Maypearl, Texas. I will wear it proudly, with my head held high and courage in my heart for all of the people in this huge world who are touched by cancer.
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