Road Trip!! The words that once meant throw a diet coke and a candy bar into the car, fill her up with gas, and away we go to reach new horizons. But the nature of this weekend’s solo road trip was a wee bit different. Back to back funerals in my home town to say goodbye to two great men. So I packed my bags (note: multiple bags filled with all kinds of ‘can’t live without for two day’s’ necessities, none of which included a diet coke or candy bar), kissed my little family goodbye, and hit the open road. Okay, it’s a major highway congested with traffic and road construction, but whatever, I was on my own.
Being my first solo hotel stay in, ahem, decades, you can imagine my excitement to get into town and check in. Hello king size bed with my name all over it sans random children trampolining on it to “check if it’s okay”. Hello bathroom all to myself. It was a complimentary breakfast utopia.
Unpack – done. Iron funeral attire – done. Quick lunch – done. Get ready to go – done. And then the hectic schedule was fully realized. There would be no sleeping in, getting breakfast delivered to my room, newspaper slipped under the door – I wasn’t to see this glorious cocoon of solitude at all except for a few hours of sleep.
You can well imagine my dilemma at this point – funeral service or room service, funeral service or room service….. Oh little devil on my shoulder, why, why did you have to make the pillows look so inviting?
Well, I’m happy to say that I still have a few moral fibers left in my being so I picked funerals.
It was time to watch two stories play out the final chapter. Time to be there with childhood friends as they closed the books that opened with the first line, “my Dad”. The ceremonies were as different as the men we celebrated, but the intense love and deep sorrow felt by both families were mirror images. The most beautiful moments at both services were the recountings – the telling of tales about these men who were married to the sweethearts of their youth, raised amazing children, touched so many lives, and had personalities as big as their giving hearts. The pages of their life stories were overflowing and both left a legacy long to be remembered.
After the second funeral my dreams of hotel utopia were over. Mainly because I was fresh out of travel points but also because I wanted to fill my own life pages with time spent with my siblings. The second night of my road trip adventure was spent in the welcoming cocoon of my brother and sister-in-law’s guest room and in the company of my nephew – 9 months old and full of laughter and giggles (it could be gas but I will take the bias road and say it was my visit). In the quiet moments of bedtime I watched as the journey began again. My baby brother, his son, and a new story unfolding that began with “my Dad.”
This post is written in memory of Kenneth G. Johnson (1944-2012) and Thomas J. Reilly (1924-2011). May your heavens be filled with same joy that you brought to the world. RIP.